The First Leg…
We are all now in Ogunquit, ME getting ready for the big race. Today the car passed inspection. The car is having a few minor issues, but Jerome Knudson (Head mechanic) is working hard to resolve the problems. We loaded the Speedster up on the trailer Monday night and headed for Maine at 6 AM Tuesday morning. Just north of Dayton, OH we encounter a 2 1/2 hour delay while the interstate was closed down. Several other construction delays caused us to make the decision to drive straight through. We arrived in Maine at 10 AM Wednesday after driving all night. It is so great to see all the cars here getting ready to start the race. Over 100 cars are cruising the streets in great anticipation for the “Trophy Race” tomorrow afternoon. Saturday starts the big race. Our first day will take us to Lowell, MA. Our Starting position for Friday and Saturday will be the 62nd spot. Sunday’s race we will be the 79th car. Each day we will draw for our positions. The weather here is great! It is in the low 80’s and plenty of sunshine.
June 20, 2014
Greetings from Maine,
The Great Race racing crew enjoyed the evening last night at a Clam Bake at Foster’s in York, ME. Most of us preferred the lobster over the clams but everyone enjoyed the bake. We felt like we worked for our dinner by the time we had eaten the lobsters. The meal was topped off with blueberry crumb cake – delicious.
This morning started with a mandatory meeting for all participants. We were welcomed by “Motormouth” and filled in on all aspects of the race. Corky Coker, of Coker Tire, led us in a prayer and said they attribute the prayers with which they have opened the races over the years, with the safe history of the race. There have been no major accidents and no deaths during any of the 31 years of racing. After this year’s race, The Great Race will have run through 46 of the states. This is the first time for it to be in Maine.
There are race teams here from the U.S., Canada, England, Germany, and Japan. The Japanese team does not speak any English and came without a speedometer. The Great Race committee asked if anyone would be willing to loan them an extra speedometer.
As I am writing this, ARC’s driver and navigator, Don Kloth and Herb Clark, are in Portland, ME awaiting their start in the Trophy Run which is a fun tune-up race before the official start of the Great Race tomorrow at 10:00 am. They are very happy to be participating in this Trophy Run because they were having some issues with the speedster up until about 11:30 this morning. Thanks to the great crew of Jerome Knudson, Dave Eiche, Lauren Matley, and Chuck Ulbricht, these issues have been taken care of (we hope). On the way to the start of today’s race, the guys ran one leg of the course to get to the start at .2 seconds off a perfect time (ace). This pleased them greatly. It also pleases them that the car is running very smoothly now.
I will send updates as I get them and maybe some results of today’s race. I am attaching a couple pictures from the Clam Bake and from today.
June 21, 2014
Greetings from Massachusetts,
I said I would give you results from yesterday’s Trophy Run. ARC’s team, Don and Herb, placed 4th in the Rookie Class of 39 rookies. They were only 3 seconds out of 3rd place. They were 56th place overall out of 110 total cars. Pretty good for their first race.
Today started in Ogunquit with another beautiful day. The official Great Race started at 10:00 AM. There was an opening ceremony with thousands of people attending. Traffic was backed up for about 6 miles. Each car, driver, and navigator were introduced as they crossed the start line and the announcer talked quite a bit about Sun City West and ARC.
Today’s course took the guys North out of Ogunquit, ME, cut to New Hampshire, and wound around narrow, 2 lane blacktop roads. They saw a lot of trees and beautiful scenery. There were crowds of people all along the way. They went through small towns and it looked like the whole town greeting and cheering them on as they arrived. They had a lunch stop in Rochester, New Hampshire and really do think the whole town was there. They even had a band. One couple asked Don and Herb to autograph their Great Race Program. Oh, what a feeling!
The Speedster ran great all day (which made the support crew very happy). As they reached the finish line in Lowell, Massachusetts, they could hardly get down the street because of the crowds again. The ARC support crew were all there to greet them. It was great to see them come in with smiles on their faces.
