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Vintage autos in Great Race stop in Wellsville

Photo by Kathryn Ross

One of the first cars to stop at the Wellsville campus of Alfred State College for lunch was a 1930 Ford Speedster driven by Keith Wallace and Rick McIntosh of Lockport.


By KATHRYN ROSS

WELLSVILLE — A good thing for everyone.

When the antique and vintage automobiles started rolling past the Alfred State College sign a little after 12:30 p.m. June 20 everyone from the race organizers, government and college officials, car owners and hundreds of spectators agreed the 2022 Great Race running through Wellsville and Allegany County was a great thing.

Starting from Binghamton early in the morning, a circuitous route brought the 127 race cars into Wellsville from the south on Route 19. Leaving Wellsville via Route 417, they were scheduled to spend the night in Erie, Pa., as they make their way across country to Fargo, N.D. While efforts were made to have the race route travel Main Street, race officials refused to alter the route.

Even so, Allegany County Legislature Chairman Phillip Stockin and new president of Alfred State College Steve Mauro, along with Mike Ronan of Alfred State’s Automotive Trades Department, said the route through Wellsville and the county was beneficial.

“It is a great thing for the county. It is good to have the racers see how wonderful and beautiful the county is,” Stockin said.

Mauro added, “We’re really pleased to be a stop on the Great Race Route. It is good for the community and good for the college,.”

Ronan said the Great Race stop is good for the college because it brings nationwide attention to the school. “It gives our school national exposure.”

Jeff Stumb, director of the Great Race had a special reason for steering the race through the county.

He explained, “When we decided that the route would be coming through this part of the state, we knew we wanted to make a stop in Wellsville and visit the Alfred State campus here. Six out of the last eight years of the race there has been a team from Alfred State driving the school’s old truck. The kids have always been very helpful to the other racers, taking time to help drivers whose cars have broken down and helping other teams.”

As a result, the Great Race, which raises funds for charities, has sponsored a scholarship for a student in the Alfred Automotive Trades Department.

“We wanted our divers to see what the students do here,” he said, adding, “The food is just a bonus.” Lunch was provided by the school’s Culinary Arts Department.

One of the drivers in the Great Race, Craig Floyd of the Early Ford V8 Foundation Museum of Alburn, Ind., driving a 1953 Ford F-100 said his reason for driving in the race is, “We want to bring younger people into this sport.” His group sponsored two young teams.

Several local antique and vintage car owners parked their vehicles on display during the approximately four-hour long event. The Great Race drivers parked their cars for public display briefly for the lunch break. All 127 teams arrived about a minute apart in three stages. The Race is a speed endurance race. Drivers are timed throughout the race and the team with the best time in each of five divisions wins part of the $150,000 purse. The grand champion wins $50,000.

Stumb said that the cars are timed at secret check points several times throughout the day. They are not allowed to speed.

The last Great Race travelled through Wellsville in 1994 with cars parking on Main Street for lunch. The winner of the first Great Race in 1908, a 22,000-mile New York to Paris race (headed west) was won by George Shuster Sr. from Buffalo in a Thomas Flyer built in Buffalo. His great, grandson, Jeff Marl is a 1999 graduate of Alfred State College.

The present Great Race was started in 1983. Due to COVID-19 no race was held in 2020. The race has traveled across all 48 states and parts of Canada. It is for automobiles manufactured prior to 1974. There are five divisions, Grand Championship, Expert, Sportsman, X-Cap and Rookie.

In Wellsville there were two distinctive vehicles a 1918 American La France which has been in every race and a 1929 Ford Model A, the only car which has been part of the race in all 48 states. In the 2022 race there are entries from Australia, France, Germany, England and the Netherlands.