#GilmoreGreatRace: Stage Five, Franklin to Auburn

We left off last night with the team working feverishly on the Packard, trying to figure out what was wrong with the acceleration and timing. After combing the car, it seemed that the distributor – the device in the engine that passes an electric current to each spark plug – had shifted due to a loose bolt and lost connection, which was in turn effecting the timing, causing poor acceleration. They also identified that a bolt that holds the alternator bracket was missing and needed to be replaced.

Shortly after midnight, two members of the Great Race crew came over to lend a hand with the car, which was amazing. Seamus and “Magic Dave” worked with the team to walk through the issues with the car, and helped us install our replacement distributor and retime the car. While it was a very late night, without the help of Magic Dave, Seamus, and other Great Race teams, we’d still be in the parking lot in Indianapolis. It’s true what people say about the spirit of the event — while we are all competitors, we are also family. 

With Navigator Coleman and Driver Bob safely on the road this morning, the rest of the team headed north for our Stage Five overnight stop, Auburn, Indiana. Once in Auburn, we had time to check out the renowned Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum.

And before we knew it, the first cars were arriving across the finish line on Wayne Street and the Packard arrived shortly before 6pm as expected, running smooth. Coleman (age 18, 2017 graduate from Comstock High School) and Bob (Gilmore Garage Works volunteer mentor from Hastings) sailed under the arch to pick up their scores. While it was a tough day navigating, the pair did a great job communicating and keeping the car under control after a long, late night.

As they came across the finish line tonight, announcers Mike Goodman and Corkie Coker mentioned the decal on the back of the Packard that features a bald face and the words, “Gilmore was here.” This is a play off the world-famous “Kilroy was here” graffiti that went “viral” long before the Internet came into play, finding his way through the theaters of World War II. 

So, who is Kilroy?

In 1946 the American Transit Association, through its radio program “Speak to America,” sponsored a nationwide contest to find the real Kilroy, offering a prize of a real trolley car to the person who could prove himself to be the genuine article.  Almost 40 men stepped forward to make that claim, but only James Kilroy from Halifax, Massachusetts, had evidence of his true identity.

James Kilroy was a 46-year old shipyard worker during WWII who worked as a “checker” at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy and it was his job to go around and check on the number of rivets completed. He would count a block of rivets and put a check mark in semi-waxed lumber chalk so the rivets wouldn’t be counted twice. But, when Kilroy went off duty, the riveters would erase the mark and later an off-shift inspector would come through and count the rivets a second time, resulting in dishonest double pay for the riveters.

One day Kilroy’s boss called him into his office, upset about all the wages being paid to riveters, and asked him to investigate. It was then he realized what had been going on, that the rivets were being counted twice because his original marks were being erased.  The tight spaces he had to crawl in to check the rivets didn’t lend themselves to lugging around a paint can and brush for a permanent mark, so Kilroy decided to stick with the waxy chalk and added ‘KILROY WAS HERE’ in king-sized letters. He eventually also eventually added the sketch of the gent with the long nose peering over the fence and that became part of the famous Kilroy message.

Ordinarily, the rivets and chalk marks would have been covered up with paint but with the war pressing on ships were leaving the Quincy Yard so fast that there wasn’t time to paint them.  As a result, Kilroy’s inspection “trademark” was seen by thousands of servicemen who boarded the troopships the yard produced.

His message stuck with the servicemen, and they began spreading it all over Europe and the South Pacific. Before war’s end, “Kilroy” had been here, there, and everywhere on the long hauls to Berlin and Tokyo. To the troops outbound in those ships, however, he was a complete mystery; all they knew for sure was that someone named Kilroy had “been there first.”  As a joke, U.S.  servicemen began placing the graffiti wherever they landed and Kilroy became the U.S. super-GI who had always “already been” wherever GIs went.

It’s said that it became a challenge to place the logo in the most unlikely places imaginable and it is rumored to even be on the peak of Mt. Everest, the Statue of Liberty, and even the underside of the Arc de Triomphe.

So, now you know – Kilroy has been to the Gilmore Car Museum and left his mark on our 1935 Packard ?

And, speaking of the Gilmore Car Museum, we can’t wait to make a hometown visit tomorrow (6/29) at noon! We’re so excited to see all of you – remember, admission to the museum will be FREE all day long!

Until then,

#GilmoreGreatRace

Scores from today, as well as cumulative scores so far, can be found at http://www.greatrace.com/results.