The team did better than in yesterday’s race. The course was over 100 miles long and they were 1 minute and 12 seconds off a perfect race. They will get full field results tomorrow.
June 22, 2014
Greetings from Poughkeepsie, New York,
It really gets hard to figure out what day it is and where we are at the end of these race days. We started out in Lowell, Massachusetts this morning, went to Bennington, Vermont for lunch, and tonight we are in Poughkeepsie, New York. It was another ideal day of weather here.
David Eiche navigated for Don Kloth today. Although he was nervous for his debut as navigator, he did a wonderful job. Their score today was 58 which is very good. After yesterday, Team ARC was in 3rd place in the rookie group, and 46th overall. When asked for a statement, David said he was glad it was over, it was exhausting, but he was exhilarated by the thousands of people they saw along the route.
I was with Suzanne and Tom Jones and Marilyn Knudson today and we went to Bennington, ME to see the cars come in for the lunch stop. We were not allowed to take the same route as the race participants, so took a more direct course. When we arrived in Bennington, there were many people lining the streets to welcome the cars and drivers. They would cheer for each car as they arrived. It was so rewarding to see Don and David arrive with big smiles on their faces.
The race today ended right at the Hudson River. What a beautiful view. Again, there were thousands of people watching the cars finish today’s leg of the race and sticking around to look the cars over. We were served a delicious dinner at the Grandview which got it’s name from the superb view of the Hudson River Valley. There were some SCW winter residents who came up to the ARC team and wished them luck. Because of the pressure situation they were in, they can’t remember the names but are very grateful for the well wishes. We are wearing our SCW and ARC shirts and promoting the great life in SCW every chance we get. I am attaching two photos from today. The first one is a shot of some of the cars arriving in Bennington, Vermont for lunch. The second one is Don and David coming to the finish line.
June 23, 2014
Greetings from Pennsylvania
The ARC Race Team hit a “bump” in the road today. The Speedster refused to run and they were not able to compete. It seems to be a fuel problem and is hopefully fixed so that they can race tomorrow. Luckily, in the ten stages of the race (one stage per day) they can throw out three of the stages and use their best seven. There were several other casualties today also. Dave Eiche commented that he couldn’t get the song “Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This” out of his head.
The weather so far has been wonderful. Tomorrow’s forecast includes a chance for rain though.
I’m attaching a picture of the “Great Leslie” that was in The Great Race movie starring Tony Curtis. Before he passed away, Tony Curtis asked to drive it one more time., The second picture is of the finish line here in Valley Forge, PA with some of the throngs of people watching. Say a prayer that I will have better news to report tomorrow.
June 24, 2014
Good Morning from Valley Forge, Pennsylvania,
This morning we have beautiful weather, smiling faces, and a speedster that is running. The problem from yesterday seems to be fixed. Don and Herb just left to start the race day and the car sounded great. They will travel about 280 miles to Norfolk, VI which is the longest day of the race. Those prayers from last night must have helped so please pray for a safe, successful day today. Talk to you soon.
Greetings from Norfolk, VA,
Today was a good day. The weather was beautiful, the speedster worked great, and the guys finished the race safely. Today’s route was close to 300 miles and the longest day of the race. Don and Herb had to drive 80 miles to get to the start line and then another two hours to get from the end of the race to the finishing place. The route took them past beaches, swamp land, farm land, cemeteries, 16 miles on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and through the Chesapeake Bay tunnels. .A wonderful lunch was served to the racers in Millsboro, DE by the police and firemen of the town. People came with their families from miles around to see the classic cars and cheer them on. That is what the racers like most – all the local people who come out to cheer. Again there were thousands of people watching at the finish. Each night the cars are on display for all to see and enjoy.
The ARC team finished a little less than 2 minutes off a perfect time. After yesterday’s missed day of racing, our team dropped to 77th place. Hopefully, they will move up again soon. There was one unbelievable team who finished with a perfect score today. I believe they are the same couple who won the Great Race for the last two years.
