The following Wednesday, June 19, the History Channel’s Great Race will make a stop in town.
“On June 19th Williams is the overnight stop for The Great Race, a moving history of the automobile and 20 year old international event and title sponsored in Williams by the Route 66 Roadstore,” Cochran said. “One hundred competitors, in fifty to ninety year old vehicles, compete for the world’s richest purse in this vintage car competition. Our historic downtown will be transformed to the theme of ’50 Years of Kicks on Route 66’. We are planning to incorporate a different era on each downtown block.”
The era’s include the 20’s through the 60’s and will be located on each block between Seventh and First Streets along Route 66, which will be closed to public travel from 8 a.m. to midnight.
“Get out those vintage clothes and join us for the fun,” Cochran said. “June 19th will be one of the biggest weekdays of the year as we compete to be the ‘Best Overnight Stop’ and win the Great American City Award of $5,000 for our local library.”
The city won last year for ‘Best Pit Stop’ and received a $5,000 check for the library for the honor.
The eight-day road marathon from Sunset Station in San Antonio, Texas, to the Center Street Promenade in Anaheim, California, calls for the Great Racers to push themselves and their ancient machines to the absolute limit as they roar across blistering hot deserts, conquer the Continental Divide, cool off along the Southwest’s famed rivers and dash across rustic flatlands. Racers compete for a share of the $250,000 prize purse, the richest in vintage car racing.
Great Race vehicles must be manufactured before 1951 or before 1960 for sports cars, race cars and motorcycles.
Echoing the speed-controlled road rallies popular before 1940, The Great Race is a timed endurance rally-race; a contest about precision driving and navigation, not speed. A wristwatch, analog clock, speedometer, pencil and paper (no maps, cell phones or odometers) are the only instruments racers may use to chart their miles and follow course instructions at exact, predetermined speeds.
How the process works: Each day, 20 minutes before each team starts the race, the team picks up daily driving instructions. The instructions are very specific, detailing every stop, turn and speed change made to the finish that night. These directions are accurate to within one hundredth of a second. A perfect score for each day is zero, low score wins.
Each of the 23 designated stops along the route will roll out the red carpet to welcome the intrepid drivers and their amazing machines in a friendly inter-city competition to claim one of the three Great American City Awards and a generous donation to the town’s library.
Great Racers determine the winning cities at the end of the race and present awards in three categories: Best Pit Stop, Best Lunch Stop and Best Overnight Stop. Racers consider crowd turnout and enthusiasm, venue decoration, originality, and overall hospitality when determining the winning cities.
The host cities are an intrinsic part of what makes The Great Race so successful every year. “The rousing receptions we receive in each host city are a real inspiration for our exhausted racers who really need and appreciate the break by the time they pull into town,” said Tom McRae, Great Race founder and CEO. “These racers are traveling more than 300 miles a day in cantankerous old machines, with no air-conditioning, in temperatures that can soar into the 100s, in a rally-race that calls for split-second timing, precision driving skills and nerves of steel. You can bet they appreciate the host cities!”