PARRY SOUND - The Great Race was a fantastic success, organizers say.
Race attracts future visitors: Chamber.
Participants of the Great Race parked at the Charles W. Stockey Centre last week.
Cody Storm Cooper/North Star
After more than a year of planning by the Parry Sound and Area Chamber of Commerce and its partner, Georgian Bay Country, the event had 91 antique and classic cars roll through Parry Sound on June 25.
The competitive race left Traverse City, Michigan on June 23. It was not a test of how fast participants can go, but how well each team of driver and navigator can follow precise course instructions. Drivers were required to drive at or below the posted speed limits at all times. The arrival time at each of the four to seven checkpoints a day were compared against a perfectly driven route, with each second off that time (either early or late) counted as penalty points. The winning team is the one with the lowest overall score at the end of the race.
Drivers and their navigator stopped in Parry Sound last week, their seventh checkpoint in the race, to have lunch and then were off to the next stop.
"Our buy-in was to provide a lunch for them, which the Parry Sound Area Chamber of Commerce did, in partnership with Georgian Bay Country Tourism Association," said Chamber chief executive officer Perry Harris. "The Great Race arrived on Monday, the chamber of commerce and the partners had to rent out the Charles W. Stockey Centre for the event. We sent a bit of a contest out to our restaurants, so the restaurants that provided the food were The Country Gourmet, The Mad Hatter and Sobeys. The food was absolutely fantastic. We had all the baked goods come from the Red Door Bakery and they went above and beyond by putting little Canadian flags on the pastries and desserts, and the beverages came in from Starbucks, which was great."
Harris said a number of racers remarked that they would love to return to the area for a vacation in the future.
"As the drivers and their navigators arrived we, of course, greeted them and they went and had lunch with us and the comments coming back from them was, 'fantastic food,' 'best food so far' on their seventh stop, 'gorgeous area,'" said Harris. "They don't get a chance to see a lot of the scenery, of course they're driving and navigating, but they were certainly overwhelmed by the theatre and our harbour, which was great. We provided each one with a gift bag, welcoming them to Parry Sound, as well as a Georgian Bay Country guide."
Additionally, about 500 members of the public came out to see the cars and chat with drivers.
Although they racers spent only a few hours in the area, Harris said the event was successful for drumming up future visitors.
"For us, it was a huge success, because what it provided for us is the opportunity to showcase our area to a market are that we're losing, which is the American market area for tourism," he said. “When we went into this we knew there was going to be a cost. Fortunately, we had a partner through the Community Business and Development Corporation (CBDC). They came forward with assistance towards the lunch and that really helped a great deal."