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Cars rollin‘ to bluff for quick pit stop

NATCHEZ — A variety of antique cars manufactured as early as 1916 will be on display at noon on the bluff today — but not for long.

Drivers in the Hemmings Motor News Great Race will stop for a quick lunch break on North Broadway Street on their way to Mobile, Ala. — the final destination of their cross-country race.

The race, which started in St. Paul, Minn., on June 22, is intended to test the driver’s ability to follow precise course instructions and the car’s ability to endure a cross-country trip.

Drivers are given instructions each day that detail each move down to the second, and they are scored at check points along the way. Drivers are penalized one second for each second either early or late. The lowest score wins the race. Winners of the race will receive $50,000 of the $150,000 total purse, based on 100 entries.

Only cars built prior to 1969 are eligible for the race, and those expected to be making a pit stop in Natchez today include a 1913 Premier and a 1916 Hudson Indy car.

Last year, a 1907 Renault and a 1914 Ford Model T were the two oldest vehicles.

The 100 antique automobiles are expected to arrive after noon at one-minute intervals for more than an hour and a half and stay for an hour each to allow spectators to visit with the participants and to look at the cars.

“They’ll get checked in and hang out for a while, but then they’ll be gone,” said Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau media liaison Sally Durkin, who helped organize the plans. “It is a race after all.”

After leaving Natchez, the cars will head south to Baton Rouge for the seventh of nine overnight stops.

The event was first started in 1983 by Tom McRae and is named after the 1965 movie, “The Great Race.”

This year’s race will take drivers through 10 states and cross the Mississippi River a dozen times before the finish in Mobile, Ala. on June 30.