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Great Race cars arriving in Chambersburg in a few hours

June 14, 2011
  • Crowds gather to watch participating cars pull in for a lunch stop during a past "Great American Race" event.
Submitted photo

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — "The Great Race," America's premier old car rally, is coming to Chambersburg for lunch today, bringing a variety of antique automobiles to  Memorial Square.

Live music and other festivities in the square will welcome the trucks, Hot Rods and other classics as they begin arriving in the heart of Franklin County shortly after noon. Cars will arrive each minute for an hour and a half and will remain parked around the square to allow spectators to visit with the participants and to look at the automobiles, according to a news release.

Drivers, navigators and volunteers from the Chambersburg community will enjoy a catered lunch at Central Presbyterian Church before the cars continue on their way to Hershey, Pa., where the day of racing will come to an end.

Participants in "The Great Race" departed from Chattanooga, Tenn., on Saturday and will conclude their six-day adventure in Bennington, Vt., on Friday.

Chambersburg is one of a number of small towns they'll be stopping by as part of the process.

"The Great Race," which was run coast to coast for 25 years from 1983-2007, is not a speed race, but a time/speed/distance rally.  Drivers and navigators 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. Organizers say 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.

Cars range in age from 1911 to 1969, with most having been manufactured before World War II.  For the first time, a 100-year-old car will be participating in the race — a 1911 Velie owned by Howard and Doug Sharp of Fairport, N.Y.

In the spirit of the event, an assortment of antique cars from Franklin County will be on display in Founding Family Park, which is in the first block north of Memorial Square.

The Borough of Chambersburg will be shutting down the streets one block north, south, east and west of Memorial Square to public traffic beginning at 11 a.m.

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