ALFRED — Last year, a team of five Alfred State students and one professor covered more than 2,300 miles in nine days in a 1953 Dodge Power Wagon tow truck for the 2015 Great Race.
This year, while the college is planning to enter the Power Wagon again, it has also partnered with a family from Illinois to enter a historic vehicle in the race, a 1928 Model A Speedster. Automotive Trades Professor Mike Ronan will again be the faculty adviser for the student team.
The annual Great Race will take place from June 18-26, running from San Rafael, Calif., to Moline, Ill. About 120 classic cars from around the country and the world will compete for a top prize of $50,000 in the timed event.
One of those cars, the Speedster, competed from 1998 to 2003. What makes this vehicle different, according to Ronan, is that it has always been an “X-Cup” car, meaning it was entered by student teams. The vehicle was loaned this year to the Alfred State X-Cup team, and preparations have already begun to breathe new life to the classic car.
Ronan said the Speedster was originally restored by Ken Lumberry of DeLong, Ill., whose family had approached the organizers of the Great Race to help find a school team that would enter the car in the 2016 event. The Great Race ends within miles of DeLong, the current home of the Speedster.
“This car has tremendous significance to those involved in the antique auto hobby,” noted Ronan. “Mr. Lumberry was a pioneer in the effort to help young enthusiasts participate in a project that they would remember for the rest of their life.”
Ronan explained that although the Alfred State automotive students are more comfortable with computer diagnostics than with carburetors, they are excited about anything to do with cars. Alfred State has its own chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA), and chapter members will make up the team that will pilot the Speedster across the country on the historic Lincoln Highway.
The Power Wagon team includes Nick Reale, autobody repair, Jamestown; Ryan Valle, motorsports technology, New Windsor; and James Leach, heavy equipment: truck and diesel technician, Dansville. Those driving and navigating the Speedster will be Stephen Krolak, heavy equipment: truck and diesel technician, Palmyra; Nick Shelp, automotive service technician, Endicott; and Kyle Hayes, automotive service technician, Buffalo.
The AACA students are raising their own funds for the trip. For information on donating, visit http://www.alfredstate.edu/make-a-gift/giving-opportunities-at-alfred-state#great-race.
Recently, the AACA announced its 2016 X-Cup Grant Awards and the Power Wagon Team was awarded a $1,000 debit card, while the Speedster team received the 2016 Reliable Carriers complimentary transportation of their vehicle to the starting point in San Rafael, Calif., and return to campus from Moline, Ill. The car will return to DeLong at the conclusion of The Great Race, hopefully to be entered again by another X-Cup team in 2017.