Great Race zooms nearer

Eleven-year-old boy navigates to first place

Craig residents have their work cut out for them Tuesday morning if they're going to outdo the warm welcomes Great Race drivers have received in other towns across the country.

It seems they'll come close. Organizers are planning a free pancake breakfast, sidewalk sales and welcoming crews for the vintage cars' pit stop from 8 to 11 a.m. downtown.

Sharon McGee of Wheat Ridge was the navigator of the Sunday's winning car -- a 1933 Dodge.

"It was so neat to see the smaller towns come out like that -- the kids, grandparents, aunts and uncles. It was great to see America be America," McGee said in a statement from Homewood, Ala.

This 22nd annual Great Race is a two-week, timed endurance rally-race from Jacksonville, Fla., to Monterey, Calif. One driver and one navigator deliver each vintage car to designated stops on the course in an attempt to achieve the "perfect" time -- a pre-designated time that race organizers assign to each maneuver in the race.

For each second that a racer's time varies from the "perfect" time, they receive a point. Just as in golf, the low score wins at the end of the race. While racers travel more than 4,000 miles across many American back roads, they are also competing for $260,000 in cash.

As if driving vintage cars cross country wasn't difficult enough, no cell phones, calculators or odometers are allowed in the race. Team members must rely solely on a stopwatch, a time clock, pencil, paper and their own math skills.

Eleven-year-old Sawyer Stone navigates for his grandfather, Dave Reeder, in a 1933 Ford Roadster.

On the first day of the race, teams faced a series of instructions that had all 94 cars doubling back on each other. The maze, as it is called, is designed to challenge the racers' ability to stay focused and on time while encountering the same instructions more than once.

"It was fun," said Sawyer in a statement. "We went by the same checkpoint three times. That was a blast!"

Defending champions Dick Burdick of San Marcos, Texas, and Wayne Bell of Winter Springs, Fla., in their 1934 Ford Bohnalite Indy, have bagged the championship five times, but were ranked third on Friday. Reeder and Stone were ranked first.

The oldest car in the race is a 1912 National, sponsored by Grundy Insurance, that also raced in the Indianapolis 500 in 1912 and crashed.

"The twin to this car won the race however, so we know it knows how to find the winner's circle," owner and driver Jim Grundy said in a statement.

"The car rides terrible but has unbelievable performance," Grundy said.

"It will go 100 miles per hour and can climb any hill, it just rides a little rough. We know the car will hold up, we just hope our teeth will."

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