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Gearing up for Great Race

Gearing up for Great Race

Once again, Alfred State College (ASC) is revving up for the thrilling annual classic car competition known as “The Great Race.”

This year’s race will be even “greater” than in the past for the school, however, as Alfred State will not only compete, but it will also see one Pioneer alum follow in some very important and historic tracks laid out by his great-grandfather.

The 2018 route will begin in Buffalo on June 23, continuing up through the Northeast, and ultimately ending in Halifax, Nova Scotia July 1. The event is an antique, vintage, and collector car competitive controlled-speed endurance rally that tests teams’ abilities to follow precise course instructions and their vehicle’s ability to endure on a 2,000-plus-mile trip.

As it has in the past, Alfred State will once again be entering its 1953 Dodge Power Wagon tow truck in the X-Cup Division, which is designed for high school and college teams. The ASC team will consist of Liam DeChick, motorsports technology, Syracuse; Jacob Derk, heavy equipment, truck and diesel technician, Cattaraugus; Jordan Dunning, heavy equipment, truck and diesel technician, Cicero; and Donald Piatek III, motorsports technology, Springville.

To help with the costs associated with participating in the race, the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) awarded several schools competing in the X-Cup division with grant awards in the amount of $1,000. Alfred State was among the recipients.

Alfred State alumni and friends are encouraged to come out and cheer on their fellow Pioneers as they make their way along the route, and even beforehand during stops in Niagara Falls June 21, at Chef’s Restaurant in Buffalo for dinner June 22, and at the send-off from the Buffalo Pierce Arrow Museum June 23. Learn more details on Great Race events presented the Office of Alumni Relations.

While the Great Race competitors will be making their way north from Buffalo, another group will be heading west, with the ultimate goal of finishing at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Starting at the home of FDR in Hyde Park, NY on June 20 prior to traveling to Buffalo, this group, featuring Alfred State alum Jeff Mahl, will be retracing the route of the 1908 Great Race, a 13,000-plus-mile adventure covering three continents. The US leg will finish in San Francisco on July 5, with the Asia-European legs set for 2019.

The original 1908 Great Race from New York City to Paris featured teams from Italy, France, Germany, and the United States, the latter of which was represented by none other than George Schuster, Mahl’s great-grandfather. The race, which began Feb. 12 of that year, drew international interest and was extensively covered by the New York Times.

After a grueling 169 days of facing unpaved and unplowed roads, unreliable maps, and little food, and even crossing the Pacific Ocean by ship, Schuster and his Thomas Flyer arrived in Paris on July 30, 1908 to win the New York to Paris Great Race for the United States. Fast forward to the 2018 event, when Mahl will be following in the footsteps (or tracks, rather) of his great-grandfather. For more information, visit

ASC Automotive Trades Professor Mike Ronan, who will serve as the adviser to the Alfred State team heading for Nova Scotia, said, “Alfred State is excited to once again be competing in The Great Race, and the added bonus of seeing Jeff Mahl retrace the route his great-grandfather took 110 years ago is something that is truly amazing and adds an extra special component for our school this year.”

President Sullivan with students next to truck

L-r at Frankenmuth, MI during the 2017 Great Race are 2017 motorsports technology grad Nick Shelp, of Endicott ; DeChick; President Dr. Skip Sullivan; and 2017 automotive service technician grad Nicholas Guarino, of Alexander.