The Great Race Vintage Road Rally Kicks Off Today

Vintage car owners will rally across the country with any electronic assistance.

byNico DeMattia|
The Great Race Vintage Road Rally Kicks Off Today

Don your tweed cap and jacket this morning because the 2022 Great Race vintage road rally kicks off today. Over 150 participants will drive vintage cars, no later than 1974, from Warwick, Rhode Island to Fargo, North Dakota, a roughly 2,000 mile, nine-day journey without any GPS or smartphone assistance. Instead, participants will be given a specific set of turn-by-turn instructions each day and a will need to navigate them on their own, while also managing their exact time.

Like many vintage rallies, The Great Race is controlled-speed endurance rally that prioritizes precision over speed. It's not about who gets to each destination quickest, it's about who can get to each of the four-to-seven daily checkpoints at the correct time. Every second off the correct time results in a penalty point, which makes planning and timing far more important than speed.

Each team is made up of a driver and a navigator, plus any additional support crew. However, any additional crew must be in a separate vehicle and must not follow along on the same route. Instead, support crews are given different routes, which take them from directly to the next hotel, while the main two team members are given a more scenic route.

Classic Cars. 1957 Buick

At the end of the journey, the team with the best time score wins the $50,000 prize money. However, a team's score isn't just based on their times, as vehicle age is also factored in. There's a percentage reduction based on the team vehicle's age: the older the vehicle, the greater the percentage reduction, the better the final score. So when choosing a car, the team needs to weigh not only its performance, reliability, and comfort over up to ten hours a day for nine days, but also is age. Obviously, the older the car, the more difficult the journey, but that difficulty is rewarded by the percentage reduction at the end of they rally. Which is why most teams prefer 1930s and '40s vehicles, as they're old enough to get a hefty percentage reduction but new enough to be usable and reliable over the nine days. Of the top ten finishers for last year's Great Race, only one car was older than 1941, a 1965 Corvette.

For vintage car owners and enthusiasts, The Great Race is a really fun way to actually interact with not only your own vintage car but other vintage car enthusiasts. Plus, how often do you get to dress in 1940s clothes and talk like Humphrey Bogart, while driving a car with a top speed of 50 mph and navigating the American countryside using only your wits and your wristwatch?