Binghamton, New York has been named the Favorite City on the 2011 Hemmings Motor News Great Race, organizers have announced. The event, which is America’s premiere old car rally, stopped in Binghamton on Wednesday, June 15, as part of the weeklong route from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Bennington, Vermont.
“The entire city of Binghamton – especially Mary Ellen Mauro and Joel Boyd, made sure from Day 1 that it was going to be something special,” said Jeff Stumb, director of the Great Race.
“Along with racer Jim Feeney and countless others, they made sure every detail was perfect, including the route into town along Riverside Drive and Front Street,” Stumb said. Feeney, from nearby Endicott, is a longtime participant in the race with his wife Louise.
“The finish line on the Court Street Bridge over the Susquehanna River was the best,” Stumb said, and it got the most comments from racers during the event. The location of the host hotel, the Holiday Inn, and all of the festivities made it a memorable day. Several thousand people from central New York poured into Binghamton for the day to greet the racers. The Fairport, New York team of Howard and Doug Sharp eventually won the race in their 1911 Velie. It was the first 100-year-old vehicle to ever participate in the race.
“We were saddened to learn of the devastating floods which hit Binghamton just two months after we were there,” said Corky Coker, owner of Coker Tire and the Great Race.
“The first chance we get we will be back to Binghamton,” he said.
The route for the 2012 Great Race, which is again sponsored by Hemmings Motor News and Hagerty Insurance, has been announced and will circle the Great Lakes between June 23 and July 1. The start will be in Traverse City, Michigan, and the finish will be in Dearborn, Michigan, after racers make their way clockwise through Canada and back to New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The stops in New York will be in Watertown, Fairport and Buffalo.
The Great Race, which began nearly 30 years ago, is not a speed race, but a time/speed/distance rally. The vehicles, each with a driver and navigator, are given precise instructions each day that detail every move down to the second. They are scored at secret check points along the way and are penalized one second for each second either early or late. As in golf, the lowest score wins.
Cars start – and hopefully finish – one minute apart if all goes according to plan. The biggest part of the challenge other than staying on time and following the instructions is getting an old car to the finish line each day.