Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City to Stage Start of Classic Car Great Race; Commitment of Main Street Cruise, Event's Previous Visits Seal the Deal

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City to Stage Start of Classic Car Great Race; Commitment of Main Street Cruise, Event's Previous Visits Seal the Deal

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan

A cross-country rally that pits 100-plus classic cars against America's winding back roads will start its 34th annual run next summer at Jacksonville's popular monthly Historic Springfield Main Street Cruise after city officials pledged their support to organizers.

That commitment from the Hemmings Motor News Great Race came after many supporters of the hot rod cruise down Springfield's Main Street lobbied City Hall and pushed for the event on Facebook.

The Great Race is a timed rally for classic cars that ended its 1997 cross-country tour at The Jacksonville Landing, then launched its 2004 event there. Competitors also visited the Historic Main Street Cruise during the 2014 race, cruising past hundreds of fans before hitting the finish line at the Landing again.

Great Race director Jeff Stumb said crowds at those events helped boost Jacksonville past St. Augustine, Daytona Beach and Savannah, the other contenders for the launch of 2017's 1,200-mile rally to Traverse City, Mich. Then David Herrell, Jacksonville's Sports and Entertainment officer, sent him an April 26 letter offering the city for the June 24, 2017, launch.

Herrell could not be reached for comment, but a city spokeswoman confirmed the Great Race and city service support.

"The icing on the cake was the Main Street Cruise folks and their willingness to take on the heavy load and do the heavy lifting to host the start," Stumb said. "The participants in the 2014 overnight stop were blown away with the hospitality, reception and excitement from the people involved in the cruise, and the official finish that night at The Jacksonville Landing. It was one of those things that right then and there, we said we have to come back."

The agreement puts a financial commitment on the Main Street Cruise, including payment of a $25,000 partnership fee to the Great Race, looking for corporate sponsorships and organizing a hospitality party for 450 people.

Cruise founder John Wells said there's already been a good response with $20,000 in commitments and a color guard and national anthem singer.

"We are over the top about it," Wells said. …

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