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June 23, 2017

#GilmoreGreatRace: Journey to Jacksonville

With an incredible day at Disney World behind us, we got up bright and early to head north to Jacksonville to meet up with our Packard and officially check in for the race. Along the way, we drove up Highway 1 and stopped at Daytona Beach to visit the ocean! We found neat little shells, and even a few tiny jelly fish that washed up in the tide. We arrived in Jacksonville shortly after 1pm and met up with James, a member of the Museum’s Operations team, who trailered the team’s Packard all the way from Michigan to Florida. We got the car and van repacked and drove over to the Great Race host hotel, just a short distance from the support field where our team’s technical inspection would be held later in the day. After a quick lunch and checking into our hotel rooms for the next couple of nights, we headed back down to the support field to meet with Jeff Mehl (X-Cup division coordinator) and the other X-Cup division teams. Throughout the history of the Great Race, it has been a priority to encourage youth to participate, be it as a participant or part of the staff. Eventually, a special class was created for young automotive enthusiasts who wanted to pilot a vintage car in the Great Race. This class has become known as the X-Cup class, where our team is competing. This year, there are a total of X-Cup teams: Murfreesboro, Tennessee Albuquerque, New Mexico Mobile, Alabama Automobile Driving Museum Galax, Virginia Tallahassee, Florida And, yours truly, Gilmore Car Museum After meeting the competition, we lined up for official check in and technical inspection. At check in, the team received their official name badges and we were given our official car number and race start time for tomorrow’s Trophy Run and for Day 1 of the race. During the event, to stagger the rally, they assign each team a start number (different from your car number) and the cars take off from the start line exactly one minute apart based on their start number. We were assigned start time 106, meaning we will officially start exactly 106 minutes after the very first car hits the road. As we lined up on the field for inspection, a Great Race staffer (kudos to these guys, working in the Florida heat and humidity all day!) chatted with our team and performed a basic safety inspection, including seat belts, turn signals, horn, head lights, brake lights….brake lights. The lights weren’t working! The team quickly got to work to figure out what could possibly be wrong – they were just working earlier! They quickly pulled off the taillight bezels, checked wiring going to the lights and fuses, nothing seemed to be an issue there. Then they went under the hood. A quick check of the brake light switch hooked up to master cylinder, there was our problem. The connectors on the wires were loose, causing the lights to malfunction. A smaller size connector would give it a tighter fit…Problem solved! GREAT TEAMWORK! We got the final √ on our inspection roster and we were set to be -- as they say -- stickered up! Great Race Staffers applied all the official race decals, including our official race number 142. The Packard was all set and we are officially ready to race! The team headed out from the inspection lot and over to the Jacksonville Zoo for a dinner event, held in the “House of the Jaguar.” Clever play on words for the auto enthusiasts? We’ll let you be the judge ? But, we did get to see the resident jaguar before heading out for the night, which was super neat!

Tomorrow (Friday, 6/23), we’ll be up early for the first official group meeting of all Great Race participants and for Rally School, a must for all racers. After school, Brad (Driver) and Coleman (Navigator) will head out in the Packard for the first run of the 2017 Great Race – the Trophy Run centered around Jacksonville. The Run will be used as a test race for the car, and scores earned may be used later in the race in case of a tie at the finish line. But for tonight, Team #GilmoreGreatRace, out!