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Posted by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

In 1982, two car guys had an idea: an auto race across America, open only to pre-World War II vehicles, that would traverse some of the country’s coolest back country roads and offer a prize of $250,000 to the winner.

More than three decades ago, the Great Race is still going strong, drawing in participants and antique automobiles from around the country.
This year’s contest will begin with engines revving in Ogunquit, Maine. More than 2,100 miles later, the cars will glide to a halt in The Villages, Florida. Before reaching the sunshine state, however, the Great Race will pass right through our neck of the woods, making a special stop in Lowell, Massachusetts!
Lowell has a special day planned to welcome the race, with plenty of family fun on the docket. Here’s a look at what you can expect on the big day.
2013 Vintage car

Photo: One of the participating vehicles in the 2013 Great Race via Facebook

On, Saturday, June 21, the festivities will get underway at 4:45 p.m., with an opening ceremony at the beginning of Middle Street. The automobile route will cover the Lowell Connector, Dutton Street, Market Street and Middle Street, in that order. Fans are welcome to line the streets and take photos as the cars, which range in production date from 1914 to 1959, arrive; entry to the event is free.
The cars are scheduled to begin making their way into the area around 5:00 p.m., with 60-second intervals between each new arrival. The retro rides will stay parked on Middle Street until 8:00 p.m., giving spectators plenty of time to take a gander. The young (and the young-at-heart) are even allowed to climb into the cars, giving themselves a first-hand look at the rides!
2013 car at rest

Photo: A moment of rest for one of the 2013 Great Race vehicles via Facebook

While the chance to sit in vintage cars will no doubt be a big draw for more than a few families, the kid-friendly fun doesn’t stop there. There will be a nearby children’s area, which will feature antique fire trucks, as well as the chance to enjoy balloon animals, face painting and other activities. For a detailed list of what will be happening, click here.
1955 Ford Truck

Photo: 1955 Ford Fire Truck via Facebook

The organizing committee is expecting more than 7,500 people from New England to visit the area, so if you’re thinking about stopping by, it’s a good idea to book ahead. The North of Boston and Merrimack Valley area has a variety of comfy options when it comes to hotels, with the Coddington Guest House and the Courtyard Boston Lowell/Chelmsford putting visitors right in the area.
For local eats, there are plenty of choices, too. Centro, La Boniche and the Owl Diner are three of the standouts, and you can explore more here. The restaurants will also be celebrating the Great Race in their own way during the weekend, showing off photos from Lowell’s first car race, which took place all the way back in 1908!
You can find more information about events taking place in the Merrimack Valley here. To take a look at the events happening all around Massachusetts, click here.
What’s one event that you’ll be traveling to see this summer? Let us know in the comments!
Photo at the top courtesy of the Great Race on Facebook