Daily Updates


Daily Updates from our fearless racers Bill and Carolyn Croker

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Updates from the Habitat race team on the road! The latest update is on top. Scroll down to see earlier updates.

FINAL RACE DAY #9 - Sunday, July 2, 2017 - FINAL RESULTS TOTAL ACES  = 5!! 
Congratulations to our amazing race team - Bill and Carolyn achieved 5 ACES in 9 days - Great Job Team Habitat!! Here is a word from our navigator: Carolyn. "As we head West for Penn Valley the 2017 Great Race Is "in the books", beginning in Jacksonville. FL, and finishing in Traverse City, MI. We drove 2200 miles in our 1936 Packard without any mechanical problems! There were 60 timed legs which included multiple stops and turns which all had to be performed perfectly according to the Rally Master's timing on those maneuvers. Team Habitat in car #70 managed to receive 5 ACES in those 60 legs. We had 12 scores of 1 second off a perfect leg and thirteen scores of 2 seconds.  We were pleasantly surprised when it was announced at the finishing that we had won 3rd place in our division (the Sportsman division) and 16th out of 120 cars overall.  

 It has been a tough rally this year with the competition greater than we remember in the 7 years we've been rallying.  But the weather this year has been the best: cool most of the way!  The reason we continue rallying with Great Race is the wonderful friends we've made over the years.We look forward to the 2018 Rally beginning in Buffalo, NY, and finishing in Halifax, Nova Scotia ... rallying around the Maritime Provinces of Canada where we use to live.  This is the final report from Team Habitat. It's been a great honor for us to represent Habitat for Humanity and spreading the importance of providing affordable housing."

Stay tuned for details on a Great Race party celebration on July 27th at 6pm, hosted by our generous sponsor: Byers. Thanks to Byers for all their support!

RACE DAY #8 - Saturday, July 1, 2017 - ONE ACE TODAY - TOTAL ACES SO FAR = 5!!   Earned another ACE today! We are leaving for Sault Saint Marie Early Sunday for a half day of rallying before finishing in Traverse City in the early afternoon. Thanks to all who have pledged and followed us these 8 days!! Stay tuned for details on a Great Race party celebration on July 27th at 6pm, hosted by our generous sponsor: Byers.Thanks to Byers for all their support!

RACE DAY #7 - Friday, June 30, 2017 - ONE ACE TODAY - TOTAL ACES SO FAR = 4!!  Bill:   Fatigue is setting in.  Lack of sleep, combined with the intensity of each day resulted in a couple of errors this morning. We missed a turn, measured our time to get back on course, then tried to make it up before the next checkpoint.  We did not get all of the time made up and ended with a score of 11 seconds on that leg. We ended up with a score of 20 seconds for the day. No more Aces today so the total remains at 4.  

Carolyn: When Bill teaches the Rookie class before the Great Race begins, he tells them that one way you tell who the husband and wife teams are is that they get out of the car at breaks and go their separate ways. In the 7 years Bill and I have been running the Great Race, we have never gone our separate ways getting to lunch.  Today was a First...and hopefully only time. There was a lot of silence in the car for about an hour this morning in addition to fine-dining lunch, in silence. It was a Navigator's mistake and we tried to make up the time lost but we weren't communicating well.  If we had come to a stop sign I might have given him the directions and vacated the car and thumbed my way home.  

Things picked up by the time we climbed back into the car after lunch. We were "back on track" and had a good afternoon.   We've seen the scores and we are now in 2nd place in the Sportsman division and 17th overall!  There is hope for us yet!  But our concentrated efforts are to get as many Aces for Habitat as possible and then if we win anything, that will be frosting on the cake. Tomorrow, Saturday, is the last full day and that rally day is usually a big challenge. However, this year the last three days  look more challenging as compared to other years. I can't imagine tomorrow being more difficult than what we've already experienced.  We were too grumpy to get any good photos from the road today, so you can see a shot from a previous race below. You can click on the Great Race logo below to see photos from other racers!

ACE DAY #6 - Thursday, June 29 2017 - NO ACE TODAY- TOTAL ACES SO FAR = 4!!  Our lunch stop brought us this great photo of an historic Shell service station in Michigan. Indiana Amish country started our day.  We encountered several Amish horse drawn buggies and saw several Amish farms.   More competition in the afternoon and we finished being greeted by a big crowd in Ypsilanti, Michigan for dinner. The competition course was fairly difficult today and we didn't help ourselves by making a rookie mistake on the very start of the day.  We partially recovered from the 2 minute mistake and got a 6 second score for that leg.  We had 8 timed legs today and our final score was 25 seconds with no additional Aces.  We stand at 4 Aces with 3 days to go.   We held our overall standing at 19th place, but have moved up to third in our Sportsman division!

