RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TN - Pitching in as an announcer for the vintage car cross country Great Race landed a new role for Sheriff’s School Resource Officer Sgt. Scott Culp assigned to Central Magnet School.
Announcer Jason White’s voice gave out during the 2022 race and Culp offered to help. Race Director Jeff Stumb agreed.
“Jeff disappears and I was stuck the rest of the night calling in 70 cars by myself,” Culp said as he laughed.
White and Culp shared announcing duties through the remainder of the race, prompting Stumb to enlist Culp to tag team as announcers when the race runs again from June 24 in St. Augustine, Fla., to July 2 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The Great Race is a cross county tour on backroads traveling in vintage cars through North America. The race is based not on speed but on endurance along with precise timing with the driver and navigator.
Culp and his wife, Jenny, a 6th grade world history teacher at Central, sponsor the Central Car Club at the school. They became involved with the Great Race with the Stones River AACA Student Group sponsored by the Stones River Antique Car Club. The club provided Bonnie, a 1953 Pontiac Chieftain to drive in the race. In turn, the students volunteer at the annual swap meet fundraiser to help pay expenses.
This will be the students’ fourth official Great Race. In three previous races, they came in second place in the first race and first place in the last two races in the X Cup Division for high school and college teams.
Central graduate Matt Norman will drive along with Car Club President Jeremy Byrd. Navigators will be Central students Shawn Gourley and Annie Holland, daughter of team mechanic Dean Holland, and Byrd’s son, Carson, a Siegel Middle School student. They will be No. 151, the last car to start the race.
They have been practicing regularly. Dean Holland has invested countless hours working on Bonnie.
Accompanying the team will be Holland’s wife, April, and Byrd’s wife, Misty, and daughter, Emma, who will follow along and care for the students.
Each team has 30 minutes before departure to study the map. Once the race starts, it’s up to the navigator to give up-to-date directions, speed and length. The speedometer can’t be used.
“It’s not about mileage, it’s about time and speed and endurance,” Culp explained.
Points are computed on random checkpoints. Based on the time competitors leave, the race directors know the exact time on the second when they should arrive at the random checkpoints. When a car passes the checkpoint, the time is sent to race coordinators who calculate how many seconds the team is ahead or behind.
“The goal is to be there at the second you are supposed to be,” Culp explained. “An ace is awarded for the perfect time.”
Crowds of car enthusiasts and fans greet teams at every stop where White and Culp will announce each competitor, causing the adrenaline to encourage the teams.
Jenny Culp will hand her husband and White the cue cards to announce as the competitors roll in to each site.
Drivers for the Great Race include Matt Norman, a Central Magnet School graduate, and President Jeremy Byrd of the sponsoring Stones River Antique Car Club. Navigators are Annie Holland and Sean Gurley of Central Magnet and Carson Byrd of Siegel Middle School.