Stage 11, Canton, OH to Olean, NY

Thursday, June 11 -- Stage 11, Canton, OH to Olean, NY (285 miles)
Winston left Canton in mist.  After an afternoon stop in Franklin, PA we managed to reach our starting place four minutes late. It was catch up time! We made it all up except 21 seconds! Final score for the day 1:22, leaving a better feeling than yesterday!  And we stayed on course!

Lunch in New Castle, PA, was an exhilarating experience. A very large crowd, estimated at 20,000, waited for the racers, which is a little unusual for the mid-day stop.  After a wonderful lunch there was even more excitement – a daytime fireworks show.  After all, New Castle is the fireworks capital of the world. 

Every day, Margo makes sure the truck gets to our finish point loaded with parts and spares.  Note the spare engine on the left of our dog-mechanic!

Tomorrow would begin the “Championship Run.”  Scores from Friday and Saturday would be combined with the single best score from the previous days to determine final position. With the 13 seconds on Stage 7 last Saturday, we were still very much in the competition.

The Great Race Newsletter published that day:


On the eve of The History Channel Great Race’s Championship Run, the townspeople of New Castle, PA (the fireworks capital of the world) threw a party. Accepting the invitation were 65 Great Racers; over 25,000 people played host, throwing what could only be described as a Fourth of July celebration three weeks early.

As Tom McRae, Great Race founder, "I couldn’t believe it! After a terrific turnout of 24,000 in Canton, Ohio, I never deamed we’d match it at the next lunch stop. But everybody in New Castle turned out and turned up...a mob of people were there to greet Great Racers. The biggest lunch stop ever was clearly over 25,000 people."

According to Sam McRae, V.P. of Marketing for The History Channel Great Race, the organizers of the New Castle event went above and beyond the call of duty. "In every host community, we provide a list of basic ideas, out of which most cities will select a few. New Castle incorporated the entire formula, and then added their own spin. With each car’s entrance, fireworks were set off, ticker tape came down, and New Castle cheerleaders danced the Macarena. Every storefront was covered, and a school coloring contest drew 11,000 entries. For the Great Race entrants, it was probably our greatest lunch reception ever."

With eleven days and 3,200 miles behind them, Great Race competitors are running on adrenalin, and the stops in Canton and New Castle have fueled their enthusiasm. Mechanical fatigue has plagued the race cars, and physical fatigue is seen in the eyes and felt in the bones of virtually everyone in a competitive car. As bolts and bits are tested, so are the nerves and courage of those Great Racers in the Championship hunt. In the Championship run, competitors take their best day of the previous eleven and add it to the results of the final two.

In the shadow of the Alleghenys, Olean, New York provided the final tune-up for this Great Race showdown. It’s time to get serious.


-In the front row of the Championship hunt are Dick Burdick and Wayne Bell, winning their third straight stage with :06. An ace on leg two, three :03s, and a .718 age factor for their 1916 provided the result. Dick Burdick credited their belief in their speedo. "It treated us good." Close behind in their ‘29 Model A speedster were Jim Hampton and Ty Holmquist with :10. Also on the podium were the "Ron-John" team of Ron Ferris and John Sears. An ace on leg two helped net a :12 and a tie with the newer vehicle of Wilson/Dunn.

-Car #54 is easy to’s once again at the top of Rookie standings. Bill Josler and Donna Rinkel had a :06, :14, :07, and :11 for a :33 total. Bill credited a great car, great navigator, and an OK effort on his part. A close second were "The Timeless Teenagers", Skip McCoshum and Gell Shunn with a :36, while Wollmer/Wollmer were some distance back with a :55 for third.

"Par-Tee Time" can best describe the Sportsman combo of Al Partee, Jr. and Rich Clark, topping Sportsman division. With an amazing consistency in legs 2, 3, and 4, their ‘40 Ford finished a tough day with an absolutely great :22. In second was Newman/Newman with :27, and Merrill/Merrill rounded out the top three with :29.


It was Win, Place, and quite a show for the X-Cuppers from Astronaut High. The Titusville teams took the two top spots, with Astronaut #1 finishing first with :32, and #2 finishing second with :37. #1's pilot/instructor Jim LaCoy noted a bear sighting, which we find ‘bearly’ believable. Titusville’s Dave Mark was proud of his kids one-two finish, citing their work on the cars. He added that the team is getting through this race ‘because of the kids, which is what it’s all about.’

-Third place was nailed by Brillion Co-op with an oh-so-close :43. It appears to be wide-open in X-Cup, with most teams capable of a win on any given stage.


Pick up your daily stage (1st or 2nd) awards, Aces and Top 20 medals between 7 and 8 Friday in between the MBNA tent and the NASCAR trailer!!--Happy Birthday to Stoney, who is now 26 and sweet enough to share his cake. He finally got a new hat--let’s hope he wears it!

John Bervid and Ron Wollmer came in 3rd in Rookie Division Thursday--maybe because John finally remembered to put the 3 pennies in his pocket his granddaughters gave him for good luck!-The D.A.R.E. car is only an ‘89, but lost its transmission Thursday. Thanks to the Franklin, PA Police Chief who led officer Mike Lesser to a city garage to get the Caprice running again.-Also, thanks to the X-cuppers who help set up and tear down tents and gates at each venue, and Andrew Holly for the assist with Bob Harris and Robert Dinges! And a big hand to Qualcomm and Chevy Trucks--who keep us all on the road! --There will be a chapel at 8 a.m. Sunday-check this column Saturday for more details!--Hatnappers beware! Wayne Stanfield is mad. He wants his stolen hat back. Wayne, ever think of offering a reward?

Neither rain, nor sleet--Part 1

You know the rest--except we’re talking about Great Racers, not letter carriers. Teams slogged through hail and those other elements on the run to Haverhill. Some were thoroughly chilled by the rain and cold. Others liked it. "We practiced in the rain on our day off," said three-time champion navigator Wayne Stanfield. "Charlie (Currie) and I put some Rain-X on the windshield to keep it clear because we don’t have any wipers. And Charlie drives without his glasses because the most important thing he does is watch the speedometer. We carry a one-gallon freezer bag to keep our instructions dry and sometimes put a blanket over the lower part of the radiator."-- Bruce Grant (part 2 Saturday!)


John Classen reminds support drivers that there IS vehicle parking in Syracuse. Each team should have instructions, but if you don’t, pick them up at HQ by Friday’s afternoon pitstop!