Facebook pixel STLCC Team Won’t Feel Need for Speed in Great Race

STLCC Team Won’t Feel Need for Speed in Great Race

STLCC's Great Race team

UPDATE July 12: STLCC students Evan Welch, Spencer Clark, Kyle Kannawurf, Christian Maczura and Nathan Depelheuer receive $2,000 scholarships each; STLCC receives $2,500 scholarship.

UPDATE July 3: STLCC finished fourth out of 8 in the X-Cup Division, and 46th out of 124 overall. Daily Great Race  highlights are posted on the STLCC Automotive Studies facebook page.

UPDATE June 28: Josh Walker interview on KSN-16 in Joplin, Mo., after the 10th of 17 stops during the Great Race. 


Original Story
Students from St. Louis Community College will be among those competing  in a multi-state automobile race in which the winning team does not drive the fastest car.

2023 Great Race logoThey will participate in the 2023 Great Race, which begins June 24 in St. Augustine, Fla., and winds through nine states before concluding July 2 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Great Race is an antique, vintage and collector car competitive, controlled-speed endurance road rally on public highways. It is not a test of top speed. It is a test of a driver/navigator team’s ability to follow precise course instructions and the car’s – and team’s – ability to endure on a cross-country trip. The course instructions require the teams to drive at or below the posted speed limits at all times.

STLCC team members are students Evan Welch, Spencer Clark, Kyle Kannawurf, Christian Maczura and Nathan Depelheuer, and Josh Walker, associate professor of diesel technology at STLCC-Forest Park.

This marks the first time an STLCC team will compete in the Great Race. They are entered in the X Cup Division for schools that offer an automotive program.

“I opened up the opportunity to all interested automotive and diesel technology students,” Walker said. “The previous year, I only had one student who was interested and available, so we could not participate. But this year, I was shocked to have five students interested.”

Seeking a Time of 0:00

Each day, the driver and navigator team receive a set of course instructions that indicate every turn, speed change, stop and start that the team must make throughout the day. There are usually 220-250 instructions per day. Along the course route, there are four to seven checkpoints recording the exact time that the team passes that point. The objective is to arrive at each checkpoint at the correct time.  The score for each team is the result of the team’s ability to follow the designated course instructions precisely. Every second off the perfect time of “0,” be it early or late, at each checkpoint is a penalty point.

The course is calculated for the speeds listed, so any time lost during turns or stops needs to be made up. The student navigators are allowed a stopwatch, and the directions, which are largely landmark based. To increase the difficulty, GPS, phones, maps or computers are not permitted, and odometers are covered.

“This is a test of human mental agility and endurance as well as classic car endurance, rather than programming capability,” Walker said. “The course avoids timed segments on interstate highways, opting instead for scenic local, county and state highways whenever possible through some of the prettiest country in the United States.”

STLCC's Great Race vehicleAge Has Its Advantages

Any car up through model year 1974 is eligible to enter. For purposes of scoring, the older the vehicle, the better the age factor adjustment the team will receive.

STLCC’s entry is a 1950 Ford Custom on loan from the Early Ford V8 Museum in Auburn, Ind. Herb Clark, an ambassador for the Restoration, Preservation and Mentorship (RPM) Foundation, has assisted with team preparation.

“After several months of training in-person, Zoom calls and actual on-the-course experience, I really feel good about the STLCC team Josh has put together,” Clark said. “This is an international event. Every day, tens of thousands of people will be showing up to see the race teams. Many of the participants are generally car enthusiasts and/or owners of automotive industry companies. This is tremendous exposure for the students and the school.”

Feeling the Need for Speed (Limit)

The winning times are remarkably close. For example, during the Great Race Spring Regional Rally in Auburn, Ind., May 19-21, Walker said the difference between first and second place was seven-tenths of a second. One STLCC entry in this event finished 21st out of 65 teams.

“I can't believe how much of an adrenaline rush this experience is,” Walker said. “At the start of the race, all the cars are lined up, and your heart is pounding. It's hard to believe the speeds are all five miles per hour or more under the speed limit.”

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