By Pam Dudding
Racing has different meanings to many.
For Trevor Stahl and Josh Hull, it’s a cross country race in a 1932 Ford Speedster against 167 other beautiful older vehicles.
Since 2015, Stahl and Hull have been running The Hemmings Motor News Great Race in their ‘Stars and Stripes’ car.
Stahl actually got hooked on the race in 2014, when he joined his parents who were racing in it. He hooked up with them from Maine to Florida, and in just seven years is now making history.
Craig residents follow their race, as Hull used to be a part-time paramedic in Craig County. Many of the EMS providers still enjoy following Hull and the American car on their annual excursions throughout the week-long race.
Jim Cady, a long time EMS member in Craig shared, “Josh has been a first responder in Botetourt County for over 20 years. He is a great young man. He chose to be a Roanoke City firefighter/paramedic for a career. When our Volunteer Rescue Squad was having difficulty covering our calls and the County had to hire some part time paramedics, I asked Josh if he would pull some duty days and he gladly did and worked for us for several years.”
Cady also said that Hull was a great helper as their on-duty EMS personnel worked to convert the old high school agriculture building into a rescue squad building.
“During that time I think he began competing in The Great Race and we have enjoyed following his success!” Cady added. “Each year he got closer, and I kept telling him he will get it and we will be cheering him on!”
“I wanted to be a firefighter since I was a kid,” Hull shared. He started volunteering at age 17, went to college and was hired on to Roanoke City in 2007.
Hull got hooked on The Great Race the moment he found out about it. Now, he and his best friend and navigator Stahl are celebrating their first win.
Stahl is still local as well and owns the Blacksburg & Roanoke Fit Body Boot Camp.
Hull and Stahl seem to truly have the same passion for enjoying the many beautiful states they drive through during the race, though they are limited as all eyes, ears and attention has to be focused on the car, their speed and the detailed time factors they are limited to, in order to win this race of over 2,300 miles.
“I don’t really look at the road because my eyes are locked on the speedometer,” Hull said. “I have to keep the speedometer at the exact speed to complete that leg of the race and my navigator is busy calculating our exact speeds as we look for markers to turn.”
This year, they started at Rocky Point State Park in Rhode Island; drove through Windsor Locks, Conn.; then Montgomery, N.Y.; Binghamton, N.Y.; Wellsville, N.Y.; Erie,Pa.; Medina, Ohio; Perrysburg, Ohio; South Bend, Ind.; Plainfield, Ill; then through Sun Prairie, Wis.; Chippewa Falls, Wis.; and through Duluth – Brainerd and Detroit Lakes, Minn.; and finally to the finish line in Fargo, N.D.
167 participants were driving, from a 1916 Hudson Hill Climber to a 1974 Plymouth Bluesmobile.
They share that it is a grueling marathon for the drivers, navigators and the vehicles, and that is why Hemmings came up with the motto, “To Finish is to Win!”.
The purse structure keeps the competition fierce, vying for more than $150,000, among five divisions, with $50,000 going to each overall Grand Champion winner as well as bumping them into the Grand Championship division.
“This year, the team of Hull and Stahl stayed in the lead for the majority of the event,” Hemmings shared. “As part of the Stahls’ team, this car and this team has been improving year over year and have finally reached the pinnacle of Great Race competition.”
They added that their 1932 Speedster “wears our nation’s colors and it held together very well, despite the demanding conditions of quick stops, hard acceleration and challenging maneuvers.”
“My favorite place we visited this year was before the race started,” Stahl said. “We went to Newport, RI for lunch and to see the Newport Car Museum which just happened to be the same day as the start of the Newport to Bermuda sailboat race. What a fun little town and spectacle of boats. If I had to pick a day during the race, driving on the historic road course at Watkins Glen, would be a highlight!”
On day one, they started off with a 5 second day and 2 aces as they shared, “We were beat out for the top score of the day by our good friends in a 41 Pickup Truck.”
Stahl explained one shaky incident in New York: “Each morning we have a tire warm up and speedo calibration where we go 50mph for ‘x’ amount of miles. When we got off the exit at the end, Josh mentioned he had no brakes. We pulled into the gas station and immediately went to work to see where we were leaking brake fluid. Thankfully we were able to spot the issue, pull a screw out of the exhaust and plug the hole. We bought all the brake fluid the gas station had, filled up the reservoir and went on our way. At least we had breaks!”
Quickly adding with a laugh, “Our car did great overall, considering they try to find the bumpiest back roads in America to see how well they hold up!”
They also had rain around lunchtime during the Saturday championship leg.
Stahl shared, “But unlike previous years, we are now prepared for when it rains. As long as it is not a torrential downpour, we can handle the rain.”
He added, “Since the first Stage (day), we held a slim lead in expert and after day two, we were in the lead overall for the entire race until the last day. We lost the lead to our friends in a 1916 Hudson by three one hundredths of a second.”
Still, the end was their victory as they won the Great Race this year, taking home the big birds! Stars and Stripes won with a score of 46.98 seconds.
“The Big Bird is what us racers call the grand champion trophy,” they shared. “It is a big eagle and before the race, we competitors like to say we are going bird hunting.”
Total awards were $40,000 for winning the event, $10,000 for winning the expert divisions and $750 for winning the day and/or being top in their division during a Stage.
Also, next year they will be placed in the Grand Championship Division as Stahl explained, “We will have one less leg to use as a throw out so we will have to be on our game even more so. These teams are getting more and more competitive each year between the Grand Champion and Expert Divisions, so no room for error!”
Stahl and Hull extended their heartfelt thanks to all those who followed along with them on social media and supported the team.
“We wish to especially thank my parents and The Stahl’s Automotive Foundation (www.stahlsauto.com). We would not be able to compete without their support,” they added.
Their “Stars and Stripes” car is decorated with our nation’s colors on the car. “It is to remind us how blessed and grateful we are to live in the best Country in the World,” Stahl and Hull said.
You can learn more about the Great Race at www.greatrace.com and follow them next year as they travel from St Augustine, Fl. to Colorado Springs, Co.