BARRY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Car lovers from throughout West Michigan converged on the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners Thursday. That’s because the Great Race made a stop there.
The Great Race is a nine-day, 2,100-mile race that began in Jacksonville, Fla. and ends in Traverse City on Sunday. The race is limited to vehicle model years 1972 and older.
“A lot of our wonderful cars came from right here in Michigan, and so they’re all coming home,” said Corky Coker, owner of the Great Race.
People from across the country participate, including teams from Michigan. It’s not a test of top speed. Instead, teenage navigators follow precise course instructions and tell their older drivers where to go.
“The navigator has to be on his game the whole entire time,” said Jacob Taylor, 17, a navigator for the Gilmore Garage Works High School Team, who added he’s been involved with the Gilmore Garage Works program since he was a freshman in high school.
There’s a story behind this team of navigators that has a deeper meaning than vintage cars. Larry Baum, the team’s sponsor, says it’s about learning to grow up and be a good citizen.
“They’re just wonderful kids,” Baum said. “They really change. And this gave some of these kids an opportunity of a lifetime.”
Baum and his wife paid approximately $30,000 to sponsor the Gilmore Garage Works High School Team this year. But it was to provide mentorship for these young adults, not just to race a vintage car.
“They’re wonderful kids,” Baum said. “And maybe we saved their lives.”
“Yes, it’s a team effort, but there’s a bigger team than just 10 that are here,” Taylor said. “There’s hundreds of people behind us, so, we appreciate it.”