Friday, June 17, 2011

Day Seven of the Great Race: The Grand Finale

The final day of the Great Race started for me at 5:45am, as late as I could possibly wake up.  Our starting position was 44, which meant that we were to leave at 6:44am at the latest for our speedometer calibration run.  It was raining when we got outside, but not so hard as to make driving difficult.  I simply put on a sweatshirt and the wipers and I was cocooned within the warm (and dry) interior of the car while I watched all of the cars sans tops drive down the road.

We started off the morning of rallying with a maze right off the bat.  Dad and I were able to get through part of it without a wrong turn and before we knew it, we were already way behind.  When we figured out where we were in terms of everybody else and finally got a chance to make up some time, we pulled out to pass a car and ran right into a checkpoint.  So, all we could do was suck up the bad leg, and keep on driving in the position that we were in.  We didn't make any wrong turns for quite some time and we ended up with some great scores for the middle chunk of legs.  We made on last wrong turn on the final leg and tried to make up as much time as we could, but it wasn't enough.

Dissapointed on how our last day of rallying went, we drove into Stratton for lunch.  We had lunch in an empty ski lodge at the base of the mountain.  I never get to see many in the middle of June so it was cool to be there.  I wish that there would have been a little bit of snow left over for me to snowboard on but of course there was not, so I just had to look longingly at the bare slopes.  Stratton looks like a stunning mountian and resort (the town reminds me a lot of Whistler) and I'd like to get back there sometime in the winter.

Anyways, after a leisurely lunch, we left for a scenic drive through Vermont, to the small, yet adorable, town of Bennington, VT.  Bennington is home to the headquarters of Hemmings Motor News so we stopped there for some hors d'oeuvres.  Hemmings has a great facility.  They've got a nice little museum full of green cars and they've even got their own gas station on site!  All of the employees of Hemmings were there to cheer all of the racers into the parking lot, it was truely a special experience.  The town of Bennington itself was packed with people looking at all the cars. 

Soon after we arrived, we filed back into our cars to head into downtown Bennington to cross the finish line and show off the cars for one last time.  I met Miss Vermont (She noticed our front license plate and said that she is acutally Canadian.  If you didn't already know, Ontario has a lot of good looking girls) and the Lieutenant Govenor of Vermont at the finish line and Dad and I got our medals from Wes Kliner (Assistant Director of the Great Race) and Corky Coker.  We literally had to force the car through the crowd.  One woman insisted upon getting a photo of our front license plate and ran along side the car with her Blackberry, trying to get the perfect shot.  I was tired and my clutch-leg was too sore for my liking so I laid on the horn pretty hard and after about 5 seconds she got out of my way.  She continued to walk along the right side of the car while apologizing profusely and I said "Mam', you can take all the pictures you want when I'm done parking.  The car will be here until five".  I didn't see her again after that.  The hardest part of Dad's days on the Great Race was always when we were out rallying, trying to keep on track of directions and speed changes.  The hardest part for me was always navigating through dozens of people with cameras while trying to park.  We got out of the car and Dad made a b-line for the closest pizzeria in town (he had been craving pizza all week long) and I looked around at all the little stands that the businesses in town had set up.  It was by far my favorite town of the rally.  We actually got a taste of the feel and personality of the town where I felt as if we did not for some othe the other towns.

After that we checked into our hotel and then went to our final banquet at a local country club.  The food was great and I enjoyed getting a chance to talk more with the other racers.  Towards the end of dinner, Corky talked for a while and thanked all the sponsors and voulenteers for the Great Race and gave out the awards.  To our surprise, we ended up getting 5th place for rookies, which included a nice plaque and a check!  He also played a quick video that the media crew put togeather of the race to show what it might look like on TV.  It was a fantastic video.  There wasn't much footage of the Corvette on the small video, but they took some video of our us and our car rather often so perhaps we'll show up on TV sometime in the future.  Dinner was over by about 9:30 and we quickly made it out the door and back to the hotel as soon as possible.  We didn't want to get caught up in any sort of traffic or other issues getting out since we only had one functioning pop up headlight.

Dad and I will wake up tomorrow and drive home.  We'll probably be back before dinner.  Whenever, I keep telling Dad that we're done, he keeps reminding me that we have to make it home.  So, I won't post my complete thoughts on my experience until we're done and sitting at home tomorrow night.  As for now, I'd like to thank all the people associated with the Great Race such a fantastic event.  It wouldn't of been nearly as much fun without all of you.  I hope you all had as much fun as I did.

Our Corvette and 1961 Corvette that joined the rally to replace a Hudson that had broken down during the first few days.  There were several instances where racers' cars broke down and they drove home to pick up replacements if they were close enough.

(Almost) All of the cars parked in the parking lot of Stratton Mountain in Vermont, it was a foggy day and you couldn't really see much of the mountain.

The Corvette parked on the streets of Bennington, VT after the official finish of the rally.

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