Passion Drives the Great Race

Jun 19, 2017

As Depot Town prepares to welcome Great Race participants and spectators, Ypsi Real connected with the organizers of this spectacular event to learn more about the passion behind the event. 

Jeff Stumb, Director of Great Race, Tours & Events, took a moment to describe his experience with Great Race contributors, and the overall feeling of this highly anticipated event. He explained it was his participation in the Great Race that got him “hooked right away.” After nearly 10 years of competing with likeminded vintage car lovers, Stumb was asked to become the director of the race in 2011. His experience as a contestant, supporter, and prominent affiliate of the Great Race has given him the opportunity to appreciate the spirit of the event from more than one perspective.

After taking off in 1983, the Great Race attracted people from all over the country. The public was immediately fascinated with the idea a competitive vintage car rally, just as Jeff was when he discovered it over a decade later. It is his opinion that the Great Race is an “iconic figure in the old car world;” it sells out nearly a year in advance every year. Dedicated car enthusiasts travel from all over the world, including Japan, Germany, England, and Canada. With over 120 cars and about 500 participants, the Great Race is an experience unlike any other.

As the classic cars begin rolling into Depot Town around 5 p.m., Jeff estimates at least 1,500 people will be anxiously awaiting their arrival. After traveling almost 1,500 miles over six days, participants will be eager to stretch their legs and interact with the spectators. “They love hearing how a grandfather had a car just like the one they are driving. They also love to answer questions about how the race works,” Jeff explained. Last year, the five overnight stops brought out an excess of 10,000 people per city.

Jack Miller, co-founder of the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum, was described by his friend Jeff as “a fixture in Ypsilanti and the old car world.” Their relationship gave Ypsilanti the opportunity to become a host for a lunch stop during the 2012 Great Race. The abundance of automotive history in Ypsilanti left the Great Race team with a lasting impression, eventually leading to the city’s involvement with the 2017 Great Race. “Although Jack is not at the museum daily any more, we still wanted to involve Depot Town and the museum,” Jeff said. When the Dixie Highway route was selected for 2017, Ypsilanti was the first place that came to mind when selecting hosts for an overnight stop. 

Dubbed as “the most unique event in all of motorsports” by director Jeff Stumb, the Great Race is a memorable experience for the entire family to enjoy. The internationally recognized endurance rally will venture through Ypsilanti at 4:45 p.m. Thursday, June 29. Visitors and residents are encouraged to attend the car rally in Depot Town and take advantage of this unique opportunity. You won’t find an experience like this anywhere else in the world.

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