RACE DAY #5 - Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - ONE ACE TODAY - TOTAL ACES SO FAR = 4!!  Bill: "Today we traveled through the corn fields of Indiana and Ohio ending up in Auburn, Indiana.  The route kept us VERY busy.  Our route instructions included 59 stop signs and many other instructions such as turns, and speed changes.  Each of these maneuvers must be timed and a correction must be made for each to stay on time.  We got one ACE out of seven timed legs today!"  Carolyn: "At the end of today our directions led us to this bridge.  I jumped out of the car to take this photo. It felt good to WALK the length of the bridge after sitting all day! Day Five ended with a visit to the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum.  My favorite, every time we visit this museum, is this gorgeous cream colored 1937 Cord Phaeton"

RACE DAY #4- Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - NO ACES TODAY, but a good day nonetheless! We were greeted in Franklin, Indiana at the finish line with this beautiful large sunflower.  The local communities are enthusiastic about the old cars. We hear many stories about "my grandfather's or dad's Packard" and the adventures they had in them. We had a pretty good day today, but no more ACES.  So our total stands at 3.   We placed 18th today and are now 19th overall.  We are in 4th place in our Sportsman Division.  Only 1.7 seconds separates us from 1st place Sportsman.  Winning Sportsman would mean another significant contribution to Habitat.  Just like life itself, this race offers a new opportunity every day to do well.  Tomorrow is another chance to earn ACES and move up in the standings.  The interesting thing about this race is that every evening we get an absolute score on our efforts for the day, down to a tenth of a second -  (click on these words to see all race scores).   A word from our navigator: Below, I am checking two of the three Rally instruments allowed in the car: the stop watch and an analog clock.  These are set each morning to the National Time Standard to the nearest second. The third instrument is the extremely accurate speedometer which we check each morning on our speedometer run before starting the timed rally.   A big THANK YOU to all of you who are supporting Habitat through this race.


RACE DAY #3 - Monday, June 26, 2017 - ONE ACE TODAY!!    We are happier "rallyers" at the end of today.  Sunday we were frustrated by one bad leg because we could not determine WHY or HOW we got the bad score.  Today's scores were better! We had one poor leg, but we know exactly what went wrong and had a valuable learning experience! The good news?  ONE MORE ACE!!! Three total for Habitat!  Every lunch time break and evening break the cars are brought into the community hosting Great Race.  An announcer talks about each car as it drives under the Great Race arch.  When we come in, Habitat for Humanity gets a huge plug every time. We are so glad to be a part of spreading the word about how important the Habitat mission is, and especially showcasing our local Nevada County Habitat!"  - Carolyn Croker (Team Navigator)

RACE DAY #2 - Sunday, June 25, 2017 - ONE ACE TODAY!!! "We were pleasantly surprised this evening, on completion of Day Two, that we earned another Ace!!  We had a rough day for us with scores that were not our best effort.  One leg was so frustrating to understand how the score was so bad for us.  The rest of the legs were ok.   The ACE helps the "attitude" and keeps us going, for sure. And tomorrow is a brand new day!  We'll end the day in Bowling Green, KY"Carolyn Croker    (Another gorgeous shot below of our hood ornament leading the way in Georgia!)


RALLY BEGINS!! DAY #1 - Saturday, June 24, 2017 -
Today's race results update is from our driver - Bill Croker: "Today started with a grand send off in Jacksonville, FL.  After all the opening ceremonies, the cars were flagged off in one minute intervals by Don Garlits (famous retired drag racing champion).  It takes two hours to get all 120 cars started at one minute intervals.  Then it was off to do our daily speedometer calibration check, a quick lunch and then the actual timing began.We had a problem right at the start when a rookie team started incorrectly on our minute and drove too slowly.  We eventually were able to pass him and "hack" off another car to get close to being on time.  Our score for that leg was 6 seconds.  The following legs were better with a 2, 1, 1, 5, and 1 second legs.
NO ACES TODAY but the three one second legs were very close -- almost as good as an ace. Our total score was 16 which placed us 31st out of 120 cars.  The winning car today had a score of two seconds with 4 aces!! We are in Tipton, GA, tonight.  It is very hot and humid with lots of bugs.  Tipton provided the best dinner we have ever had in seven years on the Great Race.  After making a small mechanical repair to the car, we are ready for a good rest before our first full day of competition tomorrow - Sunday - to Newnan, GA, for the lunch break and Chattanooga, TN, for the evening." Bill Croker


