Great Race cools wheels in Gardnerville for lunch break |

Great Race cools wheels in Gardnerville for lunch break

by Sarah Hauck

For one Carson Valley resident the Great Race making its appearance in Gardnerville during the 2016 event will be old news.

Having raced in the event as a navigator, promotions chair Steve Bergan is excited to be able to share an event that made an impact on his life, with the rest of the area.

Heritage Park will play host as the lunch stop June 19 for the 120 racers.

“This is near the 30th anniversary of when I did it,” Bergan said. “It is pretty special. My daughter was three when I did the race and now her daughter is 3. That is kind of neat stuff.”

The Town of Gardnerville and Main Street Gardnerville will team up to host the event, with the help of sponsors like the Carson Valley Visitors Authority.

Being selected by the Great Race committee as a stop of any kind during the nine-day event is a big deal Bergan said.

“The Great Race is built around small town America, and Gardnerville is really perfectly positioned to be featured as small town or Middle America,” he said. “The director liked the feeling of our small town and the potential turn out.”

The Gardnerville-based groups have taken the lunch stop and turned it into an entire day’s worth of events.

Aligning with both Father’s Day and national Take a Kid to a Car Show Day, Heritage Park Classic Car Show will start at 9 a.m. that day to ensure the park is packed when the racers start arriving.

“Having the event the same weekend as these two special days means different things to different people, I think,” Bergan said. “To me it means that the Great Race organization thinks highly enough of Main Street Gardnerville that they are bringing their event to our town.”

The focus of the race is not necessarily speed, but accuracy and stamina, Pre World War II cars being the desired entrants.

The era sensitivity of the event plays well into Main Street Gardnerville’s function as well as the Spirit of Americana theme Bergan said.

“The Great Race coming here shows the value of Main Street Gardnerville,” he said. “Our mission is the historical preservation of downtown Gardnerville. This is a wonderful opportunity to put our best foot forward and put historic Gardnerville in the spotlight.”

Vendors will be available for those that venture into Heritage Park to view the more than 50 cars on display prior to the racers arriving.

Being a stop on the Great Race comes with many requirements, something all participating organizations have not taken lightly and jumped in with two feet to complete.

As part of those requirements, The Overland has stepped in to provide the lunch for 250-275 people.

“We have to provide a color guard so the American Legion will be posting the colors,” Bergan said. “Olivia Swearingen will be singing the national anthem and Boy Scout Troop 33 will be presenting awards during the car show portion of the event as well as some other special duties.”

The Great Race runs across the United States annually and requires drivers and navigators to follow a detailed list of instructions per day Bergan said.

This year’s race begins in San Rafael, Calif. and ends Moline, Ill. Racers compete for over $150,000 in prize money.

Bergan hopes to draw people out to the event to not only view the car show, but to also welcome the racers at the gate set up at Gilman Avenue.

Even if cars aren’t a person’s thing, being a part of a national event is exciting and could mean a return trip for the Great Race in the future.

“It is going to be fun, you can come to this event and don’t have to enjoy old cars,” he said. “The whole day is going to be something you normally don’t see. I think that is what is attractive about the whole thing. This is one of our bigger, if not biggest event that Main Street Gardnerville has put on.”

The event will begin at 9 a.m. with the Heritage Park Classic Car Show, and run until 4 p.m.

More information is at