Although an ‘odd’ looking race, The Great Race has become one which many drivers prepare for many months in advance.
Unlike any race, this one has mostly older antique vehicles driving through many states for a week, with stipulations on how fast they can drive and how long it takes them to reach each day’s destination to receive points.
Josh Hull, with co-pilot Trevor Stahl, is a team that Craig County residents via for.
Hull got hooked on The Great Race the moment he found out about it. He and his best friend and navigator, Stahl, celebrated their first win last year.
On last Thursday night, Hull provided The New Castle Record with the following comment, “Not only did we win the race last year, but we also had a top three best score in the history of the Great Race. We are looking forward to defending our championship from last year! Also, to be back with our competitors as they truly become our family.”
He noted that last year the race did not start off very well.
“Coming off of our calibration run in the morning, we lost 90-some percent of our brakes. With only minutes to spare prior to the start of the race, I found a hole in our master cylinder that would shoot out a one-foot stream of brake fluid every time I pushed on the brakes. I was able to remove a screw from our exhaust system and plug the hole with it,” Hull added. “The entire day I had no brake lights or signals, so I had to use motorcycle signals the entire day.”
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 sat in the backseat of a friend’s antique car, driving across country, on a ‘whim’ to join in.
So, that is what happens when pastimes become dreams, people seem to come alive.
That is just what happened to Josh Hull and in just nine years, is now making history in the ‘Stars and Stripes’ car.
Craig County EMS members as well as residents follow their week-long race across the country, as Hull used to be a part-time paramedic in the county.
“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 to Roanoke City in 2007.”
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.”
“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!”
This year, the 2023 Great Race of antique vehicles began in Florida on June 24, and will end in Colorado on July 2. More than 120 classic cars and trucks started their race at 11 a.m. on Saturday, headed to Colorado in what has been called North America’s largest vintage car rally.
Their schedule is set daily:
- Saturday, they will drive from St. Francis field in St. Augustine, Florida and then to Tifton, Georgia.
- Sunday, they will stop for lunch at Toomer’s Corner in Alabama and then continue to Uptown at Protective Stadium in Birmingham.
- Monday they will drive to Missouri and have lunch at The Veterans Park in Tupelo and then proceed to Graceland Memphis Tennessee for the night.
- Tuesday, June 27, they will drive and have lunch at North Little Rock Arizona and then drive to Russellville Depot in Russellville Arizona.
- Wednesday they will stop for lunch at Eureka Springs Arizona and continue to downtown Joplin Missouri for the evening.
- Thursday they will drive to Lyon County Fairgrounds in Emporia Kansas and then to Riverfront Stadium in Wichita for the night.
- Friday they will drive to Britt Spaugh Park and Zoo in Great Bend Kansas. Their afternoon drive will take them to Main Street at Stevens Park in Garden City.
- Saturday they will drive to the Colorado Welcome Center in Lamar and then to Pueblo Union Depot in Pueblo Colorado.
- They will finish the race on Sunday as they enter Colorado Springs, Colorado about 1 p.m.
The Hemmings share that The Great Race is not a typical race, but a controlled-speed competitive endurance rally for vehicles that were built before 1975.
Vehicles as new as those built before 1975 are eligible to enter and many pre-World War II cars participate.
This year’s race gathering started with an open house and reception at the Classic Car Museum in St. Augustine.
They also had a “Trophy Run” which is a warmup rally to get ready for the next day’s 2,300-mile adventure.
Hull and Stahl shared that it was a great surprise to come back and be greeted by a huge crowd of spectators and great food.
“Even though the Trophy Run scores do not apply toward the overall race scores, it’s still a great chance to get acclimated to the conditions and car,” Hull and Stahl said. “Our short route had some challenges, and sunny skies and the great scenery made for excellent views.”
They also added that they finished the day with a “little dirt (sand) road action before going back to the hotel where they enjoyed live music, a banquet and an auction which raised over $20,000 for the Scott Henderson Student Scholarship program which benefits students in the X-cup Division.”
In 2021, their ‘Stars and Stripes,’ ended up in 6th place overall and 3rd place in the Expert Division.
Stahl is still local as well and owns the Blacksburg and Roanoke Fit Body Boot Camp.
“While we are driving, 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.”
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!”
This year they were 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!”
On their first day of racing, Hull shared that they got a little soaked! “But then dried off really quick in the Georgia heat. We ended day one 2nd place overall with two aces.”
A couple days later, Hull shared that he had been “under the weather and the deep south heat is taking its toll”.
He added, “This race has been one of the best and toughest thus far. The scenery has been spectacular, and the course has been challenging. We made our way through Luke Brian’s hometown, went by Elvis’s birth place and visited Graceland.”
On Wednesday, they were in fourth place overall, second place in the Grand Champion and only two seconds out of first place.
“One of the biggest challenges in an open cockpit is the elements. We have had to endure triple degree temperatures of weather every day, rain, and wind across the Great Plains. It really takes a lot out of you.” Hull stated in his message to me Thursday night.
“But we finished first overall for the day and today’s score moved us into first place overall in the race!” Hull exclaimed. “However, there are only a few seconds separating the top four, so it is still anyone’s race.”
He added, “Since we did well last year and won the whole thing, this year we decided to keep the car like it was. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it!”
Those interested can learn more about the Great Race at www.greatrace.com.
Stahl and Hull extend their heartfelt thanks to all those who follow along with them on social media and support the team.