National race driving through Hannibal - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

National race driving through Hannibal

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HANNIBAL, Mo. (WGEM) -

Hannibal finds itself in the middle of a national race that runs from St. Paul, Minnesota to Mobile, Alabama.  It's the first time Hannibal has hosted a stop on the Great Race, which is bringing people in from all over the country. 

One by one, dozens of classic cars made their way to the overnight checkpoint in downtown Hannibal.  Monday, marked the third day of the nine day race. Drivers travel more than 2,100 miles and say it gets competitive.

Curtis Gref has driven in every Great Race since it first started in 1983...and while he's enjoyed driving across America, he says it's not a sightseeing adventure.
"The amount of concentration is pretty in depth.  I mean you can't stop and smell the flowers, you can't look at the farmers," Gref said.  
Around 100 cars passed through the Hannibal checkpoint Monday, but it's not about who crosses the finish line first.  The goal is to arrive at the exact time you're scheduled.  Great Race Director Jeff Stumb said there's a lot of strategy involved. 
"For every second early or late they're penalized one second. So if you're ten seconds early you get a ten second penalty, if you're 7 seconds late, you get a 7 second penalty.  The idea is get their exactly at the right second and get a zero," he said. 
All the cars in the Great Race have to be made before 1970, and there are some that are almost 100 years old.  These owners take this race seriously.  They have been working on cars for months and some have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars getting cars ready.
Hannibal is the second smallest city to ever host an overnight stay in this race.  Tourism Director Gail Bryant says this took several months worth of planning but it's a big benefit to the city.
"We have visitors coming in from all over and then they're going to stay and spend the time tomorrow and follow the race on but it's a golden opportunity," Bryant said. 

Drivers are competing for a top prize of $50,000.  They leave Hannibal around 8 tomorrow morning, and the next overnight checkpoint is in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. 

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