A VW bug’s great race

News | June 18, 2015


The name is Junebug, and it is setting out on a 2,000-or-so-mile journey along Route 66 from Missouri to California. The journey is called the Great Race, where the “newest” car is a 1972 model, and the oldest is from 1915.

Junebug is a 1971 Volkswagon beetle, all original equipment. Behind the wheel is Duane Haas. Navigator is Dave Schramm. They will travel through Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

Haas_bug“It’s a nine-day-long puzzle,” said Duane, a bit of a restless soul who is looking forward to the adventure. He is blogging along the way. Read the blog.

The Great Race is an antique, vintage, and collector care competitive controlled-speed endurance road rally on scenic local, county, and state highways. It’s not a test of top speed. It’s a test of a driver/navigator team’s ability to follow precise course instructions and the car’s ability to endure a cross-country trip.

The course instructions require the teams to drive at or below the posted speed limits at all times.

Each day, the driver and navigator team receives a set of course instructions that indicate every turn, speed change, stop, and start that the team must make throughout the day. A typical day has approximately 220 to 250 such instructions.

Along the route, there will be 4 to 7 checkpoints recording the exact time that the team passes that point. The objective is to arrive at each checkpoint at the correct time, not the fastest time. Every second off the perfect time (early or late) at each checkpoint is a penalty point.

GPS or computers are not permitted. Odometers are taped over.

Each year, the race takes a different route. Interestingly, the 2016 race will begin in California and end in Moline, following the Lincoln Highway.

Duane and Dave entered the race before Junebug was in the picture. Duane found the car at a car show, and scooped it up. A mechanic from Folletts, Iowa, who is a Volkswagon expert looked it over and gave it the thumbs up. They’ve also driven it quite a bit to test out how it accelerates and stops.

They did reupholster the seats – a 2,000-mile journey requires some cushion. They also have a high-accuracy speedometer, a must for the race.

See a list of all of the participants and their cars.

Duane and Dave have a mentor who will help guide them on this first attempt. Their goal, Duane said, is not to win, but to have a “respectable” finish.

“It’s like a huge moving car show,” Duane said. “We’re really looking forward to seeing the terrain and the topography change as we travel.”

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