GARDINER — Stanley and Dianna Paquette say they dream of competing one day in the Great Race. For now, however, they are OK with watching from near the finish line.

The Paquettes were among hundreds of people Sunday who traveled to Gardiner to watch 125 vintage or antique cars complete the 2024 Hemmings Motor News Great Race, which began in Kentucky.

The Paquettes have never traveled to a finish line of the Great Race, but as avid vintage car collectors, they try to find a stop yearly close to their home in Dracut, Massachusetts.

One day, they hope it will be them crossing the finish line with their 1965 Chevrolet Corvette, perhaps when Stanley Paquette retires, he said.

“It’s on the bucket list,” Dianna Paquette said.

Spectators watched the finish line Sunday afternoon as colorful vintage or antique cars with license plates from Maine to Washington completed the course to close the nine-day, 2,300-mile, timed rally.


Howard and Doug Sharp of Fairpoint, New York, took home the the $50,000 prize in their 1916 vehicle.

Gardiner’s Main Street was flooded with hundreds of people on both sides of the street to watch the antique vehicles cross the finish line of the Great Race. For the celebration, the shops on Gardiner’s Main Street opened their doors and several food trucks lined up along the Gardiner waterfront to make way for the travelers from across the country.

Neil Myerscough of Weeki Wachee, Fla., drives a 1934 Ford Indy Racer as Shanna Chatraw navigates at the finish Sunday at the 2024 Hemmings Motor News Great Race on Water Street in downtown Gardiner. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Peter Prescott, a Gardiner resident and avid antique car collector, is a long-time fan of the Great Race and tried for decades to get the course to run through Maine. He got race organizers to plan a stop in central Maine in 2018 on the way to the Novia Scotia finish line. When polled, participants said the central Maine stop was their favorite that year.

The race has a different route each year. This year the antique vehicles drove from the start in Kentucky, by way of Ohio, New York and the states in between to finish in Gardiner. The vehicles spent the weekend in Maine, hitting Freeport and Owls Head before Sunday’s run to the finish line.

It is not a race to get to the location fastest, but rather a competition for navigating the backroad routes and a test of the vehicle’s ability to make it across the country. Drivers are given a set of course instructions that indicates each move, turn and stop and along the way, with four to seven checkpoints that measure the speed in which the driver completes the 220 to 250 instructions per day.

The goal of the driver is to finish the instructions in the correct amount of time, not the fastest, and they are scored on their ability to complete the instructions precisely and in the correct amount of time.


Competitors arrive in vintage or antique cars Sunday at the finish of the 2024 Hemmings Motor News Great Race on Water Street in downtown Gardiner. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Mary Jane Horn and Michelle Roemer of Massachusetts drove the route the entire way in their own vehicle as their husbands competed in the Great Race. Their husbands have won the race in 2019 and Horn competed with her son in 2021 and came in second. This year, the husbands finished 30th.

The secret according to Horn? Being good at math.

“You have to be really good at math. They might say you have to drive to the ‘Stop sign’ at 30 miles per hour, then once you’re at the sign, drop your speed down to 17 miles per hour. Those cars do not have an analog clock or speedometer, so you have to know exactly where 18 or 12 is on the speedometer,” Horn, who drove a 1963 Ford Falcon convertible, said.

Pat Martin served as the navigator for her husband, Dan Martin, along the race’s route

In their sixth year competing, they traveled from New Braunfels, Texas, and placed 19th in their best year yet.

“He likes to drive, I like to navigate,” Pat Martin said after she and her husband crossed the finish line. “He likes to joke that I’ve been telling him where to go for 42 years.”

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