Antique cars to stop briefly at mall Cross-country race involves 95 autos

July 09, 1993|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Contributing Writer

Folks hanging out around Cranberry Mall this afternoon may wonder if they've fallen into a time warp, as 95 antique motor cars roll into the parking lot for a brief pit stop.

What they will be seeing are competitors in the 11th annual Interstate Batteries Great American Race.

It's billed as the world's richest classic antique automobile race, with a purse of $250,000 in cash and prizes for the winners.

The 4,250-mile race, which began June 27 in Huntington Beach, Calif., features cars from 1905 to 1941 worth a total of more than $5 million.

When it ends tomorrow in Norfolk, Va., the race will have crossed 16 states in two weeks.

Old-timers may be humming "Get Up, Get Out, Get Under," that great paean to the early days of automobiling, as they watch vintage Packards, Fords, Pierce Arrows, Mercers, Auburns and Chevrolets pull in for a time check and a brief rest for drivers and navigators.

Since the race is a controlled speed contest, 30 minutes before departure each day race teams are given intricate instructions that contain directions and speed changes but no mileage indicators.

The function of each driver-navigator team is to follow those instructions perfectly. They are allowed two watches, a car speedometer, pencil and paper to accomplish the necessary calculations to follow the course. The route was determined and plotted in advance of the race by sophisticated equipment.

Secret daily checkpoints monitor each car's progress and penalty points are assessed if a car is early or late.

At the end of the day, the low score wins that day's run, which ranges from 250 to 500 miles.

At the end of the race, the entrantwith the lowest score wins the event.

The cars will enter Westminster over an undisclosed route after a lunch stop in Hagerstown, according to a race spokesman.

And since the route will remain secret, it's quite possible that unsuspecting modern day motorists will find themselves surrounded with throaty, sleek examples from the halcyon days of the automaker's art, when boat-tail speedsters, cabriolets and roarabouts seized the American motoring public's imagination.

Different categories of winners include World Class, limited to open cars built prior to 1920, with a $50,000 purse; Sportsman Class for rookie competitors, with a $50,000 purse; and the Championship Class, with a $50,000 first prize, for veteran rallyists.

David Burdick from Rosanky, Texas, last year's winner, will defend his title in a 1916 Hudson Racer.

This year's field includes 27 makes of cars from 30 states, as well as entries from Switzerland, Japan, England and Canada.

The cars will arrive at Cranberry Mall through the Route 27 entrance and will park in the lot opposite Caldor's. The event begins at 3 p.m. and will continue until 4:45 p.m. when the last cars pass through the 15-minute pit stop.

According to Kathi McAvoy, director of marketing for the mall, drivers will be given a gift pack, water or lemonade and directions to the rest rooms.

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