Great Race Cruises into Town

Salida Colorado Entry




One by one, vintage cars from the early 1900s to no later than 1974, came to Lamar this past Saturday, July 1st for a lunch layover on their next to last leg of the 40th Annual Hemmings Great Race for 2023.


Prowers County Commissioner, Ron Cook


About 118 vehicles of all sorts and stripes made a brief introductory stop along East Beech Street as Race organizers provided an overview of each vehicle, the owner/driver and navigator before they found a parking space by the Welcome Center and Chamber of Commerce, stretched their legs and enjoyed a meal in the Enchanted Forest before pushing on by 2:30pm.


Lamar Mayor, Kirk Crespin


Lamar had been selected this past winter as a stopping point on the 2,300 mile journey, beginning in St. Augustine, Florida and ending on Sunday on South Tejon Street in Colorado Springs.  The fleet of cars made their way into town from their overnight stay in Garden City, KS and by 3pm, were enroute to the last overnight in Pueblo before heading for the finish line.


Volunteer Servers from Enchanted Forest


“We’re not really sure how many vehicles will make it into town today,” said one of the Great Race organizers.  “Some of these cars have broken down during the journey and we have a mobile repair vehicle and a sweeper truck that follows the last car out from an overnight location, so, if need be, they can offer some mechanical roadside assistance.”  The first cars in were Colorado entries and the first car into Lamar was from Salida, a 1918 vintage hybrid on its 10th race.



“This is not a race for speed,” explained a Race official who said that each driver each day receives a pre-written itinerary, sometimes as many as a dozen pages, that tells the navigator or driver when to turn onto which street, how fast to go, how long to stop, all so the vehicle can go past the secret checkpoint that lets the committee know they’re keeping on track.  The goal is to win as many ‘perfect’ scores so you can hit your finish line at the exact second you’re supposed to.  Any faster or slower means points are deducted daily from your overall tally towards the grand prize.



“For an example…a car is traveling at 40mph and has to slow down to 15mph to negotiate a street corner turn.  The navigator has to calculate how long they were at 15mph before they got back up to 40mph and how much more speed for how long they can travel before they level out to the exact point on the highway they needed to be,” explained an organizer.



All in all, it was a great day with welcoming remarks from Prowers County Commissioner, Ron Cook, Lamar Mayor Kirk Crespin and the invocation from Roger Stagner whose wife, Leslie, is the manager of the Lamar Welcome Center that headquartered the event.  Other community groups pitched in, including the Lamar Chamber of Commerce, Lamar Honkers and the Lamar Rotary.  Private food vendors and some local merchants provided food options for the crowd as well as some downtown discount sales during the event.

The Great Race was last in Lamar on coincidentally, July 1st, in 2006.  Organizers said that next years competition will be mostly along the Atlantic seaboard states, beginning in Virginia and traveling to the end point in Maine.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: Chamber of CommerceCity of LamarEntertainmentEventsFeaturedPublic SafetyRecreationTourismTransportation


About the Author: