Revival of 1950s Great American Mountain Rallye to challenge drivers and cars retracing historic 800-mile route
ELDRED, N.Y. — Automotive rally teams from the northeastern U.S. and beyond will gather October 11–14, 2018, to challenge their cars and themselves in an 800-mile Revival of the Great American Mountain Rallye [GAMR], a European-style endurance event that was held annually from 1953-1957 in upstate N.Y. and New England.
Driver-and-navigator teams competing in the GAMR Revival will gather on Thursday, October 11, 2018, at Churchill Classic Cars, Eldred, N.Y., for orientation/inspection. Teams will receive authentic 1953 Mobilgas maps and written instructions about which portions of the original 1100-mile GAMR route to follow. The next morning, drivers will start their engines and navigators will guide them northward through Vt. to the Canadian border; southward to N.H.; and then back over the Vt. border to the finish line. Rally officials will throw the checkered flag on Sunday, October 14, 2018, at Hemmings Motor News in Bennington, Vt.
“This is a very special event that will celebrate the way rallies used to be,” said Rally Chairman Steve McKelvie. “Although it’s not a typical rally, the Sports Car Club of America [SCCA] has sanctioned the event as a New England Regional Rally.”
The original GAMR, described in April 1956 by Auto Age as “America’s longest, toughest, and coldest rallye,” was the first U.S. rally listed by Federation Internationale de l’Automobile [FIA.] It attracted local amateurs, top drivers from American car clubs, automotive factory teams, and driving celebrities.
The Rootes Motors team in 1953 and 1954 entered top British driver Sheila van Damm. In 1954, Formula 1 [F1] racer Stirling Moss competed. In 1956, F1 Champion Juan Manuel Fangio served as official starter, throwing the green flag; and Monte Carlo Rally winner Maurice Gatsonides was a contender. Cars included both foreign and domestic, such as the Buick Century, Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Crestliner, English Ford Anglia, Jaguar XK140, Lincoln Capri, MG TF and Magnette, Porsche 356 Speedster, Renault 4CV, Saab 93, Sunbeam Alpine, and Triumph TR3.
Prior to starting the Revival on October 12, this year’s teams will receive route instructions in a written narrative and original 1953 Mobilgas Maps of Southern and Northern New England: identical to those of 60-odd years ago. Only roads appearing on these maps will be included. All teams will be restricted to equipment similar to that used in original GAMRs:
· Rally odometers with up to 2 distance displays are permitted; rally computers providing average speed information are not allowed, except for Halda Speedpilots.
· Mechanical calculators and slide rules are permitted; electronic calculators are not.
· Paper speed tables are permitted; electronic speed tables are not.
· Clocks and stopwatches are permitted without restriction.
· GPS mapping assists are not permitted.
At the 2018 finish line, 1st, 2nd and 3rd places will be awarded in 3 classes:
· Original: Cars that could have competed in 1950s GAMRs (model year 1957 or older)
· Classic: Cars of model years 1958-1980
· Modern: Cars of model years 1981 or newer
Gary Hamilton, a land surveyor, of Ipswich, Mass., and Steve McKelvie, a civil engineer, of Franklin, Mass., collaborated to re-create the 2018 GAMR Revival as authentically as possible. Original rules required entrants to use written instructions and 1953 Mobilgas Maps.
Armed with the above information—as well as Google Earth© and Garmin Basecamp© software—Hamilton developed the route into a map. The original GAMR rallies were modeled on Europe’s grueling classic rallies, and Hamilton and McKelvie continued with this approach:
“Why go to Europe when you can do a European-style rally here?” asks McKelvie.
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