Joplin will host an overnight stop on the 2020 Hemmings Motor News Great Race early this summer, race organizers and the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau announced Monday.
The Great Race, the world’s premiere old-car rally, will bring 120 antique automobiles to Joplin, with the first car rolling into downtown starting at 5 p.m. Monday, June 22.
It will be just one stop on the 2,300-mile, 10-state route, which will begin in front of the Alamo in San Antonio on June 20, and will finish in Greenville, South Carolina, on June 28. Teams and cars from the U.S., England, Canada, Germany and Japan will participate in vintage automobiles dating to 1916.
The Great Race is a time/speed/distance rally. The vehicles, each with a driver and navigator, are given precise instructions each day that detail every move down to the second. They are scored at secret checkpoints along the way; the lowest score wins. If all goes according to plan, cars start and finish one minute apart.
In addition to Joplin, overnight stops will be in Tyler, Texas; Ardmore, Oklahoma; Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Owensboro, Kentucky; Lexington, Kentucky; Beckley, West Virginia; and Mooresville, North Carolina. Lunch stops along the route will be in San Marco, Texas; Granbury, Texas; Sapulpa, Oklahoma; Rolla, Missouri; Paducah, Kentucky; Huntington, West Virginia; and Galax, Virginia.
"When the Great Race pulls into a city, it becomes an instant festival," director Jeff Stumb said in a statement. "Last year, we had a couple of overnight stops with more than 10,000 spectators on our way to having 250,000 people see the Great Race during the event."
Once they reach Joplin's finish line, which is planned at Sixth and Main streets, the vehicles are expected to be on display to the public. A show of local vintage cars and food trucks also is being planned in downtown Joplin, said Patrick Tuttle, director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"It has been a five-year effort working with the organizers to align the Great Race route to come through Joplin," he said in a statement. "We are excited they will be overnighting in Joplin — not just passing through."
The Great Race, which began in 1983, takes its name from the 1965 film "The Great Race," a comedy based on the real-life 1908 automobile race from New York to Paris. The film gained a following from late-night showings on ESPN during the early 1980s.
Cars built in 1974 and earlier are eligible, with most entries having been manufactured before World War II. A 1916 Hudson, a 1917 Peerless Racer and a chain-driven 1918 American LaFrance Speedster are the oldest cars scheduled for the 2020 race.
The event’s main sponsors are Hemmings Motor News, Hagerty Drivers Club, Coker Tire and Reliable Carriers.
The 2020 Great Race has $150,000 in total prize money available to winners.