The support team drove the highways to Norfolk, VA. We all agree that there are plenty of people and trees around here. From our hotel, we took a ferry to the finish to greet the racers. This is where the car show and dinner was held.
Thanks for all the support and well wishes we have been receiving. No rain today, sure hope it doesn’t come tomorrow.
I’m attaching a picture of Don and Herb right after finishing the race today. You can tell they are very tired. The second picture is the view of the Chesapeake Bay from our hotel window. Tomorrow will take us to New Bern, NC. I hope you will come along.
June 25, 2014
Don, Dave and the speedster are off. The support crew members are heading toward New Bern, NC. After yesterday’s leg, the ARC team has moved up to 65th place overall from 77th. We are hoping for another good day. Everyone is holding up well. Our clothes are wrinkled and our hair is frizzy, but we are holding up. Thanks for the good wishes.
Greetings from New Bern, NC.
Today was a wild day for the ARC team. Don Kloth was again the driver and David Eiche the navigator as they made their way down the East coast from Norfolk, VA to New Bern, NC. Their trip was over 250 miles. The day began with hot, humid conditions and got worse with heavy rain. To top it off, they witnessed an accident and were delayed. We do not know their final score because of adjustments that were being made because of the delay. We should know more in the morning and I will send it on to you. They commented that the speedster was running better than ever.
Once again, huge crowds greeted the racers as they stopped for lunch in Elizabeth City, NC and finished in New Bern. ARC’s team has been greeted at several stops by SCW winter residents. Thank you for all the well wishes.
I’m attaching a picture of Don waiting for the start of the race this morning and one of Don and David finishing the race this evening. I’m also attaching a picture of a pretty neat Bugatti.
June 26, 2014
It’s a beautiful day here in Wilmington, NC. Due to the delay yesterday, ARC has dropped to 71st place overall and 14th in the Rookie Division. They made it to the lunch stop today in Clinton, NC and the speedster is running great. I’ll have another report later when they finish today’s leg of the race.
I’m attaching a picture of part of the crowd in New Bern, NC last night. It was hard for the racers to drive down the street when they finished the race there were so many people. Attached also is just one of the very cool cars in the Great Race. Catch you later.
Greetings from Wilmington, NC.
The trip from new Bern, NC to Wilmington, NC was 100 miles for the support crews. For the racers though, it was well over 250 miles of curvy, hilly, narrow roads. To make it interesting, some mazes were throw in. A maze is where the racers circle through a town, meeting and greeting other cars coming and going, up and down streets. It plays with the mind as to whether you are going the right way.
Don and Herb took off this morning at 9:15. They had a very good day and had one leg just 3 seconds off a perfect score. The weather was very hot and humid and Mother Nature dumped a lot of rain on them 5 minutes before the finish line in Wilmington. They said the rain felt good. The guys hope their good day will move them up in the standings. We will find out tomorrow.
I’m really sorry I don’t have more to report today but Herb is exhausted and already asleep. Since the crew cannot follow the course with the racers, I have to rely on reports when the guys come in. He fell asleep before I got much information.
June 27, 2014
Herb is awake now and we are with Tom and Suzanne Jones heading to Mount Pleasant, SC. After yesterday’s race, the ARC team moved up to 51st place overall. Their times were the best for them so far. Their route took them through tobacco fields and many “have” and “have not” areas. Herb said one town they went through was so old that the classic cars seemed new. No matter what the social economic status of the people, we all had a common language – talking about old cars. At each stop as the speedster comes in, “Motormouth” goes on and on about Sun City West, AZ, saying how great it is and that the speedster was built there.
More updates to follow when we meet up with our team tonight. It is Don and David in the speedster today. We, in the support team, have really appreciated all the comments, well wishes, and prayers you have sent our way. Thank you.
I’m sending a separate picture of a 1962 Chevrolet Corvair Van. It has original paint from the factory – painted by the workers for a brochure to show the public that they could “Have it your way!” It has not been repainted. How cool is that?
