The Epic Car Adventure

I don’t throw around the word “epic” too often, but it is absolutely appropriate for my experience with the Great Race. It’s not normal to drive 3,700 miles in a 13-day span, while taking more than 5,000 pictures of some the world’s finest collector cars ever to compete in a time, speed, endurance rally. For me, it was a two-week stretch of 18 hour work days, traveling from place to place in a mini van. For the people actually competing in the Great Race, it was a little more exciting because they were doing it in pre-1969 vehicles. Although it was an incredible amount of work, we survived and came out of it with about a million good stories.

Great Race 2012

The beautiful beach front by the Holiday Inn hotel in Traverse City, Michigan. Beautiful skies and ultra-clear water would be a regular thing by the end of our trip.

Great Race 2012

Before the actual race started, we had a warm-up rally that sent us to a small town called Empire. I’ve never see skies so crisp and blue…it was a wonderful day to be photographing cars.

So, let’s set this up: My wife went on this trip as a volunteer to sell souvenir merchandise, so that certainly helped us get through this long stretch without going insane. Also on the trip was a good portion of the Coker Tire Marketing Team. We had Jason White handling video production, Wallace Braud as our second videographer, and Aaron Wolfe and Michael Mattheiss as Production Assistants. The five of us handled all things media and we did a great deal of event planning in the months prior to the Great Race. We’d decided to attack Facebook with photos, videos and updates, so we tasked everyone with uploading stuff in all hours of the day (and night) to make sure we covered the event properly. In addition to that, we all had plenty of responsibilities, which kept us quite busy for the duration of the event.

Great Race 2012

After kicking off the event in Traverse City, we traveled to our lunch stop in Saint Ignace, Michigan. Yet another awesome waterfront town…

Great Race 2012

Then, we motored to Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan for the overnight stop. While the town wasn’t nearly as pristine as the others we had visited so far, it was literally on the border of the United States and Canada.

Great Race 2012

Early the next morning, we crossed the border into Canada. It went smoothly for everyone, but the weather didn’t make my job any easier….dreary days are always tough conditions for action photography.

For Christina and I, the event started on June 20th at 6am. We loaded up in a Coker Tire cargo van and headed north. It was my first time pulling a trailer…what better way to learn than an 815 mile trip to Traverse City, Michigan? So, after battling I-75 for about seven hours we had our first major problem. The van picked up a terrible vibration, the kind that leaves little doubt that something was wrong. So, about 100 miles south of Toledo, we pull off the highway to check it out. Sure enough, the belts in the rear tires had separated, so we found the nearest service center and had them replaced. Two hours later, we were back on the road with more than five hours of driving remaining on the day’s agenda.

Great Race 2012

I truly have no idea where this picture was taken, but I was standing on a one-lane wooden bridge on the most secluded back road I’ve ever seen. On this particular road, we drove for more than an hour without seeing a single house or vehicle.

Great Race 2012

After surviving the lonely wilderness, we finally made it back to civilization. The overnight stop in Sudbury, Ontario offered this great sunset with a smoke stack silhouetted in the foreground. I shot this out of the hotel window.

Great Race 2012

The next day, we stopped at this amazing lock, which is formally called a marine railroad. We climbed to the roof of the operation building and grabbed a few shots, while patiently awaiting for the massive machine to do its thing.

Great Race 2012

And here is this crazy thing in action. All of this incredibly heavy steel, along with the weight of a boat, is driven by a series of cables. It drives right across the road on its rails….crazy!

After arriving at the Days Inn in Traverse City at 10:30 that night, we slept a few hours and met the rest of the Great Race crew at the host hotel at 7am the next morning. After last year’s experience with the Great Race, I knew that a 12am-6am sleeping schedule would likely be the routine for the rest of our trip. Some days, it wasn’t quite so bad, but others (such as the final two days) were especially brutal because of a lack of sleep. Luckily, we handed off the van and trailer, as Christina drove a rental Impala and I rode with the video production crews for the duration of the race. A nine hour drive on day-13 of our trip brought us home to Tennessee once again.

Great Race 2012

Another stop in Canada, Barrie had a nice waterfront area, so that’s where we had our Day 3 overnight stop. Pretty nice place, but the hotel was not the greatest.

Great Race 2012

Day 4 sent us back into the wilderness, but the road wasn’t nearly as secluded as our one-lane bridge photo location. Of course, I had to snag a picture of the moose and deer crossing sign.

Great Race 2012

As a surprise to the racers, the route sent them into Quebec, so we followed them to get pictures of a few cars as they passed the sign. And then we left.

