Rollin’ on the river: Residents flock to greet antique carsPublished 12:01am Saturday, June 29, 2013
NATCHEZ — The 20th century roared back into Natchez Friday.
Classic racecars, built before 1969, made a pit stop on the Natchez bluff as a part of the 2,100-mile Hemmings Motor News Great Race.
The race began on June 22, in St. Paul Minn., following the Mississippi River through 10 states.
Spectators began lining North Broadway Street at noon in anticipation of catching a glimpse of the cars.
Navigator for Stone Age Racing Sawyer Stone and driver David Reeder were among the first cars to arrive in Natchez.
“It’s been a nice drive down here,” Stone said. “It’s actually a little bit cooler today than it was yesterday. It’s nice to let your hair blow in the wind, that cools things down.”
As he pulled into Natchez, Stone was fourth in the standings. The standings are determined by how closely drivers and their navigators follow instructions.
Navigators are given directions 30 minutes before departing from a destination. Directions often place teams on unfamiliar roads, Hagerty No. 1 navigator Tricia Felski said.
“Earlier we missed a turn and had to sort of make up our time,” Felski said. “This is the first time I have ever been on these roads.”
As the sun reached its peak in the sky, many spectators scurried for shade, but reemerged to cheer on Natchez native Bobby Hadskey.
Hadskey, navigator for the Rock-N-Roll team, jumped out of his car immediately after pulling into the parking lot to find family members waiting in the audience.
“We always cheer for Bobby,” his mother Maxine Hadskey said. “I’m glad the race made a stop here in Natchez.”
Hadskey was born in Natchez, but left in the second grade and currently lives in Germantown, Tenn. His car is a 1916 Hudson Indy Racer. Only two cars are older in the race — a 1913 Premier and 1915 Hudson Speedster.
But Hadskey isn’t a rookie racer.
Hadskey began the race in 1994. Ten years later, he won the race with his driver, G.R. Pike.
“It’s a game; this race is a hard game,” he said. “Even though it’s a competition, you make friendships. You might give a guy a part today, and he will beat you tomorrow.”
This is the first year in his time racing with a southern route, Hadskey said, but he didn’t think his team had a significant advantage.
“The only advantage I have is that I know there might be some kind of tractor on the road ahead,” Hadskey said.
Cars began leaving the bluffs at 1:30 p.m. with sights set on Baton Rouge. Racers will spend the night in there, before taking a detour through Crowley, La., and traveling along the coast to the finish line — Mobile, Ala.