The experiences David Prueitt said he'll remember most of his trip from Maine to Florida in a classic convertible car are the ones that didn't go as planned.
"Some of the most memorable ones were when we were messing up," Prueitt said.
Prueitt, 61, of Glen Rock, and Maryland resident Daniel Jobe were partners in the nine-day, 2,200-mile Great Race road rally from June 21 until June 29. The rally is for people driving cars manufactured in 1972 or earlier.
Prueitt and Jobe easily qualified on that front: The men rode in a 1946 Cadillac Series 62 convertible for the trek, a vehicle Prueitt rebuilt for the journey.
Rally: The road rally isn't a high-speed contest. Instead, teams receive points on how closely they follow directions and are able to stay on pace for the trip, which often avoids large highways.
The team had a steep learning curve at the beginning of the race, Prueitt said, because neither man had participated in the event before.
Jobe owns the Cadillac, and was the driver for the entire nine days. Prueitt was the navigator and had to follow the directions given — without a GPS.
On the first day of the competition after starting in Ogunquit, Maine, the pair missed their first turn and drove 10 miles in the wrong direction, Prueitt said.
Speeding isn't encouraged in the rally, because if teams follow directions, they're generally able to reach their destinations driving the speed limit. But in cases like wrong turns, "then there might be a little bit of fast driving," Prueitt said.
Prueitt and Jobe got back on track and were 25 places behind where they should have been. They only made up a few spots before their first checkpoint of the day, where points are assessed.
Placed third: But additional days on the road allowed the team to rebound — they ended up arriving at The Villages, Fla., and placing 32nd out of 98 finishers — good enough for third place in the rookie class.
"We were really pleased," Prueitt said.
Part of that success is probably because the team didn't encounter any major car problems on the trip, Prueitt said. He rebuilt "everything that turned" in preparation for the contest, replacing brakes, pumps and bearings, plus the transmission.
Future team: Restoring classic cars is also how the team met. Pruiett said he's worked on several cars for Jobe's Capitol Cadillac business in Greenbelt, Md., over the past 20 years.
And though driving along the Atlantic Coast for much of the trip was a treat, the two didn't feel the wind in their hair.
With no air conditioning in the car and temperatures as high as 100 degrees some days, Prueitt said the pair opted to keep the roof on.
"We wanted the shade," Prueitt said. "It was too hot."
Pruiett said the cost of the trip is a bit of a prohibitive factor: The entrance fee alone was $6,500, not to mention gas, lodging and meals. But even with that in mind, the pair is talking about entering the 2015 Great Race, to be held on Route 66 from Missouri to California.
— Reach Nikelle Snader at firstname.lastname@example.org.