BECKLEY, W.V. (LOOPTRESS) – From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, June 25, the City of Beckey will welcome the Great Race- a time, speed and endurance rally open to cars built before 1972.
The Great Race was first held in 1983 after Tom McRae and Norman Miller partnered the deal and bought out an ailing race promoter who had placed to race pre-Worl War II automobiles across the United States. The pair wanted to create one of the greatestest marvels in automobile history, and many believe they did just that.
A successful first event resulted in a yearly competition full of interesting race routes and unforgettable views.
The 2021 race will see more than 100 participants from across the country. The race will kick off in San Antonio, Texas, on Saturday, June 19, and racers will cross the finish line in Greenville, South Carolina on Sunday, June 27.
After making their way through Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kentucky, racers will cut through West Virginia at Huntington and Beckley’s Word Park on Day 7. Racers will have an overnight stay in Beckley before moving on to Virginia, North Carolina, and finishing in The Palmetto State, where the Grand Champion will win $50,000.
Beckley has already expressed its excitement to be a stop on the Great Race’s 2,300-mile map. The city’s local committee met at The Raleigh Playhouse & Theatre Wednesday morning to further discuss planning.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to host this event,” Jill Moorfield, Director of Beckley Events, stated. “It’s a really big deal.”
The City of Beckley has welcomed the Great Race twice before as lunch stops- once in 1995 and again in 2005- but this is the first time the city has been an overnight stop for the event.
“They’ll get to stay a little longer for this one and spend the evening with the locals. The city is just excited to be on the list and show off our town.”
Downtown will prepare for the racers’ visit for the majority of Friday, June 25. Word Park will be blocked off all day, and the city will be blocking off Neville Street to Heber Street at 2 p.m. and Heber and Main Streets to Kanawha Street at 5 p.m.
According to Moorefield, the event’s opening ceremonies will begin around 5:30 p.m. and the first racer should appear in town around 5:50 p.m. The racers will arrive in town roughly one minute apart.
The event, which is being sponsored by Visit Southern West Virginia alongside the City of Beckey, is family-friendly and free to the public. The community will offer welcoming festivities to the racers while Randy Gilkey and Budden Allen & Cheat River Band provide live music until 8:30 p.m. There will also be food vendors and a show of local classic and antique cars.
Moorefield says downtown will offer plenty of parking but that spectators should try to be set up earlier as they are expecting a crowd.