Greetings from Mount Pleasant, SC,
I really had to stop and think about where we are tonight. It has been a long (but fun) week. The ARC team of Don and David dodged showers, had some trouble on one turn, but otherwise did well today. We will see if that turn hurt us tomorrow. Don is looking a little weary and sunburnt but is holding up pretty well. He has driven every day of the race.
The highlight of the day was a surprise for David Eicke’s step-father, Warner Brandt. Warner lives near Mount Pleasant and came to see the Great Race and the speedster that he knew David had worked on. He had no clue that David was actually participating in the Great Race. David arranged for Herb to meet his step-father to show him the speedster. When Don and David came over the finish line, it took Warner a minute to realize that it was David navigating. The whole ARC team plus David’s wife, Kathy, were in on the surprise. Warner attended dinner with us on the USS Yorktown. What a spectacular ship and museum.
Tomorrow’s race is from Mount Pleasant, SC to Jacksonville, FL. It will be a long day for Don and Herb. The race starts at 7:00 AM and the first car is expected to finish in Jacksonville at 5:35 PM. The trip is supposed to be close to 500 miles. For the support team the trip is 250 miles. They should have some stories tomorrow night.
I’m attaching a picture of Herb with David’s step-father. I took some of David greeting his step-father but can’t send them tonight because the camera bag is in the trailer and it is pouring down rain right now. I will send them tomorrow.
I’m also attaching a scene from the USS Yorktown. I will send some of the ship tomorrow too.
We are now in state number twelve since we started the Great Race in Ogunquit, ME. After the disappointing day on Friday, the ARC team dropped down to 87th place overall. The crew examined the speedster Friday night and was really concerned about the close to 500 mile course set for today. Jerome Knudson felt that the main bearing was going out. The group decided it would be best not to run the course today. Although everyone was disappointed, they are upbeat because of all the great times we have had. Don and Herb will start the race tomorrow for the final day and hope to make it to The Villages to the finish line. Remember, the motto of the Great Race is “To finish is to win!”
I just want to make a few comments about the great ARC team that I am traveling with.
First of all, Don Kloth is the owner and driver of the speedster. If it weren’t for Don, none of us would be here. Don has driven every day of the race in rain and hot sunshine. We could tell he was getting weary but he would never admit it and would almost always smile. His face is very sunburnt so I really think today’s day off was the best thing for him. Thanks, Don, for making this happen.
Herb Clark as the navigator is as intense as ever. Don would probably say that it is Herb’s fault that we are here doing this Great Race. Herb took care of all the arrangements and details. He mentored David Eiche in the navigator’s role and is very proud of the job Dave has done.
David Eiche is the back-up navigator and the go-to man who is always calm when it comes to getting things done. The navigator’s role is a tough one – not only do they have to watch the course, they also have to keep the driver focused during the grueling race.
Jerome Knudson is the head mechanic. Each night he checks over the speedster to make sure it is ready for the next day. His knowledge has kept the speedster running in all sorts of challenges in this race. Jerome’s wife, Marilyn, is here too. She is probably the reason Jerome is usually calm and collected. She is very delightful.
Chuck Ulbricht is Jerome’s right hand man. Chuck assists Jerome and takes care of gassing up the speedster and making sure it gets to the starting point each day. He has been driving the truck and trailer to most of the destinations too. Chuck adds a lot of humor to the team.
Lauren Matley is fulfilling an item on his “Bucket List.” He has always wanted to be at the Great Race and now wants to participate in it himself. He actually wants to build a car for it. He assists the other crew members in taking care of the speedster.
The whole team is grateful to Tom and Suzanne Jones. I always knew that they were great people but traveling with them has made me realize just how great they are. Tom has put in thousands of miles during this trip assisting the rest of us. He drives from city to city taking along whoever needs a ride and whatever luggage we have. He has carried numerous bags to our rooms, drives to wherever we want or need to go, finds us food when we are hungry (or he is hungry), and stays calm and happy doing these things. He is so great with Suzanne who is allergic to fragrances and smoke. He checks out rooms, restaurants, lobbies, and anywhere that she might go. She has not been able to attend most of the events that the rest of us have, but she never complains and navigates us to them. I am going to suggest that these two friends are put up for “Sainthood.” Thank you Tom and Suzanne.
