Great Race Team

By Bobby Patterson
Contributing Writer
Clay Center Dispatch.

Last Wednesday, participants in The 2006 Great Race came to Clay Center to see one of their sponsors, Fifth Avenue Antique Auto Parts, owned by Randy Rundle.


The entrants are current and former students of three Lawrence area high school auto mechanics classes and their instructors. They are the only X-Cup (ages 18-24) team to enter from the state of Kansas.


The Great Race is a national vintage car rally race for street legal vintage cars. Beginning June 24th and ending 14 days later on July 8th, it will run approximately 4,100 miles across the United States, beginning in Philadelphia, Pa., and ending in San Rafael, Calif.


Kansas X-Cup Great Race Team Visits Fifth AvenueThe X-Cup division of the Great Race was developed specifically for high school students studying automotive repair to help give them a "leg up" on a career in the automotive industry. The prize in the X-Cup division is a $10,000 scholarship.


Because the motto is "To Finish is to Win," Dick Burdick, International Commissioner for Boy Scouts and CEO of Rally Partners (and a 22-year veteran of the Great Race) said, "The X-Cup Program is an opportunity for young adults to participate in a rally-type motor sport that teaches a combination of math, geography, safe driving and perseverance."


"This is the only racing environment in which entrants compete hard during the day, but pitch in after hours to help out other participants with tools, spare parts and even labor!" Rundle said, "And because of that, it also gives these kids first-hand experience of the true camaraderie in this unique race."


The students get to share the exact same opportunity and conditions in the race as the adult teams, many of whom have unlimited monetary supplies. This team is the only X-Cup team with both student drivers and navigators; all the others normally carry an instructor in one of those positions.


David Bailey, instructor from Free State High School (in Lawrence), is in charge of the drivers and navigators, and the information and expertise they have to develop.


The day's driving instructions are given to the driving teams 20 minutes before they are to set out. These instructions are very specific, detailing every stop, turn and speed change made to the finish that night, and are accurate to within one second.


Racers may use only a wristwatch (not digital), an analog clock, a speedometer (the odometers are disabled) and pencil and paper (no calculators allowed) to emulate the 'perfect' previously established time and distance, taking into consideration their car's time to accelerate, come to a stop, etc.


"We are generally started in the middle of the pack on any given race day," said Ted Crady, Lawrence High School auto mechanics instructor.


"The students are on their own through each phase of the day's run; the support teams are routed on other roads."


To enter the race, all cars have to be at least 45 years old and can have only the equipment that could have been bought on the original car, with the exception of the charging systems (alternator), the cooling systems and the fuel.


That's where Rundle comes in. In his garage in the late 80's, with the help of friend Rod Keen, he developed a 6-volt alternator for vintage cars. With the success of the alternator, Rundle went on to develop a 6-volt electric cooling fan, a 6-volt gear-driven electric fuel pump and other products that enable a vintage car to endure the Great Race's grueling, all-day drives without melting down.


Rundle not only sponsors the Kansas high school team and an adult team racing a 1911 Velie, but his equipment is also installed on many of the 100 competing vintage cars.


"It's great to sponsor this Kansas kids' team because the students get so excited about it," Rundle said. "During the race they have to do all their own work if they have any problems - troubleshoot it themselves, and figure out how to fix it themselves. During the 14 days of the race, they generally become the best of friends or the worst of enemies!"


A specially engineered alternator from Fifth Avenue is shown installed on the 57 Chevy and is among the many specialized parts and technical advice provided to the Kansas team by Fifth Avenue...


"The Great Race allows for ten X-Cup teams," said David Tenpenny, Oskaloosa High School instructor, "seven from the United States, and so far, one from England and one from Ireland.


"We've participated in it for the last two years, coming in third each year. However," he said, grinning, "the first year we were in it, we got the 'Spirit of the Race Award' which is given to the team that best personifies the go-the-extra-mile spirit. It is coveted by every race entry, and we were both the first rookie team and the first X-Cup entry ever to receive it!"


"We bought this car from a retired school principal in Ft. Smith at a swap meet a month before our first race," Bailey said, "and ran her in the original condition that year. We named her 'Jenny.'"


"Then last year, between the first and second race," Tenpenny continued, "we took her to Laramie, Wyoming, to Wyo-tech (Wyoming Technical Institute), which is one of the finest post-secondary auto schools in the nation, and the students there repainted her the original 'Canyon Coral and Polar White,' and completely rehabbed her interior." (They ran out of time, however, so the headliner is still original.)


Ted Crady, who teaches auto mechanics at Lawrence High School, is responsible for "Jenny's" health and welfare, and keeping her running for the entire 4,100 mile race.


This may be "Jenny's" last year, however, because the team has purchased a 1931 Essex (with a 1933 engine) to rebuild for next year's race.


The team has five or six sponsors including Rundle, the two school districts in which the three high schools are located, and their club, "The Lawrence Regional Antique Auto Club of America."


It has cost them about $13,000 each year they've competed. Tenpenny has the job of rounding up the funds, and also for getting together the support team upon whom so much depends.


This student team from the Lawrence area has also volunteered to work for the Kansas Department of Transportation this year during the race, promoting seat belt use and safety to the teens in the crowds that will await them each day at the end of their run. It's estimated that the students will have spoken to over 300,000 people by the end of the 14 days.


The closest stop to Clay Center during the race will be on June 30th when the racers will overnight in Wichita where the teams and their cars will all be on display.

The Great Race
The Great Race (L-R): Standing:Ted Crady, David Bailey, Randy Rundle, David Tenpenny; Lakin Tenpenny, Travis Smith, and Lindsay Cubbage Seated: Chris Berger (main driver) and Ryan Spencer. Not pictured: Mike Reynolds, Justin Fox, and Tyler Leonard.
Specially engineered alternator from Fifth Avenue
A specially engineered alternator from Fifth Avenue is shown installed on the 57 Chevy and is among the many specialized parts and technical advice provided to the Kansas team by Fifth Avenue...


Fifth Avenue Facts

Randy designed and built the first 6-volt alternator in 1987. Up to that point there was no such thing as a 6-volt alternator, only modern 12-volt alternators were available.