It's a Charleston Harbor-side venue that showcases 20th century history, attracts its share of seniors and oversees acres of parking.
Those attributes helped Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum secure the stopping point for 120 or so Great Race motorists two weeks from now. Drivers and navigators will be pulling into Mount Pleasant the afternoon of June 27, guiding vehicles dating from 1915 to 1972 in what will be the third-to-last layover in the Eastern Seaboard rally.
"We are always excited to have groups like this coming through," said Chris Hauff, public information officer at Patriots Point. "It's another outlet to show the museum. It puts people in the parking lot," he said.
The Mount Pleasant-based visitor attraction will host 80 local classic, vintage and antique models including Model A Fords from the late 1920s and early '30s for an afternoon show leading up to the Great Race arrival.
The rally drivers, who leave downtown Ogunquit, Maine, at 10 a.m. June 21 heading south on a zigzag, 2,100 mile course to central Florida, will be trickling into East Cooper around rush hour after stopping for lunch in Myrtle Beach. The motorists will head out early June 28 for their next late morning stop in Savannah. The race wraps up at 3 p.m. June 29 in The Villages residential community between Ocala and Orlando.
Hauff said the Great Race likely chose Patriots Point as one of the 10 stopovers on the trip for a few reasons. "I think they were looking for a large parking area," considering 123 cars are registered for the rally. "They (race officials) know a lot of car enthusiasts enjoy Patriots Point," he said.
Jeff Stumb, the race director, toured all the stopping points in April. His blog post cited Patriots Point and the USS Yorktown.
"The aircraft carrier helped win World War II and has been on display in Charleston Harbor since 1975. Several special events are planned for the racers that night, including dinner on the hanger deck of the ship overlooking Charleston. Longtime racer Dennis Barfield met us and a large committee on the ship, and he was able to share stories of his time as a crewman on the Yorktown in the early 1960s," Stumb said.
According to the list of participants on the Great Race website, Barfield of Goose Creek and Howard Streets of Charleston will be taking part in the race. Streets will be driver and Barfield will be navigator of a 1916 Studebaker Racer. Another local team includes Jim Boggs of Charleston as driver and David Boggs of Summerville as navigator in a 1929 Ford Roadster PU (pickup).
The Great Race, which dates to the early 1980s, each year takes a novel route cross-country or north and south through the U.S. - and at least once to Mexico and Canada. Cars technically don't race against each other or the clock; instead they try each day to negotiate a specific course by following a map and meeting checkpoints at pre-set times.
According to a Patriots Point flier, the local vintage car show starts at 2 p.m. while racers arrive around 4:30 p.m. People can "view Great Race cars from 1972 and earlier, plus local antique cars." The event is free, although parking rates apply. Hauff said parking is $5.
According to the museum, "guests are welcome to arrive early and tour Patriots Point." They can see three historic naval vessels, 28 aircraft, Vietnam Naval Support Base Camp and the Medal of Honor Museum by buying a museum admission ticket. Meanwhile, there will be food for purchase and a cash bar provided by Sticky Fingers.
Sponsors of the stopover consist of the Hemmings Motor News Great Race, Sticky Fingers Smokehouse and the town of Mount Pleasant.
For more information, visit www.greatrace.com.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Great Race participants will stop June 27 at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant, dining onboard the USS Yorktown that night (Provided).×
The Leslie Special, the car driven by Tony Curtis in the 1965 hit movie The Great Race, will be traveling with the Great Race 2014, courtesy of owner Ted Stahl (Provided).×