I am just here reporting back to you guys. I have had a great time and hope you have enjoyed my reports.
Herb may have a very important, exciting announcement in the next few days! Keep watching for the details!
The first attached photo is a 1915 Hudson and is the oldest car in the Great Race. It is 99 years old. Amazing! It is beautiful.
The second attached photo is a 1937 Bugatti “Atlantis” replica car. The original belongs to Ralph Lauren in France and sold for $37 million dollars. There are some amazing cars here.
See you at the finish line in The Villages, FL tomorrow.
Greetings from The Villages, FL,
Whew!!! It’s over! The Great Race officially came to an end today in The Villages in Florida. The team of Don Kloth and Herb Clark had a great day and should have moved up in the standings. They were in 87th place at the beginning of the day after having to sit out yesterday. Hopefully, their score of 1:05:60 moves them up. They were happy about that score.
They had great welcomings in all of the towns they passed through and had a tremendous welcoming in The Villages. Again thousands of people showed up everywhere they were. It was humid and 97 degrees when they arrived in The Villages but it didn’t stop the thousands of onlookers from cheering them in.
There is a dinner and the awards presentation tonight so we should know where the team finished. The whole team is delighted that they were able to finish the race because “To Finish is to Win.”
The attached photos show the speedster coming to the finish line in The Villages and Herb and Don enjoying a cold beverage together to celebrate the Great Race. I’ll send results later tonight.
The results are in. The Grand Prize winners for the 2014 Great Race are Irene and Bob Jason from Texas. They have now won the Great Race three years in a row. The amazing thing about the Jasons is that they had a perfect day last Sat. – they had aces (no penalties) for every leg of the race. This is the first time this has ever happened.
The ARC team ended up 65th overall and 15th out of 39 in the rookie division. The entire team represented Sun City West and ARC proudly. Thank you to everyone who showed your support for the team. Your well wishes and words of encouragement meant a lot to all of us.
Greetings from Florida,
The Great Race ARC team parted ways this morning and everyone is heading home. Herb, Don, and I are driving the speedster back to the St. Louis area – actually Herb is driving and Don is getting some much needed rest. I’m navigating so sure hope we make it. Dave is flying back to Michigan. Chuck is flying back to Wisconsin. Lauren is flying back to Arizona. Tom and Suzanne are driving back to Arizona after being gone a month. And Jerome and Marilyn are going to Disney World before heading back to North Dakota. We all had a god time but are ready to go home.
At the awards dinner last night, the Great Race organizers announced that the 2015 Great Race is going to be on Route 66 from Illinois to Los Angeles. Although Route 66 doesn’t go through Phoenix, we are trying to convince them to come down through Sun City West. We know the people of SCW would be great hosts.
We have lots of photos and video so will have a presentation in the fall. I better get back to navigating. Herb is trying to take the back, winding roads like they were on during the race.
It has been three days since our final leg of the Great Race, and although my body is in recovery mode the smile on my face is still there.
This race was made possible by my long time friend, Don Kloth. Thank you Don! In my life I have been blessed to have been able to do many fantastic things that others might not have had the chance to do. Being a part of the Great Race is certainly one of the highlights of my life. It was in March of 2013 when Tony Palozzi asked me if I was interested in buying a Model A frame and running gear. I first thought about using it to build a “Pie Wagon” for Don. I talked to Don, and he said he would buy it, but I would have to find a way to use it. With that said, we borrowed Tom Jone’s truck and trailer to go pick it up. That is how the whole thing got started.
