The World's Richest Old Car Race

The World's Richest Old Car Race

1983 Great American Race

For those of you who have turned up your noses at my Aggie jokes, let it be known that the originator of the GREAT AMERICAN RACE was one Reb Folbre, a TEXAS AGGIE no less...(Not sure where that rallymaster was from - probably a Texas UniversitY "tea sipper")ยป Anyway, after a number of meetings. numerous telephone calls, the Oklahoma honcho for this event. Dave Brown, set off on the perilous journey into Texas to begin the task of measuring the route from the Dallas-Fort worth area (nice size coordinating point) to Kansas City. Supposedly the Regions involved would write overlapping instructions and the powers-to-be at Great American Race, Ltd. would massage the results and come up with one set of route instructionsand mileage figures (hundredths of a mile) and times figured to hundreths of a minute. Norm Foster and Dave Brown did a great job with very little information orhelp from the rally people in Texas.


As the day grew nearer to the day of the rally and the route had not been checked by the GAR Rallymaster, some of us grew a little apprehensive and started making phone calls for such complicated information as what time our checkpoints were to open and what time the first car was due...


We were told that the GAR would furnish special timers and back-up timers, special checkpoint signs, pro-type scoring slips, checkpoint critique sheets and best of allthe Rallymaster would arrive at least one hour before the first car was due in and make sure we knew how to use the special scoring sheets, set up the timers for us and all other good things to make sure the check point was setup to function smoothly... 


The first day, our checkpoint crew arrived at the rest area just North of Red Rver approximately 1 and 1/2 hours before the first car was due in - - as the time for the Rallymaster to show came and
went and got nearer the magic moment of thearrival of the first rally car, the indians got restless, Harlan Farmer mounted his Datsun Z car and went South to try and locate the oncoming rally cars
but to no avail. Harlan then triedd some passing truckers and asked for information that might calm us down. The first information we received was that a "real old" car followed by something that might by a fire truck was about 15 minutes from our checkpoint. SCRAMBLE TIME. We decided that since the Rallymaster must have been lost on his own route, we would set up the checkpoint just like a TSD rally and fake it the best we could...
Our checkpoint crew was fantastic...Milburn and Monica Brewer, using only our one club timer set to Doris Bonham's WWV radio, started logging cars, writing on the contestants score cards, rather than the fancy slips that showed up later in the day, and didn't miss a beat in that all important job...Helen MacKechnie and Madelene Elledge (Ricky Hunt's dau.) manned the IN-LINE, set at an arbitrary position since the Rallymaster had that knowledge with him wherever, whistling in the cars and keeping a master log of the car numbers as they arrived...meanwhile, Fred Schumacher, Wiley Hunt and myself busied ourselves running score cards to and from the rally cars, explaining why the change in scoring - why the checkpoint signs were different, what the red and green flags meant, that we had no knowledge of any critique sheets, that we were not aware of any five minute pause or ten minute pause -but what they could do with a pause if they wanted to, and asking the contestants if they had passed a stranded Rallymaster...In all seriousness, the event was a barrel of fun and I would not have missed it for anything (well almost anything)...
The Rallymaster showed up after we had processed a half-dozen cars and provided all the good stuff we were to get prior to the rally cars arrival...The second day, the checkpoint crew was joined by Judi Bishop, Glenn and Jan Snapp and Gary Deaton...Along the way to the rest area at Blackwell, OK, as early as 9 am there were people setting up chairs at almost evert interstate entranca/exit and waiting for the stream of rally cars to pass...On arrival at the Blackwell rest area, we set up the checkpoint just as If the second day would be a repeat of the first day...However, the Rallymaster did arrive ahead of the first contestants not by any hour though, and the checkpoint crew again did a fabulous job and this time the State Highway Maintenance Crews cam to our aid...They saw that the rest area was just a bit too small for the job at hand and set about routing all truck and car traffic to the truck side - leaving the car side for the rally cars - Our thanks to them.... There were some beautiful cars and equally beautiful support vehicles...
I for one hope the Great American Race Comes back thru Oklahoma City in 1984 and that the Region has a chance to participate...There were some things that could be done in a better fashion, such as planning for an Oklahoma Hospitality Room with refreshments instead of being bailed out by Jerry Crew and Mike Anderson at the last minute...We, the Region, probably got more "Goodwill" mileage from the Hospitality Room than anything else...MACKECHNIE


This is a report on the Great American Race from the view of a Checkpoint Captain who had little information prior to the event and still is pretty unknowledgeable of the wholebusiness. A bit confusing it was but everyone seemed to have a good time, including me, and the Region made a nice profit overall, so it has to be a great success.
I was instructed to be at the check point site Tuesday nite, the 24th of June at 5:30, approximately an hour and a half before the first car was due to arrive. The Rallymaster would furnish all equipment and instructions - we would furnish warm bodies. We had a good group of capable and warm bodies there about 8:00 pm. The Rallymaster showed up 2 hours late: and not far ahead of the 69 entrants still running. Also cluttering up the area were many spectators and a local TV crew who had found our location, which was supposed to be secret. Seems the press were invited to the false checkpoint at the Hilton Inn. Anyway, the 69 racers showed up pretty well grouped together and this combined with the spectator traffic made a hectic time of it for an hour or so. I was proud of our Region people who handled the mess like veterans, keeping cool and the traffic moving. Of the 69 arrivals, we had only one complaint - this entrant claimed we had erred .20 of a minute...we checked his complaint out carefully and could not concur and he left reasonably happy. This was an outstanding job of timing, in my opinion and I thank the timing crew of Frank Smith, Sandy Saucier, Charlotte Shelton and Carol England for a job well done. Timing was not the only job, by any means, and the rest of the crew did a great job of hustling time slips, directing traffic, parking the entrants and other chores. My congratulations to John Saucier, Paul and Jimmie Fortner. Mike and Sharon McBride, Jim Shelton and Jimmy Johns. I finally closed the checkpoint down at 10:20 and departed for the Hilton Inn to check out the confusion there.  
When I arrived at the Hilton, I found our Oklahoma Region hospitality room going full blast with our hospitality being shared by all, workers and racers and press. Mike Anderson and Jerry Crew had taken on that responsibility and did a great job. A number of entrants commented on our outstanding hospitality and Mike and Jerry are to be commended. A bonus for me at hospitality was seeing some old former Region members whom I hadn't seen for years. Streeter Flynn, Dick Workman and C.A. Leslie were among the old friends I talked with - it was great! 
Wednesday morning, June 25, we had the responsibility for starting the racers off on the Oklahoma City - Kansas City leg and we took care of that chore in short order. There were a lot of press people around and our region got pretty good coverage as a result. As I said in the beginning, I was and still am uniformed as to many of the details of our part in the Great American Race but from what I could see and from talking to many of the contestants and officials, our Oklahoma Region did a first rate job all around, and we hopefully will get the race through here next year. I will happily volunteer to help again - it was a blast !  
                                                                                                  George England
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