The Great Race 2014 – Final Destination at The Villages

One of the challenges of living on a modest income is finding inexpensive ways to entertain yourself.  Sometimes that can end up in a real bust and sometimes…you hit pay dirt.  We hit pay dirt when we decided to drive out to The Villages, Florida to see the finish of the Great Race.

What is the Great Race, you ask?

For more than thirty years people young and old have been climbing in to their pre WWII vehicles and taken on the road rally style race called The Great Race, also called The Great American Race and was inspired by the 1965 movie of the same name. A road rally is a timed event with precise instructions and as these are older vehicles they create the course on secondary roads which go through smaller towns. The goal is to get to each checkpoint in an exact time. The routes are not known ahead of time and no GPS equipment is allowed. This is a race for the intellectual. Penalties are given for arriving too early and for arriving too late…in this race seconds do count!

This year’s route was from Maine to Florida but some of the routes in the past have been from Disney Land in Anaheim, California to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The longest race was from Ottawa, Canada to Mexico City Mexico. The finish line was The Villages, Florida. I had heard of this place on the news, especially problems with golf cart accidents but had never been there before. I tell you, this place is amazing! It’s the retirement dream. Golf courses, lakes, activities and shopping all right in your neighborhood. But this isn’t any ordinary neighborhood. For one…it’s HUGE! Imagine a community that is 5.6 square miles and your primary mode of transportation…golf cart! And you should see these golf carts…all customized and personalized. This makes parking a breeze because they take up half the space. Well, parking is a breeze when there aren’t events. Today, we had to search for a parking space because the crowds came to greet the racers at the finish line. The people who live there were some of the nicest people I have met since moving to Florida. My hats off to The Villages for a spectacular Home Coming they put on. I had a great time!

I’m not sure when they changed the rule about having to be pre WWII era but they now must be 45 years or older to enter the race, though the majority of the cars were still of the older vintage. This year’s winner was the husband-and-wife team Barry and Irene Jason of Keller, Texas. Not only did they win this race but they won the 2013 and 2012 race driving a 1935 Ford Coupe. And to top things off…they had a perfect score on day one of the first leg…something that has not been accomplished in the history of the race. So how good were there times? In the nine day racing event they were 1:02 from perfect. Now that’s accuracy!

Some special race cars were The Fabulous Hudson Hornet 51 and The General Lee. My camera ran out of memory and the last few photos were taken from a cheap mini camcorder…though the quality is poor I didn’t want to leave them out.

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