Great Race 2012

We have these in Tennessee but most of ’em say STOP. Crazy Canadians…

There are many stories to be told out of this great car guy adventure, but there’s no way I could fit them all in a singular post. With that in mind, I have separated my favorite pictures into three groups–Places, People and Things. This one is all about places that we visited during our journey, and I’ll follow it with the other two shortly. Look for lots of stories, lots of pictures and by the time it’s all over, you’ll have a strange desire to see what this race is all about.

Great Race 2012

Okay, one last picture from Canada and we’ll be heading back to my home turf. This is downtown Kingston, Ontario, which has a bunch of really cool buildings. Behind me is more water…at this point in the trip, the super blue water had lost its shimmer.

Great Race 2012

This picture won’t win any awards, but it certainly provides a good perspective of the hill I stood on to capture it. Taken at 200mm focal length (longest lens I had), the car is tiny, but some creative positioning made it an interesting shot.

Great Race 2012

After going through rural New York, we landed in Fairport for the lunch stop. They have a canal in the middle of town with an awesome lift bridge. EDIT: My wife informed me that it’s not just “a canal”…it’s the Eric Canal.

Great Race 2012

We didn’t get to spend much time in Mansfield, Ohio, but it’s a very cool town. Lots of great buildings, many of which were used in the filming of Shawshank Redemption…we passed by the prison but I failed to get a photo of it.

Great Race 2012

The Great Race ended at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, so rather than showing you a picture of the outside, here’s a shot of some neon goodness inside the museum. What an incredible place! Stay tuned for more pictures from our Great Race adventure!

Advertisements

48 thoughts on “The Epic Car Adventure

  1. looks like good fun keeping all them old bangers going for such a long journey……i owned a 1966 ford cortina mk1 for many years and was it hard to find spare parts…….many times ad hoc repairs were done with whatever could be found or made………

    • You wouldn’t believe how much work it took to keep these cars on the road for that many miles. I think we ended up losing a dozen cars due to mechanical breakdowns.

      –TLB

  2. What a fantastic adventure!!! Hadn’t realized when I chose to read your post that you were the group who landed in Fairport, NY. I remember hearing about the stop ~ it was quite newsworthy here.
    Photo’s are great and I do live the one you took up on the hill, the car on the road and the field in the background, among all the rest.

  3. I scoffed at your title at first: “pfft, epic car adventures, I’ve had lots of those…” but no you win. Sounds like a lot of fun and the pics are great! I laughed at your caption of the Quebec stop sign too. I’m from B.C. and ours say “stop,” but some parts of Canada have both languages. We’re confused (@_@)

  4. What a great adventure. Tennessee to Quebec! The photos are lovely: great perspectives and common, yet unique, signage makes for a road trip to remember.
    irunibreathe.wordpress.com

    • Haha, it’s a once in a lifetime adventure that happens every year. Next year, the Great Race starts in St. Paul, MN and I’ll likely be photographing it as well. Thanks for checking out the blog!

      –TLB

  5. Wait a minute, you’re in a Coker Tire cargo van and didn’t have any tires? *scratching head* 😉
    I would love to do something like this! How exciting! It looks like you had a blast! Love the pictures! Thanks for sharing your adventure!

  6. Great experience and neat photos. Reminds me of a trip I took on the Alcan Highway in 1969 in my new (at that time) VW Karmann Ghia. Back then, I saw a lot of road but few people or cars. Times have changed. Thanks for the outstanding photos…takes me back many years.

    • Thanks! Rainy conditions are tough, but it definitely adds some variety to the pictures. Some of the open-wheel cars throw huge rooster tails off the tires during rainy days so it makes for cool shots.

      –TLB

    • Yeah, the 6-hour sleep routine wore us down pretty quickly. By the last day, all of our production crew guys were exhausted. The worst part of all was knowing that we had to make a 600-mile drive to get home after the finish!

      –TLB

  7. love road trips! I dont get to road trip anymore; kids and focused driving – get there, get home. and stop to enjoy the sights sounds of places. Years ago, took a trip from Atlanta to SF – had so muich fun along the way, but it was before a digital camera and had to scrimp on photos. Thanks for sharing and congrats of Freshly Pressed!

  8. This looks incredible! And, your photos are great! 🙂
    Now, for all you people out there with an amazing story to share (and I’ll save you the time of reading a long description, you can see that on my blog), have a look at my blog, I’m trying out a new idea of collecting stories from all sorts of interesting people: http://pragmaticallyeccentric.wordpress.com/share-your-story/

    Don’t worry, it’s no spam, I’m just a 15 year-old girl in need of a Summer project and with a love of stories, I’d like to read them as much as the next person. So, I’m building a collection (or hoping to). Please, just take a look. Thank you.

  9. When you had “epic” in the title I had to see if it truly was epic. Then I loved that you start by saying you don’t throw that word around a lot so I was along for the ride! I love this amazing journey, my favorites being the large field and the bridge and the idea that at some points, there were hardly any or no people around! What a way to be present!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s