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McPherson Great Race

By: Adam Pracht

A traveling summer camp for car geeks… Exhausting… The most fun you can have driving under 50 miles per hour. That’s how students at McPherson College in Kansas have referred to The Great Race – a famous annual road rally that sends classic and antique cars thousands of miles across multiple states in a race of precision and endurance. Started in 1983, competitors are scored on how close they come to a specific time at random checkpoints along the course. McPherson College – the only college that offers a bachelor’s degree in automotive restoration – started entering the competition in 2013 with student drivers and navigators in a 1957 Ford Fairlane. That first year in a rally down the track of the Mississippi, the college team took top prize in the X-Cup division for youth and student teams. Then in 2014 with a course down the East Coast, the college team took the division again. Jacob O’Gorman, junior, Ennismore, Ontario, was one of two drivers for the college in last year’s rally from Ogunquit, Maine, to The Villages, Fla. He said it took a while to refine and develop the skill of rally racing. “Once you have it down it’s a lot of fun,” O’Gorman said. “A little stressful before that.” Now the college team is trying to make it three-for-three as they prepare for the 2015 Great Race, which will run a bit closer to home this time. This year, the rally will follow Route 66 from Kirkwood, Mo., to Santa Monica, Calif. – making its way through a corner of Kansas on the way. The Great Race will run June 20 to 28, and the college all alumni, friends, or anyone else who loves beautiful cars. Tony diValentin of Fort Myers Fla., was the only student to compete on both the 2013 and 2014 McPherson College teams, as a driver. Although he’s now graduated, diValentin said he expects that rally races are going to be part of his life for many years to come. “When you catch the rally bug,” he said, “It’s really hard to get it out of your system.” To see pictures and read blog entries from the MC team during The Great Race, visit greatracebulldogs.wordpress.com, and to see where the team will be traveling this year, go to www.greatrace.com. Contact: Adam Pracht, public relations coordinator, 620-242-0425, prachta@mcpherson.edu

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