A few days later I mentioned to Don about the Great Race. He said that it sounded interesting. Don and I are both “snowbirds,” and spend our summers in St. Louis. In 2013 the Great Race was passing through Washington, Missouri, a town about 40 miles west of St. Louis. Don and I took our wives to their lunch stop, We were all shocked by the huge crowds that were there to watch the racers come in. With our hearts pounding with excitement, we decided participating in the Great Race was what we wanted to do… and the Model A chassis was now to become the “Speedster.”
Now the race was on. We ordered some body parts and had them delivered to Don’s home in SCW. I told a few people about our idea, and the next thing I knew, they had a plan to build the Speedster. In August of 2013, Lauren Matley, Tony Palozzi, Dave Eicke, Ron Guttu, and Don Scheidt started the project. By late fall the car was taking shape! When I arrived in October the car was being “modernized.” The rules of the Great Race allow modifications for safety reasons. The manual brakes were replaced by hydraulic brakes, the steering column was replaced, and an overdrive was ready to set in place. By the early part of 2014 the body was assembled and painted. The boat tail that Don wanted was difficult. After several attempts Mike Majkrzak came to the rescue and built the current boat tail.
I remember the day we all anxiously waited around to hear the engine start up. Jerome Knudson with help from Dave Eicke and others had totally rebuilt the engine. When it started we all cheered and passed out “high-fives.” The seats were made and upholstered to fit Don and I. Tony added six – way seats adjustments for Don’s seat so he would be able to adjust for comfort on the 2400 mile trip. Soon the windshield, mirrors, and lights were added. On April 3rd, the day Don and I were heading back to St. Louis, the car was finished and loaded into the enclosed trailer. The car at that time had less than 20 miles on it. The plan was to drive it about half of the 1500 miles back to St. Louis. Cold weather and very strong winds forced us to trailer it all the way back.
On April 23rd the car was brought to Springfield, MO for a Vintage Race/Rally. This was a four day race and a good tune up for both driver and navigator. Don and I both think this is the best thing we could have done to gain some experience! Without this experience we could have never done the Great Race! In this event we encountered heavy rain, severe storms, hail and the threat of tornados! This event toughened us up. If we could go through all of that we could endure whatever the big race could throw at us!
That is how it all began, We have so many to thank for making this possible! Our “Chase Team” included Jerome Knudson, Dave Eicke, Chuck Ulbright and Lauren Matley. Tom and Suzanne Jones were along side all the way helping us get parts and people to where they belonged. Marilyn Knudson was there to give us moral support and a big smile as we told the stories of each day. My wife Pat stayed up each night writing the articles to send back to our friends. It was truly a team effort!
We also need to thank all of you for your comments and support! We were encouraged to keep going on the long hot days and rainy days. People have asked me, “Would you do it again?” YES! “Was it what you expected?” MORE! I know many of you reading this would like to do it. IF possible, do it! Now that we have some experience, we can help you!
Wouldn’t it be nice to have several teams from the Phoenix area be a part of the 2015 Great Race? We will need some sponsors. We can put together a support “Chase Team” to watch after several vehicles! The race in 2015 will start in Illinois and end in California. It will follow Route 66. I am trying to get the Race to stop in SCW one night! The Villages in Florida did an outstanding job in hosting the final night of the event. I am sure the fine people of SCW would do the same. There are so many to thank for this opportunity. Thank you! Thanks to our Rec Center for their support!
There are many stories yet to tell about the things along the way…including how Tom’s name changed to “Turn Around Tom. These stories will be shared for sometime to come. We have a lot of memories of the huge crowds everywhere went! Along the way we took a lot of pictures and used a couple of Go Pro camera to capture the live action. A friend of Don’s family, Chris Croy is going to edit the film and pictures to give us a photo journey of our trip. This fall and winter you will all be able to join us as we share our ten day trip down the east coast.
If you have any interest in being a part of next year’s Great Race please let me know now. Many couples are teamed up in this event! All cars need a driver and a navigator. The cars have to be 1972 or older. Maybe next year you can write your own story of your fabulous adventure. In closing, I want to thank everyone who had anything to do with this trip of a life time. I will never forget!