The Great Race is slated to make an overnight stop on its nine-day race across the country on Friday, June 30, 2017. Each year, this national event takes its race through different states and cities across America. This year, the event begins in Jacksonville, Florida and ends in Traverse City, Michigan with one special night in Frankenmuth.
Race organizers were familiar with Frankenmuth as a car friendly destination and the big block party hosted by the Frankenmuth Autofest. “When they came to the Visitor Center to talk about bringing the race to Frankenmuth, having their finish line for that evening on Main Street was on the top of their wish list,” said Jamie Furbush, President/CEO of the Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We began working with the City, MDOT, the businesses impacted and race organizers to see how it could work,” Furbush added.
On Friday, June 30, Main Street (M-83) will close at 3:30pm from Cass to Covered Bridge Lane. There will be a truck detour that begins at Jefferson and Genesee. Large trucks will need to use the detour as most cannot make the turn at either Cass or Covered Bridge. Cass Street and Covered Bridge Lane will remain open to local and visitor traffic, keeping full access to all parking areas as well as an easy local detour for thru traffic. The Frankenmuth Police will be assisting with the closure and traffic management.
Race organizers will begin setting up their finish line which includes a large inflatable arch that will be positioned on Main Street just south of the cross walk between the Bavarian Inn and Zehnder’s. They will also stage an area along the edge of the street from which to have a short welcome ceremony before the first car comes across for the evening. This ceremony will include the presentation of colors by our local VFW, the National Anthem and other welcoming remarks. The ceremony will begin at 4:45pm as the first cars are expected to arrive shortly after 5pm.
The National Anthem will be played on the Glockenspiel via a keyboard just below the bell tower. The Glockenspiel is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year and recently underwent a renovation to add new technology to the traditional German clock tower that allows musicians to play the bells via a keyboard.
Nearly 150 cars will begin arriving shortly after 5pm and they will park on Main Street between Cass Street and the inflatable finish line. Many of the drivers also have a crew that will arrive in Frankenmuth earlier that day. Once a car finishes, it will park on Main Street so the driver and navigator can join their support crews to enjoy the sights and sounds of Frankenmuth. Furbush noted, “The race director told us it is a great family event and the teams love for people to come look at, touch and take pictures with the cars. These cars will be different from those we see at Autofest. They are used more for function not just for show.”
The road will remain closed until 9pm. Cars may begin heading back to their hotel between 8-8:30pm. Friday Fun Night entertainment will be happening that evening as well, making it a very festive night to be downtown. Everyone is invited to come watch the race finish for the night in downtown Frankenmuth. “If you are headed out of town for the holiday weekend, you might want to consider leaving Saturday morning because this will be a really fun way to celebrate a true Americana weekend,” Furbush noted.
According to the event’s website, The Great Race is an antique, vintage and collector car competitive controlled-speed endurance road rally on public highways. It is not a test of top speed. It is a test of driver/navigator team’s ability to follow precise course instructions and the car’s (and team’s) ability to endure on a cross-country trip. The course instructions require the competing teams to drive at or below the posted speed limits at all times.