A lot has happened since we last posted about the Great Race. On Tuesday, we left Memphis, Tennessee and had to spend a while on the interstate. We normally travel side roads so this part of our travel wasn’t included in the day’s timed route. The timed route began in Arkansas, which means lots of majestic farmland and long, straight roads. We finally made it to North Little Rock where we would enjoy our lunch stop. Thanks to everyone who came out to see the cars.
Of course at the lunch stop we were wondering what happened to Brad and Dan. Brad told the story on his Facebook page, which I will share again here:
BRAD PHILLIPS: Here’s a fantastic scenario. Stuck on the side of a rural road somewhere outside of Little Rock, Arkansas on Great Race. The only good spare we had was used a few days ago, the replacement spare tire should have arrived but never did, thanks to FedEx and not my friends at Coker Tire. We put a new tube in the “old” spare we were carrying around, but with its obvious sidewall trauma, it lasted ten minutes when we tried to hurl it into emergency service. We have another spare tube, which I could try in this most recent flat tire, but it’s now raining and there is thunder and lightning around us. Also we have no air to put in it. Send a drone carrying beer to our GPS location.
Brad and Dan eventually got picked up by a flat bed tow truck and have been able to continue in the Great Race.
It’s true on the 27th we were lucky to experience a little rain. This helped cool everyone off on the winding turns and elevation changes. We even did a little mountain climbing on Petit Jean Mountain. After a quick pitstop at the Museum of Automobiles we made our way into Russellville, Arkansas for the overnight stop. Again, the people came out in droves to see the classic cars lined up in the streets. And we enjoyed a great dinner.
On Wednesday, June 28 we headed towards Eureka Springs, Arkansas for our lunch stop. The Ozark Mountains are certainly a beautiful destination, but the steep grades and switchbacks were extremely challenging. The hills and the heat were a double whammy. The arrival in Eureka Springs was a welcome break from the over 100 degree temps. Very charming historic small town, with Victorian buildings and winding streets. It’s a mecca for artists and writers and we would have liked to linger in a bit longer. Add it to your bucket list if you are ever in the area. For us, the road and the rally route was calling–and the sun wasn’t giving up. We had to put our sunglasses and cooling towels back on and hit the road. (In case you are wondering, the 1967 GTO does have air-conditioning but it HASN’T BEEN WORKING the entire trip.)
Despite the heat, it was fun crossing the “Little Golden Gate Bridge”, a one-lane wooden bridge that crosses the White River in Beaver, Arkansas. The bridge itself spans 554 feet over the river but it’s only 11 feet wide! Only one car at a time could cross. Mary and I had to laugh and record a video of Dan and Brad meeting a truck in the middle of the bridge. The truck refused to budge and finally Brad had to drive in reverse off the bridge to let him pass.
We enjoyed all the scenic features of the area but couldn’t really take time to enjoy them since we were on the clock. When we arrived in Joplin, we had our evening event on Main Street which just happens to be the historic Route 66. This had to be the biggest crowd of well-wishers we’ve seen yet. A wonderful reception for all the Great Racers back on Route 66.
JUNE 29 in KANSAS
More record-breaking heat as we head out of Joplin for Kansas. We are doing our best to stay cool. On the morning drive we passed a sign for Pittsburgh, Kansas, which brought back a lot of memories. People in the heat printing industry may recognize the city of Pittsburgh, Kansas as the home of Hix Corporation. Before we developed the Hotronix heat press back in the mid-eighties, I visited Hix to ask them if they would manufacture an improved heat press for Stahls’ customers. I explained that too many of our numbers and letters and other transfers weren’t working due to the inconsistent results of 1970’s heat press technology. They weren’t interested in my ideas on taking heat presses to the next level so we decided to invent our own version of an improved heat press. The result was the Hotronix Swinger, which we first introduced in 1986/87. Lots of thoughts like this going through my head as we navigated our way through Kansas in the unbearable temperatures.
Tonight we overnight in Wichita and then have another full day crossing the plains of Kansas as we head to Saturday’s finish in Colorado Springs. Let’s hope the weather cools down a bit.