Great Race to travel through Newnan

Published 10:14 pm Thursday, June 22, 2017

Former LaGrange resident Perry Swanson is off to the races in his 1930 Model A Ford this weekend.

Participating in the Great Race, he will face other vintage car competitors in a road rally that starts in Jacksonville, Florida and finishes in Traverse City, Michigan.

According to The Great Race’s website page, the race is about facing obstacles rather than speed. It starts on June 24 and will wrap up July 2.

The race is an antique, vintage and collector car competitive controlled-speed endurance road rally on public highways, according to The Great Race website. The race requires the teams to drive at or below the posted speed limits at all times.

“It’s the first time I felt like I could participate,” said Swanson, who now lives in Douglas, Georgia.

Swanson has been collecting parts for the car for years, and is excited to finally be able to join the race.

“A year ago, it was half finished,” he said. “When I found out about the race, I concentrated on finishing it in the last 12 months.”

Each driver in the race receives a set of course instructions that they must make throughout the day. There are usually 225 to 250 instructions per day, according to the website.

Only cars model year 1972 and older can enter. Older cars receive an age factor adjustment.

Along with winning the main race, prizes are also given to the newcomers.

“[I] have a good chance of winning the rookie class,” Swanson said.

According to Swanson’s son Nathan, his father was interested in cars since high school, and that passion has followed him into adulthood.

“He actually drove a Model A to high school,” Nathan Swanson said.

Swanson said his father reconstructs engines for a living.

“He rebuilds Model A and Model T engines,” he said.

Perry Swanson is a graduate of LaGrange High School and said he is dedicating the race to his classmates: the LaGrange High School class of 1970.

Nathan Swanson said he is supporting his father no matter the outcome of the race.

“Hopefully he can pull it out,” Nathan said. “I’ll be proud of him either way.”

The Great Race will stop for lunch in Newnan on Sunday before continuing north toward Armuchee, Ga.