The 1999 Great
by Doug Pulver
year the History Channel Great Race ran a southern route from Marietta, Georgia
to Anaheim, California. Each year
since the inaugural race in 1983, the race has taken its participants with their
vintage cars across the nation through �uniquely American places and
experiences like Disneyland�s Main Street USA, the Grand Canyon, a parade down
Broadway in the Big Apple, the Indy 500 . . .
Mt. Rushmore, [and] Niagara Falls�.
event is billed as a rally/race because it is a controlled race with multiple
legs. The winner each day is not the car which finishes in
the shortest time but the one which most closely matches the �ideal� time
given the intricate and very detailed driving instructions. To make it even more
difficult, �no electronic devices are allowed and odometers are removed or
sealed . . . . Racers may use only a wrist watch, an analog clock, speedometer
and pencil and paper; that�s all.�
1999 Great Race stormed La Mesa, California for the last overnight stop before
the final leg through the mountains of San Diego and Riverside counties to the
Center Street Promenade in downtown Anaheim.
The late afternoon event began with an honor guard presenting the colors,
singing of the Star Spangled Banner, The Pledge of Allegiance, and Barbershop
Quartet singing. The locals were
whipped to a fevered pitch by a high energy announcer as they anxiously awaited
the 75 plus automobiles arriving as a �rolling museum of motor history�.
you walked down La Mesa Boulevard to look at the cars and speak with the drivers
you found that each had a fascinating story about their car, how they got into
the race and their experiences along the way. This year�s race included such
cars as a 1910 Selden Raceabout, a 1911 Velie, a 1917 Simplex, a 1921 Paige
Speedster, a 1927 Hispano Suiza Phaeton, a 1932 Riley-Ford G/P Racer, and a 1949
Packard 2 Door Deluxe.
my favorite was entry 37 from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a 1948 MGTC owned and
driven by Dean Kjelden. Dean had
purchased the partially disassembled former rally car for $2,400 in Canada where
it laid in storage for 40 years! As the bonnet side panels were missing, I was
able to take note of the chassis number plate and get Dean�s attention by
saying �I notice by your car�s chassis number that it was manufactured in
October of 1948�. (Did I mention that although I don�t carry any pictures of
my family in my wallet, I do carry the build dates of all the MGTCs?) He was
impressed enough that he spent some time telling me about his car. For example,
the front wheels are center-laced but for added strength the rear wheels
aren�t. He also speculated that the bonnet �bulge� might have at one time
housed a supercharger - but not now. This
was Dean�s second year with the TC in the Great Race. Last year he finished
5th in the Rookie Class.
year promises to be better than the last. If
the Great Race passes through your town in the future treat yourself to a very
unique and fun afternoon of motorcar spectating in a uniquely American
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