Classic cars to race across 3 countries


Roy Kidwell won't have to keep an eye on a sirloin steak sizzling on his barbecue grill this Independence Day.

Instead, the Chartwell resident will be watching a kitchen wall clock installed in a 1934 Dodge rumble seat coupe and helping to keep his race team on time.

Mr. Kidwell and five other Maryland residents will be participating in the Interstate Batteries Great North American Race, a road-rally-style contest for pre-World War II automobiles.

This year the course runs from Toronto to Mexico City.

The cars will make lunch and dinner stops in more than 40 towns as they roll down the East Coast, including a July 4 stop in Washington. Promoters say the stops make this race especially enjoyable for fans.

"If you go to NASCAR, you go to the track and you watch the cars whiz by," said Hugh Wilson, a spokesman for the race. "In the Great North American Race, the track is mainstream USA. You get to go up and touch a piece of history."

About 105 antique cars, all made before 1942 and all in floor-model condition with original parts, will leave the starting point one minute apart on Saturday, Canada's Independence Day.

The teams will travel 15 days and nearly 4,500 miles on local roads through Buffalo, N.Y., Havre de Grace, Md., Little Rock, Ark., and Dallas to reach their destination.

At 9 a.m. Tuesday, the cars will be on display on Maryland Avenue at the Mall in Washington.

"There are some cars in this race that are the only car in the world," said Mr. Wilson, adding that some are worth millions of dollars. "This is the biggest old car party this town has ever seen."

Among the cars in the race will be a 1932 Buick, a 1916 Hudson Speedster, a 1938 Talbot Lago, a 1941 Chevrolet sedan, and the 1938 Dodge coupe, for which Mr. Kidwell is the crew chief.

Three other team members join Mr. Kidwell and his wife, Pat, to make up the Dodge Em's, one of two Maryland teams in the race. Bill Thomas, Mrs. Kidwell's brother from Hollywood, Md., owns the brown and tan dream machine they hope will bring them a $50,000 grand prize.

"It's an extended family affair for us," Mr. Kidwell said.

This is the fourth time Mr. Kidwell's team has competed in the race, and they have never won any prizes. But Mr. Kidwell says he's still a winner.

"We finish every race and if you believe to finish is to win, then we won every time," he said.

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