HomeCar CultureMaine Student Team Great Race Blog Day Four

Maine Student Team Great Race Blog Day Four

The final day of preparation


Two student docents from the Maine Classic Car Museum are taking part in the 2024 Great Race as part of the X-Cup Challenge. Click here for part three of their journey.

Trophy Run

Max and Cotton here again with our daily blog as we get ready to compete in the 2024 Great Race long distance rally. We’re two high school students from Maine who work as docents at the Maine Classic Car Museum, and we’re reporting on our experience as rookies in this epic 2,300 mile race. 

To help kick off the nine-day rally, the Great Race conducts a trial run in the host city the day before the official start. This Trophy Run gives all teams a chance to compete under true race conditions. The run had 5 measured legs, which may cover 10-15 miles and involve 20 different interval steps of turns, speed changes and other directions, where you are measured down to the tenth of a second. The goal for each leg is to score an “ace,” where you come in exactly 0.0 seconds. It’s no easy task but a great goal. Don’t forget, you also need to factor in local traffic conditions since this part is traveling on public roads. For example, getting behind a school bus that’s stopping in the middle of the road can slow you down, so we must recalculate our variable speed to catch up on the fly. We’re doing math all day long!

We received our course instructions and attended Rally Class first thing in the morning. With encouragement and support from all the other teams, we started the first of five legs with excitement and hopes of scoring an elusive “ace.” Alas, for “The Caddy’s” (our team’s nickname), that was not to be. In fact, disaster struck on the very first leg. We got lost heading out of Owensboro and someone missed an important stop sign on Walnut Street.  We then compounded our problems by turning the wrong way as we tried to fix our mistake.  This meant our time was a dismal 3 minute and 28 second error score for the first leg. 

In addition to being our road scout, Max managed to take a picture of Tim driving and Cotton navigating in the front seat as we rolled up and down the hills of Ohio

We were at rock bottom, so things could only get better. And boy did they. We shook off our first interval jitters and concentrated on the road. A lunch break at Dairy Queen helped us regain our composure, and by the fourth leg we scored just 4 seconds off the mark.  

Congratulations to Car #168, a vintage 1953 Pontiac Chieftain driven by the student team from Stones River AACA (Tennessee), who took first place in the X-Cup division of the Trophy Run. Matt Norman and Jeremy Byrd are the drivers while Annie Holland and Carson Byrd are the navigators. Their X-Cup team finished an impressive 15th overall among all race teams.  

At our first pit stop in Indiana, Max and Cotton met up with fellow Mainers and Great Race mentors, Susan Nourse and Peter Brown and their 1930 Ford Model A boattail speedster

When you’re out on the road, you are not “on the clock” all the time, but it’s super important to pay attention to every note in the course book covering each interval step. When we stopped for gas, our chaperone drivers, instituted a special team rule: “old guys rule, young guys fuel.” Which is how we learned that pumping gas in a 1961 Cadillac is not as easy as you’d think, so we had a quick training class in the Marathon gas station parking lot. 

During the Great Race group dinner that night, there was a silent auction that raised over $40,000 for future student scholarships. We didn’t get a chance to bid, though, because our homework of revising performance charts and studying the next day’s course was more important.

Cotton works on our performance charts during dinner, as there’s not a minute to lose to prepare for this precision race

We line up tomorrow and say goodbye to Owensboro, Kentucky, as we’ll cross the starting line and head towards Indiana for the first official day of the race. We can’t wait. 

Andy Reid
Andy Reid
Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Posts