One of the most famous car races in the nation will be making an overnight stop in Owensboro on June 24. The Great Race, the world’s premier old-car rally, will bring 120 of the world’s finest antique automobiles to town.
Participants in the Great Race will cover more than 2,300 miles over nine days. The race will start June 20 in front of the Alamo in San Antonio and finish in Greenville, S.C., on June 28.
According to Dave Kirk, Visit Owensboro destination management director, teams and cars from Japan, England, Germany, Canada and every corner of the U.S. will participate in their vintage automobiles that date back as far as 1916.
“These racers are coming from all over the world to experience our city,” Kirk said.
Kirk said Owensboro’s two riverfront hotels have already sold out for the event, creating overflow into other hotels. And those numbers just account for the participants and officials involved with The Great Race.
The Great Race Organizer Jeff Stumb said the event always draws large crowds at each stop.
“When the Great Race pulls into a city, it becomes an instant festival,” Stumb said. “Last year, we had had a couple of overnight stops with more than 10,000 spectators on our way to having 250,000 people see the Great Race during the event.”
To make the event possible, several partners have come on board including the City of Owensboro, Daviess County Fiscal Court, Don Moore Automotive and the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
City of Owensboro Public Events Director Tim Ross said they are excited to partner with Visit Owensboro for this unique event.
“The riverfront will have an energetic atmosphere not only for the racers but for the entire community to come downtown for the evening” he said.
Judge-Executive Al Mattingly called the event a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the residents of Daviess County, adding it would be a nice boost for the economy.
“It will also have a nice economic impact for our county, with the racers and car enthusiasts staying in our hotels, eating at our restaurants and spending money in our stores,” he said.
Chris Joslin, executive director of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum, said his staff is excited to take on ROMP and the Great Race at the same time.
“It’s a busy week for us with ROMP, but we are happy to share our property with the Great Race as the Road to ROMP,” Joslin said.
The event started 37 years ago — not as a speed race, but as a time/speed/distance rally. Each vehicle has a driver and navigator who are given precise instructions each day that detail every move, down to the second. The vehicles are scored at secret checkpoints during the race, and they are given a one-second penalty for each second they are either early or late.
As in golf, the lowest score wins.