Adventures with The Great Race Part I

For the second year in a row I was asked to work the Hemmings Motor News/Coker Tire/Hagerty sponsored The Great Race.  Last years Great Race I was working with the scoring crew as the runner. This year I had the privilege to work as a check point worker allowing me the opportunity to travel more of the actual route (working w/the scoring crew required us to get to the overnight stop ahead of everyone). This year’s race started in Traverse City, MI went into Canada around the Great Lakes, back into the US and ended in Dearborn, MI.

For a total of 14 days my friend Janice and I were on the road starting from home and stopping in Morristown, TN to stay  at one of the other checkpoint workers’ home on our way to Detroit, MI, to the airport to meet the other checkpoint worker and get the rental car. Our next overnight stay was originally going to be Findlay, Ohio but since it was still quite daylight we went further north to Toledo, Ohio mainly because I remembered that is where the Jeeps are made 🙂

After getting settled in to our hotel in Toledo, my friend Janice and I headed out to find the new Jeep factory where the big JEEP letters were as well as locate where the Jeep factory that made the Cherokees once stood. We were able to find both which made the stay in Toledo that much sweeter.

Traverse City, MI was our next overnight stay, actually it would be where we stayed from Wednesday night until Saturday morning. For the most part it was enjoyable, minus the whole traffic congestion issue. Sault Ste. Marie, MI was our next overnight destination. The town was wonderful as they embraced us being there. While waiting in line to get a brat, I met a family from the northern Michigan area. They obviously could tell my accent was from the South. Of course me opening my mouth up and pronouncing Petosky WAY off had them all snickering. In fact one of them said from now on they would pronounce it like I did!  It was great just getting to know other people.

I was definitely anxious about going into Canada. It would be my first time there and a dream come true. Of course it was once again raining so trying take pictures was nearly impossible. The best picture I got was at the border where it said Sault Ste. Marie Ontario Canada. Crossing the border was no where near what I thought it would be like. I guess with everything that has went on since 9/11 I expected officers with big guns and German Shepherds. Not so much.

Janice and I were chosen as the first checkpoint which was set up at an old primitive church way out in the country. Apparently the minister found out about the Great Race coming through so she cancelled the Sunday service, invited the congregation from the church as well as another one to come out and watch the vintage cars go by. At least 50 people were there and the excitement was incredible. The ladies of the church were so generous to the two of us-feeding us delicious muffins and tea. We had some amazing conversations with some of the people there. The most special thing they did was take the three Great Race programs and the hat we gave to the minister and held an auction. Right then and there they raised $112! Janice and I assumed they would take the money and put it towards improvements on the church. Instead the minister went over to Janice and handed her the cash to donate to the Autism Foundation that was created in part by Rex Gardner, one of the drivers participating in the Great Race.

After we finished up at the church we headed to our next overnight stop which was in Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. While in Canada I made the goal I would find Poutine, which I found at the A & W. While the gravy obviously tasted as if it came from a can, it was really good. Sometimes now I wish we had a restaurant nearby that served Poutine as I don’t think I could even try to make it myself.