The Great Race, perhaps the most unique car race in the country, is returning to Owensboro in 2024. Only this time, Owensboro is serving as the starting location rather than a pit stop — meaning there will be numerous events and thousands of visitors downtown in the week leading up to the start date.
The Great Race Organizer Jeff Stumb made the announcement Thursday morning alongside city and county officials.
“I can’t tell you what a thrill it is to be back here in Owensboro,” Stumb said, referencing the race including Owensboro as a stop in the 2021 race. “It was spectacular being here. The Great Racers from all over the world talked about it over and over.”
Stumb said after that experience, he knew he wanted to come back to Owensboro — and already had in mind that the city should be used as the start location.
So the 2024 Great Race will start on June 22 with cars rolling down Veterans Boulevard. Nine days and 2,300 miles later, the race will finish in Gardiner, Maine, which is near Augusta.
Stumb noted the economic impact that comes with being the starting point.
“There are 500 people in The Great Race in our entourage — drivers, navigators support crew members, and staff. They’re from all over the world. We have teams from Australia, Japan, Germany, England, France, Canada, and all over the United States,” he said. “This will be an entire week prior to the start of the race, all these people coming in.”
The Great Race officially took off in 1983 as a way to get older cars out of museums and back on the road.
The cross-country trek isn’t a race of speed, but is a test of drivers’ mental agility and endurance along with their car’s endurance. The racers are not able to use any technology, as they have to follow printed directions to checkpoints along the way with the goal of arriving at each destination in one-minute intervals. That allows viewers to see a different car cross the checkpoint every minute.
Owensboro Mayor Tom Watson said he’s happy the event is returning.
“We’re extremely happy to be able to help out with this event,” he said. “Last time you were here I was standing over by the corner (near the pit stop), and I just fell in love with all the cars that came through here.”
Daviess County Judge-Executive Charlie Castlen added, “Of all the counties across America, we’re honored you chose Daviess County to be your takeoff spot. I think it’s exciting to have you all here. I hope you say ‘hey, we had a good time and we’ll come back,’ whether it’s to stop here or whether it’s to take off from here again.”