Students in the Automotive Restoration program at McPherson College will be getting their “kicks” on Route 66 this summer as they enter the annual “Great Race” for the third year in a row.
Started in 1983, competitors in The Great Race are scored on how close they come to a specific time at random checkpoints along the course. It’s also a showcase of classic and antique cars, as only cars up through model year 1972 are eligible to compete. This year, the course will follow the past of old Route 66 for more than 2,000 miles from Kirkwood, Mo. (just outside of St. Louis) to Santa Monica, Calif., from June 20 to June 28.
Brian Martin, director of auto restoration projects at McPherson College, said the roots of Route 66’s mystique extend back to the 1930s – when people used it as their way west during the Great Depression. That reputation became layered with romance and nostalgia during the 1950s, when Route 66 was the main route for West Coast vacations and all manner of fun and kitschy gas stations, restaurants, and other attractions sprung up in small towns and cities all along the thoroughfare.
“It was the automotive Oregon Trail,” Martin said.
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 painted in the college’s colors of red and white. This year, the competitors from MC will be Jacob O’Gorman of Canada, Austin Hiebert of Kansas, Matt Goist of Ohio, and Martin.
In both 2013 and 2014, McPherson College took first place in the X-Cup Division for youth and educational institutions. This year the competition will be a bit deeper, but Martin was confident that MC will perform well again.
“The best part about it is proving you can build a car that can work that long on such a fine edge,” Martin said. “It can’t just run, it has to run well the whole time. I think that really shows off the ability of our students.”
McPherson College invites all alumni, friends and car-lovers to see the Fairlane, chat with the drivers and navigators, and learn more about MC at any of the stops along The Great Race route. To learn more about The Great Race and see the entire race schedule, visitwww.greatrace.com. To follow the MC team, be sure to “Like” the department’s Facebook page atwww.facebook.com/MCautorestoration. Also, you can support the team with a sponsorship gift to cover costs such as fuel, lodging, vehicle preparation and registration costs atwww.mcpherson.edu/great-race.
Contacts: Adam Pracht, public relations coordinator, 620-242-0425, [email protected]
Amanda Gutierrez, vice president for automotive restoration, 620-242-0424, [email protected]