Gilmore Car Museum Garage Works High School Students Compete in 2017 Great Race!

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The esteemed Great Race made a stop at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan on June 29, 2017. Over 120 pre-1972 autos will be traveling more than 2,200 miles from Jacksonville, FL to Traverse City, MI—much of it along the historic Dixie Highway—in a nine-day vintage car endurance rally competition.

Fred Colgren, Gilmore Car Museum Director of Education, announced in January of 2017 that a team of high school students and volunteer mentors from Gilmore Garage Works, an after-school program that provides hands-on involvement with maintaining and restoring vintage cars, would run in the 2017 Great Race.  Unlike the name implies, it’s not about high speed racing but an endurance rally where following precise instructions and arriving on time each day are key. Of the over 100 entrants, seven teams from high school and college programs will run in the X-Cup Division, and while they won’t compete for cash, they will compete for possible student scholarship funds.

The Gilmore Garage Works Great Race team consisted of 3 adult mentors (Robert Johnson, Mike Onderline, and Bradley Wire), 5 high school students (Madison Gremore, Gavin O’Dell, Jacob Onderline, Coleman Rodriguez, and Jakob Taylor), and 2 museum support staff (Fred Colgren and Brittany Williams). Following only precise turn-by-turn written instructions that include such directions as how many seconds to sit at stop signs or the exact speed and distance to accelerate to, the student navigators instructed their driving mentors without using maps, GPS, or calculators.

35-packardThe Gilmore car selected to run the Great Race was a 1935 Packard that was donated to Museum’s Garage Works program by Bea Dinger as a restoration project left unfinished by her late husband, Bud.  While much had been done over the years by various groups of Garage Works students, the sedan still required more work than the program had hours available to complete. To meet the race and training deadlines a group of Museum staff and volunteers have taken it on as an added project in order to give the students a jump start on finishing it in time for the event.

Overall, the 2017 Gilmore Great Race team finished 5th place in the X-Cup division and two team members – Madison and Coleman – each received $1,400 in scholarship money towards their intended automotive-based college curriculum in the fall. Check out additional 2017 Great Race standings and enjoy reading our daily trip blog.

“We were thrilled to give our students the remarkable opportunity to run in the Great Race. It is the world’s premiere vintage car endurance rally and the experiences our team was able to gain is invaluable.” -Fred Colgren, Director of Education

Special thanks to our incredible donors and sponsors – without you this journey would have never been possible!

Larry & Earlene Baum
Kalamazoo Antique Auto Restorer’s Club
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