Driving their prized candy apple red 1969 Ford Mustang some 2,100 miles from Ogunquit, Maine to The Villages, Florida, Barry and Irene Jason of Keller, Texas have pulled off a three-peat, winning the 2014 Hemmings Motor News Great Race presented by Hagerty for the third consecutive year. The couple’s nine-day trek took them through 10 states and scored them a $50,000 check for the overall win.
Founded by fellow classic car buffs Tom McRae and Norman Miller in 1983, The Great Race was inspired in part by the 1965 Jack Lemmon -Tony Curtis – Natalie Wood movie that bears the same name. Boasting a $12 million budget that made it the most expensive comedy film ever made at the time, the film follows a zany cast of competitors in a Victorian-era race from New York to Paris (westward across America, the Bering Straight and Russia) designed to promote automotive sales. Much of the slapstick style is a clear tribute to the iconic comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy – most notably in a scene touted as “the greatest pie fight ever.” Arch rivals, a beautiful maiden in distress, a saloon brawl and the accidental demise of the Eiffel Tower – all helped make the movie a box office hit.
Fast forward two decades to a couple of classic car-loving Texans with a nutty idea – a rally race featuring only street-legal vintage automobiles at least 45 years old using original factory parts and absolutely no newfangled navigational aids like GPS. Held annually over a 14-day period, the event is a precision paced race with points awarded for accuracy of a driver and navigator to match a time and average speed over a predetermined course, with bonus points awarded to the oldest vehicles on a handicap system.
Competitor cars this year ranged in age from a 1915 Hudson 6-40 to a 1972 Chevrolet Corvette. But it was the Jasons’ ’69 Pony that proved the three-peat champion.
E3 Spark Plugs congratulates the Jasons and all other winners and participants of The Great Race. Did you participate either as a competitor or a cheerleader from the grassy side of the multi-state track? Post your pics on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.