At 9:00 a.m. on September 8, 2013, 39 vintage sports cars, including Corvettes, Jaguars, Ferraris, Porsches, and a Shelby or two, were released into their natural habitat to do what they do best—cavort over the lightly traveled open roads through the majestic mountains of Montana, Idaho, Washington, and British Columbia. The occasion was the ninth annual Going To The Sun Rally and the cars, as well as the rallyists, spent the next five days wearing perpetual grins. If this sounds like your idea of a great time, read on and we’ll let you know how you can be part of it.
Going To The Sun Rally
We’ve all seen those videos of rally cars flying over unpaved roads, getting airborne over bumps and generally spending a majority of the time going sideways at high speeds. This is not vintage car rallying. The Going To The Sun Rally is run only on paved public roads at speeds not exceeding the posted speed limits, the emphasis being on enjoying your car, the scenery and the roads. The rally organizers work closely with the Montana Highway Patrol to insure that common sense prevails throughout the rally.
The Going To The Sun Rally usually runs a different route each year to keep the rally fresh and interesting for returning participants. The theme for 2013 was “Cuvées to Curves” and, for the first time, the rally traveled to the Napa of the North, the Lake Okanagan Wine Valley of British Columbia. The rally began and ended in Whitefish, Montana and covered 1159 miles in five days.
Tenth Anniversary Rally in 2014
2014 marks the 10th anniversary of the rally and to celebrate, the route will be similar to that of the first Going To The Sun Rally. The “Yellowstone to Glacier” rally will begin on September 3 and end on September 8 in Bozeman, Montana, and feature overnight stops near Yellowstone National Park, Missoula, Montana, near Glacier National Park, and Helena, Montana.
The route will include the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road, the only road spanning Glacier National Park from east to west, and the first road to be designated both a National Historic Landmark and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. The 50-mile, paved two-lane highway, named for Going-to-the-Sun Mountain, which dominates the view beyond Logan Pass, features some of the best sights in northwest Montana.
Corvette – Ideal vintage rally car
The Going To The Sun Rally is open to all vintage cars built in 1973 or earlier, but, and we admit to a certain fiberglass bias here, a Corvette may be the ideal vintage rally car. They have enough power to march up the steepest mountains, 1965 and later ‘Vettes have disc brakes to get you safely down the other side, and they are reasonably comfortable for driving long distances. The Going To The Sun Rally covers over 1,000 miles in five days and the Corvette’s virtually bullet-proof reliability will keep you on the road and having a good time.
The rally has mechanics following the route to attend to your car should it break down. Again, Corvettes have the advantage if any parts are needed to get you back on the road. Regardless of where you are, somewhere nearby there is likely to be a generic auto parts store that will have most of the parts needed to fix a Chevrolet – don’t try that with your vintage Ferrari.
What Keeps Rallyists Coming Back?
The Going To The Sun Rally has acquired a place in the hearts of experienced rallyists that keeps them coming back, many participating every year. They attribute the friendliness of the organizers, the fantastic scenery, the small number of cars, and the interaction with their fellow rallyists as factors putting this rally at the top of their “must-do” list.
Don Kaitz and his wife Barbara of Paradise Valley, Arizona have participated in 33 rallies since 1992 including all of The Going To The Sun rallies. Don says of The Going To The Sun Rally, “It is small enough (kept to 40 cars maximum) so that everyone has a chance to meet and spend time with everyone else. The people who run the event make sure they meet and get to know everyone on a personal basis. We feel as though we are part of a family that meets every year right after Labor Day. We have made some very close friends on the GTTSR and actually plan on buying property in Montana for the summer months. It’s our favorite car event.”
Nick and Kathy Blackman of Darien, Conn. certainly qualify as experienced rallyists, having completed 30 since 1998. When asked why they keep coming back, Nick answered, “This will be the 10th year coming up for GTTSR. I have done all but one, and it is worth the trip. We keep coming back for the roads, different routes every year, spectacular scenery of course, and a very nice group of people. It’s like old home week every year. “
Ron and Deborah Rader of Los Angeles, Calif. are not only experienced rallyists, having participated in 30 rallies since 2002, but they have also organized three multi-state rallies. Their reasons for coming back every year, says Ron are, “Always nice people, size (30 to 40 cars), and the great Montana scenery.”
Rally Proceeds Go To Charity
Each year, proceeds of The Going To The Sun Rally are donated to worthy Montana organizations that provide meaningful benefit to the communities visited by the rally. To date, over $400,000 has been donated to the communities that make Montana a special place.
Application for 2014
Don’t be left out this fall. The number of openings for the 2014, 10th anniversary Going To The Sun Rally are strictly limited to 40 cars and it’s never too early to send in your application. If you have any questions about any aspect of the rally, the logistics or what you should bring please go to the rally website, or contact the organizers.
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©November 2013 by Bruce Troxell