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Vintage car race to stop in Duluth overnight

The Great Race, an old-car rally traveling 2,300 miles from Rhode Island to North Dakota, will stop in Bayfront Park on Friday.

A driver and a navigator sit inside an old car while traveling down the road.
A driver and a navigator make their way on road during the 2022 Hemings Motor News Great Race presented by Hagerty Drivers Club inside a 1918 American LaFrance.
Contributed / Hagerty Drivers Club's Great Race
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DULUTH — Bayfront Park is about to be filled with vintage cars as drivers on the 2022 Hemmings Motor News Great Race, presented by Hagerty Drivers Club, will stop overnight Friday, according to a news release from the race organizers. Visitors are welcome to look at the classic cars and visit with the participants driving in this old-car rally race.

“We are excited to bring this unique event to Duluth for the first time ever,” race director Jeff Stumb said. “It will also mark the first time the event has been to Lake Superior.”

Unlike most races, this nine-day, 2,300-mile adventure travels to 19 cities, from Warwick, Rhode Island, to Fargo, North Dakota, and it isn't based solely on speed. It's a time/speed/distance rally, meaning that drivers and navigators are given precise instructions each day of the journey and are scored at secret checkpoints along the way and penalized one second for each second they arrive early or late. Much like golf, the score closest to par, or the rally master's prescribed time, wins.

A classic car drives over a starting race line with spectators watching on.
This 1937 Lagonda LG6, one of fewer than 100 ever built, is one of the 130 cars taking part in The Great Race.
Contributed / The Great Race

Teams are made up of two people, a driver and a navigator. The driver must keep the car at a steady pace, using a special speedometer that precisely measures speed, while the navigator deciphers cryptic instructions to get them from each day’s starting point to the finish line. The navigator is also responsible for doing the math necessary to make up time, due to unforeseen stops and delays.

Drivers also receive a special scoring handicap for driving older cars known as the "age factor." Because it's harder to compete in an older vehicle, they receive a scoring multiplier to offset the struggles that come with the car.

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Around 130 cars ranging from 1916 to 1974 are registered for this race. Cars vary from a 1966 Aston Martin DB6 MK1, a 1937 Lagonda LG6, a 1970 Chevelle SS, a 1931 Phaeton and a 1974 Plymouth, which is an exact replica of the "Bluesmobile" from "The Blues Brothers."

The route of the race changes every year. This is the first time they've stopped in Duluth in the 39 years that the race has been running. It's based on a 1908 race from New York to Paris. The race takes its name from a 1965 movie called "The Great Race." Drivers compete for the $50,000 cut of the $150,000 purse.

A 1932 Ford coupe sits in a parking lot.
Olivia and Genna Gentry won the 2021 Great Race in this 1932 Ford couple. This sister team is back in the 2022 race, which will make an overnight stop in Duluth on Friday.
Contributed / The Great Race

Hoping to defend their title from the 2021 event are the sister team of Olivia and Genna Gentry from Newnan, Georgia. The sisters were the first female-only team to have won the race at 20 and 18 years old and won with a score of only 41.31 seconds off the perfect time while driving a 1932 Ford.

The first car is expected to roll into the Bayfront Festival Park around 5:15 p.m. and more cars should filter in minutes afterward, as each driver leaves each stop one minute apart from each other. The next morning racers will take off for Fargo, the last stop on the race.

Chris Brungardt and Jerome "Jay" Reinan look forward to driving their "loud and stinky" 1918 fire engine-turned-speedster past the historic Fargo Theatre as race organizers save "the best for last."

Related Topics: DULUTHFARGOAUTO RACING
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