Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s (GNTC) Team DeSoto crossed the finish line of The Great Race, a rally-style race with vintage vehicles that began in Buffalo, N.Y., and ended in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada over the course of nine days.
The Great Race was an endurance race with classic cars and all participants drove vintage vehicles. Each vehicle had to be model year 1972 or older for the 2018 race. GNTC’s Team DeSoto drove a 1955 DeSoto Fireflite that was restored by the Automotive Technology program. The race is not a speed race and the routes between checkpoints are scenic back roads.
Four GNTC Automotive Technology students participated in The Great Race. Two students, Adam Grogan and Nicholas Barber, alternated as drivers and two students, Zayne Waits and John Valle, alternated as navigators. All four students are residents of Cedartown.
Teams are given instructions and a prescribed time each day to get to the next check point. They are not allowed to use GPS, cellphones, or computers. The object for Great Race teams is to get to the next checkpoint as close as possible to their prescribed time. Penalties are given for the amount of time a team is over or under their prescribed time when they arrive at the checkpoint.
Team DeSoto competed in the X-Cup division of The Great Race, a special class that was created to encourage younger generations to take an interest in vintage vehicles. The team was in very good standing to win the X-Cup towards the end of the race, but a rotor button broke on the engine during the final stage of the race. Barber and Waits were able to tape the button back together with duct tape so the car could drive across the finish line, but by that point they missed too many of the checkpoints to win the division.
The stages of The Great Race included:
- Official Start, June 23, Buffalo N.Y. to Fairport, N.Y.
- Stage 2, June 24, Troy N.Y.
- Stage 3, June 25, Burlington, Vermont
- Stage 4, June 26, Gardiner, Maine
- Stage 5, June 27, Bangor, Maine
- Stage 6, June 28, Bar Harbor, Maine
- Stage 7, June 29, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
- Stage 8, June 30, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
- Stage 9, July 1, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
GNTC’s participation in The Great Race was made possible by Patricia and Wayne Vick, who donated the DeSoto to GNTC’s Foundation and also donated all the parts that were needed for the restoration. The Vicks also covered all hotel expenses for GNTC students and personnel involved in the race and their company Southern Bracing Systems was the primary sponsor of Team DeSoto. Additional sponsors of Team DeSoto include: BullSnot! Tire Mounting and Rubber Lubricant; Heritage First Bank; OTR Wheel Engineering, Inc.; and Snap-On Incorporated.