Plans are taking shape for the Great Race 2013 which will make a pit stop for lunch in Washington this summer.
John Glassen, director of competition for the national event, was in town earlier this week to meet with Washington Tourism Director Mary Beth Rettke and to check out facilities here.
Glassen also has enlisted the help of local car enthusiasts to promote the race and assist during the Washington stop.
The Great Race 2013 is an antique, vintage and collector car competitive controlled-speed endurance road rally on public highways.
The race, set for June 22-30, will take participants through 10 states in nine days for a total of 2,100 miles.
Race participants will stop in Downtown Washington for lunch Tuesday, June 25, before continuing on to Cape Girardeau for an overnight stop, according to Rettke.
The drivers will park their cars along Main Street for the public to view while they enjoy lunch under the Farmers’ Market at Main and Cedar streets.
“We will close Main Street from Jefferson to Cedar so residents can walk down the street and check out the cars and meet the drivers,” Rettke said. “They expect 90-plus cars in the race with the first car arriving here about 11:45 a.m. and continuing until 1:15 p.m.”
The cars will come in one minute intervals. The drivers will park on the north side on Main, at an angle, and then walk down to the market for lunch. As drivers finish eating, they will head back to their cars, be available to answer questions from visitors and then will leave to make room for the other cars.
“We’re also planning a pre-arrival ceremony at about 11:30 a.m.,” Rettke said. “We’ll have the mayor speak and a flag presentation. An archway will be set up at Jefferson and Main, in front of the H&R Block office, to welcome the drivers.”
Rettke said race officials expect a couple of thousand people to show up to view the cars.
“We invite everyone to come downtown for this free event. It’s during the lunch hour so we hope business-people will spend their lunchtime here and kids will be out of school so it’s a great event for families too,” she said.
Rettke said satellite food stations may be set up for the public to purchase lunch.
“We’re going to talk to some of the different restaurants and see what we can set up,” she said.
The last drivers are expected to leave Washington at about 2:30 p.m.
“We anticipate each driver will be here about one hour,” Rettke said.
The cars participating in the race will be from the early 1900s to 1968.
Rettke said she’s excited Washington was asked to serve as a lunch stop.
“They actually called us and asked if we were interested and if we could accommodate the group,” she said. “They had previously sent scouts out to scope out places to stop to eat and spend the night. They’re calling this the Mississippi Run.”
Rettke said locally, Peter Brown is organizing local car enthusiasts to help secure sponsors and volunteers.
The Great Race is not a test of top speed. It is a test of a driver/navigator team’s ability to follow precise course instructions and the cars and team’s ability to endure on a cross-country trip. The course instructions require the competing teams to drive at or below the posted speed limits at all times.
Each day the driver and navigator team receives a set of course instructions that indicate every turn, speed change, stop, and start that the team must make throughout the day — usually 220 to 250 such instructions per day.
Along the course route there will be from four to seven checkpoints recording the exact time that the team passes that point. The objective is to arrive at each checkpoint at the correct time, not the fastest.
The race will begin June 22, in St. Paul, Minn., and the finish line is in Mobile, Ala.