Day Nine: 2014 McPherson Great Race Season Finale Part I
Yesterday the grand season finale, the day we had all been waiting for. It seemed like a long time ago that we were up in Ogunquit getting the getting the gang together.
Our day started out with yet another early set of directions. We had a starting position of 27th and the start time was 7:00, geeze. We got our direction one last time, and headed to the starting line. Conveniently this start was right next to a gas station. The reason that it was convenient was that everybody could park in the parking lot, fill up and get drinks at a more relaxed and comfortable pace. Most of our starts were on the sides of roads, next to highways, and the like, which was a mess, not to mention confused many passersby’s who would invariably mess up our starts. Speaking of passersby’s we were asked by many, where the car show was. This was a common question throughout the length of our journey. In a sense we were a portable car show, constantly moving from place to place.
Soon enough it was our turn to go. Our main concern was just to not mess anything up too
much, like missing a turn. We really just wanted to play it safe and enjoy our last day. We were ahead by almost two minutes and as long as we didn’t do anything drastically wrong we would win the X-Cup, defending our title from last year. This was very important to us, especially since three of us were rookies we did not want to let McPherson down. Ok, and maybe another small part was to kick Ponca City’s tail.
Soon enough we were off. Today’s route was going to be a mere half day, in the driving sense. After lunch all we had to do was parade to The Villages. This would be the end of the Great Race.
Our midway stop before lunch,which was the start the next section, was in the middle of nowhere. Therre was however some shade and a post office which is all that was needed. During the break we were shooting the breeze with the other competitors as we had always done this far. Most were excited that the trip was coming to an end.
Nothing much happened on our way to lunch, just smooth riding. One thing different about today was that the media crew put a GoPro camera on the inside of our back glass. We had to tighten our grip a little making sure we weren’t acting too crazy… that didn’t last long though. We even made an apology to the camera for anything that has or will happen during the recording of us. Let us know if you see us on YouTube someplace. After completing the final section of being on the clock, there was a raucous celebratory shouting from inside our car. We were very certain that we had won, because we had not messed anything up.
Lunch was at The National Parts Depot in Ocala, Florida. NPD reproduces a lot of parts for old vehicles, mainly Fords & Chevy’s. This was a great lunch, because of a few things. The first being that we had a lunch where we could leisurely talk to people, and enjoy ourselves. The second was that to get to the eating area we had to walk through a very nice collection of classics. In the collection we saw Eliza’s sister, another 57 Fairlane. This one however was a hardtop, and was a little more dressed up. Bumper guards, dual mirrors, fender skirts, upgrade interior package, the fancy stuff. We were joking how we wanted to do some parts shopping of our own, such as taking a hubcap off that Fairlane to replace the one we lost, as well as taking the supercharger on the 57 Thunderbird next to it. The collection was really nice, and so was lunch. On our way out Jake went by the counter to see if they had a hubcap that we could buy. Unfortunately they had the hubcaps for 57 Trucks & Thunder birds, but not for our Fair lady, oh well.
The plan for this afternoons departure, was to leave at a certain time within 30 second increments, in theory that would allow us to get to the finish line a little spaced out. That didn’t happen exactly as planned, but it appeared as though most people actually stayed in the order they were in. Onward we went. Earlier in the day we were told that we could be surrounded by golf carts once we got to The Villages, because it is primarily a retirement community. As we got closer and closer rows and rows of golf carts started appearing by the road sides. It was an amazingly funny sight. The golf carts outnumbered the amount of regular cars traveling in the area by far. As we neared the finish line they became more and more prevalent.
Soon enough the finish line was in sight. The town was packed, and the line of racers was fairly long. The primary concern was that we would not experience any more vapor lock, as we had earlier. Luckily we did not, and Tony & I decided to have some fun and lean out the windows, (after all this was a parade). We didn’t quite get the Rose Princess wave down, but we had fun. Amanda was there as well with her daughter. They had made some shirts that said, “McPherson Support Crew There is no FEAR is McPherson”. Frankly I think we need to have a similar shirt.
It was wonderful that as we got closer to the finish line the crowd increased and people were cheering for us. As we crossed the finish line Corky & Motormouth announced us the winners of the X-Cup once again. We also earned another ACE, making a grand total of two awards! It was the icing on the cake and we were ecstatic! After parking we were swarmed by folks asking about us, and the college. If there is one thing that is gained from our entry in The Great Race it is positive publicity for the school we all love!
Not too long after we were parked we heard that the grand champions were the Jason’s. They were driving a 1966 Mustang. We were rooting for them for a few reasons. First off, this is now their third year in a row winning the race. The next reason was that we wanted a post war car to win. A post 1945 car had never won before, which was significant. On the first day of the race they had a perfect day with 4 Aces, which had never happened before either. Obviously this couple knew their stuff. In previous years they drove a 1933 Ford, but it was getting harder for them to drive it as they got older. The significance also is that they don’t have much of a handicap. At the end of each day of the race your time would be multiplied by a factor. The newer the car the less of a handicap. At the end of each day our score (the 57 Fairlane) would get our score multiplied by .95. Better than nothing but it means you have less room for error. So the Mustang had even less of a handicap than us.
The Villages was very interesting indeed. It is a place almost entirely of retired folks. They even have a drum line and cheerleading team there to greet us, (yes they were retired residents). Most of these folks were in better shape than some people I know. The place was roaring and we were discussing the race with other racers and folks who came up to us. The neat thing about driving a 1957 Ford is that a lot of people relate to it. Though a lot of the cars are really neat, 1952 Bentley, 1941 Packard, Model A speedsters, Auburns, and such, many people didn’t grow up with these cars. When people would see Eliza they would come up and say how their dad or brother had one, or how this was their first car, or a number of memories. That and she looks darn good when in motion.
After all of the festivities we pulled out and prepared for the banquet, which I will cover in a Part II post. We won!! Hooray for us!!