TRURO – Cameras and phones were always at the ready, capturing some of the world’s most unique antique cars.
It was the 2018 Hemmings Motor News Great Race, a rally featuring 120 antique vehicles in a 2,300 mile rally that spanned four U.S. states and two provinces, with $150,000 up for grabs over the nine-day event. The Great Race hosted a lunch stop in Truro on June 30, with all vehicles on display for the public.
“I’m a car enthusiast,” said Aaron Crowe, of North River, who watched from the side of Prince Street as vehicles rolled into the stop. “It’s neat to see this event come to Truro from New York.”
The speed/distance/time rally began in Buffalo, NY, and was ending in Halifax on July 1. It’s the first time the event made its way to the Atlantic Provinces, and team came from all over the U.S., Canada, and other parts of the world. Three teams from Japan were participating, and it was the Japanese media crew driving a little Nissan that impressed Crowe the most.
For Ronnie Roode, it was seeing all 120 vehicles – dating as far back as 1913 – that impressed him.
The vehicles, each with a driver and navigator, are given precise instructions each day that detail every move down to the second. They are scored at secret check points along the way and are penalized one second for each second either early or late. As in golf, the lowest score wins.
Cars start – and hopefully finish – one minute apart if all goes according to plan. The biggest part of the challenge other than staying on time and following the instructions is getting an old car to the finish line each day, organizers say.
Originally from Truro, Arnie Stephens now lives in Canmore, Alta., and was one of those drivers to make their way into the downtown core, with his wife, Lynn Friedrick, as his navigator.
Having seen information on The Great Race online, Stephens mentioned it to Friedrick more than a year ago.
“I had applied for last year, however it was full,” said Stephens, who has owned his 1969 Buick Skylark for the last 15 years. “I was put on the waitlist for this year. When I heard it was coming to Truro, I was excited but a bit apprehensive because I didn’t know anything about rallying.”
Stephens said each team is assigned a mentor prior to the rally, and it was his mentor who recommended the couple participate in a similarly formatted rally.
“It’s been great so far,” said Stephens. “We’d met a lot of great people. We’ve learned a lot. We’ve had some good rallying days and some bad rallying days. Everyone is so good with their time, and the camaraderie is great.”
While he doesn’t often take the Skylark for a drive, it’s gained a lot of mileage this summer – about 6,000 in total between the two rallies and traveling for the start of the rally itself.
“It’s been great to work with my wife. We really worked as a team and it was a great learning experience.”
Rick Hollis, owner of Hollis Ford, jumped on board as a local sponsor as soon as he was given the chance and was “extremely excited” to have such a large crowd, which the race committee announced as the largest turnout for a lunch stop over this year’s route.
“It’s definitely bigger than expected,” said Hollis, a smile hardly ever leaving his face during the event. “Most people in central Nova Scotia love old cars and I think a lot of people are now starting to understand what rallying is all about. It’s all synchronized.”
Hollis said he had thought about going on the rally, however couldn’t find someone to join as his navigator.
A vintage and classic car collector and enthusiast himself, Hollis said there were two vehicles he was quite surprised and excited to see – an American LaFrance Speedster from 1918, and an Aston Martin, which was explained to the crowd as being one team’s backup car.
“You would not expect to see that in a rally,” said Hollis, about the Aston Martin. “It’s a very expensive car.”
To view more photos of from The Great Race, visit the photo gallery.