Pre-Race Update #5 - June 23, 2017  Carolyn Croker, Habitat team navigator, reports  on today's race activities and ACE #1 achievement:  "Haggerty Insurance  is the largest insurer of antique cars.  Traditionally they sponsor the 1/2 day rally after Rally School.  Bill is a mentor for all the rookies and he teaches at this Rally School.  After  class,  we get into our cars and do a 1/2 day of rallying! The instructions for the Trophy Run weren't particularly difficult but kept the us busy.  When we received our scores for the five checkpoints we were especially pleased:  a 1 second, two 2 seconds, a 3 second .... PLUS our first ACE!  We ended the day number 6  out of 120 teams!  So we felt very good about our performance, about the car's performance .... and Habitat is the winner! Tomorrow is the grand send off of all the cars in downtown Jacksonville.  The rally will take us to Tifton, GA for our first overnight on the route.  The car ran great today and we are looking forward to tomorrow".


Pre-Race Update #4 - June 22, 2017  Today new Great Race decals are going on the car and the car's technical inspection is complete. Bill & Carolyn are leading seminars for rookie teams, and participating on Friday in the Haggerty trophy run, a practice rally especially for rookies. Here is an interview with our race team:


Interview with Bill and Carolyn Croker about the Great Race 2017:  

Question: What “Drives” you to participate in the Great Race these past 7 years?
Answer: The excitement comes from be able to drive, navigate, and execute with precision. The race is a test of skill and focus for us, and a mechanical challenge for the Packard. In today’s distracted and overstimulated world, this is an opportunity to stay 100% in the moment and participate in the most intense team work. There is a spiritual bliss in that.

 Another great thing is the wonderful crowds that turn out in the towns across America to support Great Race.

Question: Is your approach to the Great Race going to  change from previous years?
Answer: Matching the exact time for each segment of the race is critical. This year we're trying a new technique in the way we measure the time lost in making turns so we can make up the time more accurately. We have also rebuilt the fuel system in the Packard to improve reliability.

Question: What are the biggest challenges you face during the race?
Answer: The killer thing is that when mistakes are made it is either the driver or the navigator – but it is a team error and we have to bring everything to bear to make corrections and get back on track. Who is right or wrong does not matter at this point. Our personal challenge is to improve each year. A big challenge every year is to finish without a mechanical breakdown.  

Question: Do you have any race rituals or superstitions?  
Answer: We all start the morning by calibrating our stop watch and dash clock to match the National Time Standard. This gets us focused in on the race day to come.

Question: Any major mishaps you can tell us about in previous races?
Answer: Last year on a long stretch from Eureka, Nevada to Elko, Nevada, a windshield wiper blew off and lodged by the windshield.  Carolyn held the steering wheel and watched the speedometer while I kept my foot on the gas to stay at the specified speed for that section of the rally.  I reached out the window to get the wiper but couldn’t grab it.  We had to do a complete "stop and go" which Carolyn measured on her stop watch.  We lost 15.4 seconds which we then made up and AMAZINGLY earned an ACE on that leg for a perfect score.

Question: Tells about Racing for Homes and raising funds for Habitat for Humanity.
Answer: We felt this was a great opportunity to raise awareness on the issue of affordable housing. The cost of housing everywhere is rising each year to the point that too many people cannot afford a decent place to live. If we can do something about that by supporting Habitat, and have fun while doing it – what better combination is there?


Pre-Race Update #3 - June 20, 2017  Team Habitat, Bill and Carolyn, are arriving today in Jacksonville, Florida after picking up their support team, (Lloyd and Hodgin), In Canada. The Hodgins have supported the Croker race team these past 7 years in their Great Race career! The moose is not coming along for the ride, but he wished them well

June 13 - Second update from the road!!
Team Habitat, Bill and Carolyn, are in Bar Harbor, Maine, on their way to Saint John, New Brunswick, to pick up the race Support Team, Lloyd and Linda Hodgin.  Then off to Jacksonville, FL, to start the Great Race on 24th of June. 


Update #1 - June 2, 2017 - We're in beautiful south central New York almost to Cooperstown. We're enjoying fine-dining at a rest stop! Looking forward to watching lots of 12 yr olds playing baseball this next week, particularly OUR 12 yr old grandson!!!