A collection of classic cars cruising across the country will arrive in Iowa in one more day. Mike Ewing’s a spokesman for “The Great Race,” a caravan of rally-racing, street-legal vintage cars due to begin pulling into Davenport tomorrow. He says the drivers and navigators have their hands full. “These are not modern cars with air-conditioning, GPS satellite systems and cruise control,” warns Ewing. “These are old cars with very cantankerous, troublesome engines that leak oil everywhere and make lots of noise and rattle the windows and perhaps even break down.” He says it’s challenging to follow their course all the way across the country, especially in 95-degree weather. But each car is at least 45 years old, and Ewing says the event gets under your skin and brings people back to help run it year after year. Some veterans have been in the race for 20 or 25 years, all the events they’ve held. He says once you start you have to come back and do it again, because you’ve made friends in the event and also the towns it travels through. The “youngest” cars in the race are a 1964 Ford Falcon and a Corvair. He says the oldest is a 1910 Selden, which Ewing calls “the Corvette of its era.” Another, the 1911 Healey, “looks like your typical old racecar — it leaks oil, it makes lots of noise, it rattles and shakes.” Ewing says it’s quite a sight to see as it pulls into town. “I must say,” declares Ewing, “that the mechanics in this Great Race are probably some of the best mechanics in the world.” He swears they can listen to an engine, figure out what’s wrong, work on it overnight and have the car fixed the next day. Ewing adds that Jack Roush, who has five teams racing in NASCAR, is along with the race through Thursday, with a team of his racecar mechanics. The race has come through Iowa several times in the past and he remembers getting a great reception in towns including Des Moines and the Quad Cities. The Great Race pulls into Davenport tomorrow (Thursday). It’s scheduled to be part of the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival and make appearances in Walcott, Marshalltown, West Des Moines and Atlantic before leaving Iowa on the way to its final destination in Washington state.
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