ANAHEIM, CA. - Over 60 old classic cars, muscle cars and hot rods roared across the finish line of The Great American Race earlier this month in Anaheim.
First place and $25,000 went to 15-year old Charlie Wheeler and his uncle Bob LaBine.
Their 1928 Ford Model A Boattail Speedster proved to be durable enough to endure the 4,000 mile, 14 day endurance race from Concord, NC to Anaheim, CA.
Seventy-two teams started the race, with only 57 finishing. The route across America proved especially tough for the classic cars and racers as they endured torrential downpours including hail, desert heat and steep mountain climbs.
But for LaBine and Wheeler the obstacles they encountered were not enough to derail their consistency throughout the event.
"Before I did the race I couldn't believe people would race within seconds of perfect accuracy, it always seemed impossible," said Wheeler. "There is nothing like the feeling I have right now."
They ended with 1020 cumulative points, which was 83 more points than the second place team of Bill Harper and Larry Blair from Hendersonville, NC. Blair brings with him a history of racing on dirt tracks, drag races, and hydroplanes.
"I've raced all of my life, when you get to be a little old there are still things you have to do, and this is it, so we're excited." said Blaire. "I give a lot of credit to my navigator, we went down one road that I thought was wrong, but he stuck with it and here we are today with $10,000."
2006 Great Race champions Dave Reeder and Sawyer Stone, age 14, finished in third with 929 points. But the team is not discouraged; they purposely switched cars this year, moving from their 1916 Hudson to a 1932 Ford to get ready for next years race from New York to Paris.
"We did the best we could with the new car, we knew the Hudson inside and out and were still trying to learn the 32' and that's the difference" said Stone. "I can't wait for next year."
"Team Bummfuzzle," Pat and Ali Schulte and their 1965 Porsche 356 C took first place in the rookie class, taking home $10,000.
"When the car wouldn't go into any gear but fourth we had no choice but to drive with it like that, we didn't care what time we got just as long as we made the finish," said Pat.
After the couple sailed around the world together for three and a half years, the Great Race was next on their list of what they wanted to accomplish.
"The prize money will pay for the Volkswagon that we plan to take as we travel through Central and South America. We will be leaving in October but we will be back in time for the Great Race next year." explained Ali.