'Best pit stop yet'

Great Race drivers impressed with Craig hospitality

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The smell of fresh pancakes and the crooning of the Shirelles greeted Craig residents Tuesday morning when about 100 classic cars from the Great Race made a pit stop on Yampa Avenue.

"It brings back a lot of neat old memories," said Jim Hasler, as he and his wife Sandy cruised up and down the street checking out the glistening antiques. "The music and the cars just take you back."

He said he had a soft spot for a black 1958 Corvette he saw. "I always wanted one of those," he said.

Erica Dilldine, 11, based her favorite cars on their colors. Blues were her favorite, but "some are just not my type," she admitted.

Craig residents of all ages gathered at Alice Pleasant Park before the cars started rolling in for a pancake breakfast, compliments of the Craig Chamber of Commerce. The Great Race coincided with bike to work day sponsored by The Memorial Hospital.

Craig residents Lynn and Verna Holmes said they not only loved seeing the cars but also the enthusiastic people who came to see them.

"We need more stuff like this in Craig to bring the town to life," Verna said.

The people involved with the Great Race also were impressed with the support Craig showed them.

"They were shocked when they pulled in and saw the pancakes," said chamber director Cathy Vanatta.

Racers departed from Steamboat Springs on Tuesday morning, and Craig was one of three pit stops they would make before spending the night in Provo, Utah. Each car pulled in one minute apart. The drivers are required to stay at pit stops for 20 minutes.

"It's the best morning pit stop we've had yet," said Sherral Lane, a navigator for a 1938 Ford from Camano Islands, Wash.

The racers began in Jacksonville, Fla. 10 days ago, and will end in Monterey, Calif., on July 3. They agree that driving through small-town America is a priceless experience.

"We've been on roads we never would have seen and met people we never would have met," said Jeff Stumb of Huntsville, Ala. He drives a 1929 Ford Speedster, and his wife, Karen, navigates.

She is one of only two women to drive in open cars, which are permanent convertibles.

She braved driving through pea-size hail on the way to Steamboat on Monday.

"We got creamed," she said.

Despite poor weather, many of the drivers said they were in awe as they drove through Colorado.

"You can't beat the mountains in Colorado. I think they are America's best-kept secret," said Robert Fox, navigator of a silver 1957 Bentley.

"It's hard to race and keep your focus with the scenery," he said.

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