City prepares for The Great Race
The plans have been finalized and released for the Thursday’s The Great Race event to be held in downtown Monticello.
The Great Race, which began on June 22 at the State Fairgrounds in St. Paul, Minn. as part of the ‘Back to the 50s’ car show, has been weaving participants through several states down the Mississippi River as they make their way to the Gulf of Mexico. Participants will have crossed the Mighty Mississippi a dozen times before finally finishing the race in Mobile, Ala. on Sunday.
“We are excited to help bring the Great Race to Southeast Arkansas,” said Tom White, publisher of the Advance-Monticellonian, sponsor and local event coordinator. “It was made possible with help from the City, Chamber and many local sponsors. This will be a onetime event that will probably never return to our area so I encourage everyone within driving distance of Monticello to mark their calendars and attend.”
Tuesday night, Monticello’s Great Race Committee adopted a final schedule for Thursday’s unique event.
According to these plans the opening ceremonies will begin at 12:50 p.m. with Charles Graham singing the National Anthem. Boy Scout Troop #67 will serve as Color Guards for the event and dignitaries, representing the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, will include Travel Writer Kim Williams, Photographer Tim Shultz, Assistant Director Gloria Robinson, and Mississippi Parkway Commissioners Marla Crider and Carole Bulloch. Monticello Mayor Allen Maxwell will also be on hand to deliver the welcoming address.
The Drew County-Monitcello Chamber of Commerce has extended an invitation to anyone interested to bring their antique vehicles to the downtown area and park them in the parking lot of First Baptist Church on Main Street. There will be no official car show or judging and owners should have their cars at FBC no later than 11 a.m.
Food vendors will include Adams Ice Cream, the First Baptist Church Youth Group, the Drew County 4-H Club, Bill Horn, The Junior Fair Board and the Chamber of Commerce.
Also participating in the event are Gotta Go Portable Toilets, which will be set up at strategic locations around downtown, and Monticello Ambulance Service.
The Great Race staff and local volunteers should arrive at their designated areas by 12:05 p.m. The race participants will arrive in intervals for lunch and the last car is scheduled to depart downtown at 3:35 p.m.
North Main Street will be barricaded off from Trotter to Oakland. Also, Trotter Street from Bailey to Church Streets and Church to Main will be barricaded. Also, the north parking lot of First Baptist Church will be barricaded off to the public. These street closures will be in effect from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Monticello Police Chief Eddy Deaton said that visitors are welcome to park anywhere downtown where they can find a spot but to be sure to avoid the barricaded sections.
“We will have the above listed sections barricaded off beginning at 7 a.m. Thursday morning,” said Deaton. “We want to encourage people to come downtown for this event but to also be mindful of these street closures.”
According to The Great Race website, the race is not a test of top speed. It is a test of a driver/navigator team’s ability to follow precise course instructions and the car’s and team’s ability to endure on a cross-country trip. The course instructions require the competing teams to drive at or below the posted speed limits at all times.
Each day the driver and navigator team receives a set of course instructions that indicate every turn, speed change, stop, and start that the team must make throughout the day — usually 220 to 250 such instructions per day.
Along the course route there will be between four to seven checkpoints recording the exact time that the team passes that point. The objective is to arrive at each checkpoint at the correct time, not the fastest.
The score for each team is the result of the team’s ability to follow the designated course instructions precisely. Every second off the perfect time (early or late) at each checkpoint is a penalty point. This format is much more mentally demanding than a flat-out cross-country race.
The older cars in the race varies from year to year, but in 2012, a 1911 Velie won the event in 2011. And in 2012, a 1907 Renault and a 1914 Ford Model T, were the top finishers.