No one can attribute the high traffic volume heading into Myrtle Beach on Friday solely to the teams in the 100 classic cars in a road rally from Maine to Florida on a lunch stop at Broadway at the Beach.
The 2,100-mile journey of the 2014 Hemmings Motor News Great Race, begun June 21 in Ogunguit, Maine, continued Friday to Mount Pleasant for an overnight, then the contestants proceed Saturday to Savannah, Ga., for a midday stop, then a night in Jacksonville, Fla., and finally on Sunday, after lunch in Ocala, the grand finish in The Villages, northwest of Orlando.
On this day on the road from Wilmington, N.C., Brian Blood, driving a 1969 Saab 69, with fellow McLean, Va., resident Stephen Keller navigating from the passenger seat, spoke of being bowled over by the incoming bumper-to-bumper traffic heading south on U.S. 501 from Conway.
Each team of a driver and navigator seeks the $150,000 purse, but not the top speed per se, for each party follows a designated scenic course and earns scores based on the accuracy and correct time of finishing each daylong leg of the journey, done without use of a GPS or computer, and with tape covering the odometer.
‘Motormouth’ adds his touch
The lead announcer on site, Brian “Motormouth” Goudge, welcomed each duo arriving on their wheels. Just winging it without notes in hand, he gave a friendly, often funny narrative for each team. He declared how amid the heavy traffic, the race fell behind schedule, prompting the slicing of 20 minutes off the hourlong break earmarked for motorists.
Introducing Frank Buonanno and shotgun partner Chris Clark from Connecticut in a 1915 Hudson 6-40, Goudge praised this eldest of all cars in the competition, weaving in honesty in that it also runs “like a 99-year-old car does every day.”
“Look at that little Austin-Healy besides it,” Goudge added. “Isn’t that neat?”
Buonanno and Clark stretched by walking across the parking lot to pick up a meal, and the latter made sure the former did not walk off without also grabbing a bottle of water in the searing sunshine. Stepping into a tree’s shade, Clark feasted on his potato chips first, voicing their pleasure at finishing “one second early” arriving Thursday into Wilmington. He also spoke of the car’s thirst, amid a water leak, and how to quench it.
“There’s only one way,” he said. “You get out and fill it back up.”
David Ullman of Independence, Ore., munched on lunch in his seat of a white 1961 Imperial, awaiting the return of driver John Corey of Mechanicville, N.Y., whose blog is prominent on www.greatrace.com.
Ullman said they have coped with broken axle, wheel and a dropped drive shaft, but they continue pressing on, and that they do not dare activate the air conditioning into their vintage vehicle.
‘Heat and humidity’
“I’m from the Northwest,” Ullman said, not used to the “heat and humidity” of the past couple of days, but that he got over his physical “breakdown.”
He figured the remainder of the day’s route would bring them to suburban Charleston by 7 or 8 p.m.
“Anytime we’re moving,” Ullman said, “it’s good.”
As the teams arrived and left their cars for their break, spectators surrounded each vehicle, many snapping photos.
Anyone who looked at the yellow 1928 Ford Model A Speedster with its radiator fan humming and manned by two men from Titusville, Fla. – Chad Nelson and Brandon Schindler – could count the gauges on one hand, with only a face clock and no radio filling out the dash.
The Grand Strand British Car Club also had a crew on hand to welcome and assist the teams with the lunch stop, and “Motormouth” lauded its members for their volunteerism.
“These cars are quite unique with some experienced driving teams,” said the club’s Felicia Sachs. “Myrtle Beach is fortunate to have many car enthusiasts, and our British car club has been looking forward to this event for some time now.”
Not just North America
Preparing to hit the road again, Mike Buchanan of Royal Oak, Mich., sat behind the wheel of a 1967 Ford Mustang painted in a 1968 color that his brother and navigator, Marc Buchanan, confirmed as “Acapulco Blue.” Its Michigan license plate boasted “Pony USA.”
Mike Buchanan said his brother, an Arizona resident, drove the car to Michigan, then they headed to Maine to begin this race.
An emblem on each side front panel of the car showed the map of the 2013 Great South American Challenge, a trek Michael Buchanan said spanned six weeks, and they traded seats in the car for that one.
He also said this Great Race stateside is their first.
“We’re rookies,” Buchanan said, sincere with all positive feedback thus far. “It’s wonderful and a lot of fun. ...
“The best part is all the different people you meet.”
Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.