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By Craig Braack

The Great Race is a hit at Alfred State College (video and photo gallery)

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Automotive students at Alfred State College have received national recognition for working the pits at NASCAR and on some of the latest innovative vehicles made today.

However, one thing they have done for five years behind the scenes earned the college an official stop during the 2022 Hemmings Motor News Great Race.

With classic cars from 1916 to the muscle cars of the 70’s driving from Rhode Island to North Dakota (the 2022 route), things are going to go wrong. Not only does Alfred State College have a team of five driving a vehicle, they do what it takes to help the other 130 vehicles competing for $160,000 in prize money.

“The reason this event has a stop in Wellsville at Alfred State in 2022 is, each Great Race, our Alfred State College automotive students at every stop repair the other classic vehicles, even if it’s through the night,” said Michael Ronan, who has been an instructor for 37 years at the Alfred State College School of Applied Technologies Automotive Department. “This is the Great Race folks’ way to say thank you and make a stop here at Alfred State in Wellsville. I can’t say enough how much this means to me, my family and the thousands of students I’ve had over the past four decades for them to stop in the finest county in New York state.”

For new Alfred State College President Dr. Steven Mauro, this was his first chance to see the race up close. With students home for the summer, the quiet campus in Wellsville was electric on Monday with the 130 Great Race cars and hundreds of classic cars on display from the public. There was music, souvenirs and the Alfred State ACE’s food truck serving up barbecue brisket, fries and cold drinks during the picture-perfect day.

“I think this is out-of-the-box phenomenal, it’s like nothing I have seen before,” Mauro said. “The energy, the cars, the teamwork, the camaraderie, it’s just something that is great and we here at Alfred State are proud to be a part of this.

“We have played a role in the past, our students, racing in the event and helping fix the other cars along the way,” Mauro continued. “But this is also community outreach as we are able to showcase local classic cars while hosting a national event. Our staff is living the profession they teach … I can’t say enough about our faculty and staff.”

Video of the classic cars at Alfred State and interviews. Video by John Anderson.

Ronan added, “This race gives Alfred State College a national exposure that is very difficult to find any other way for an automotive department. It’s a life-changing experience for our students. A team of five gets to go across the country.”

The Great Race is not vehicles drag racing, rather they have to hit certain times and they are scored on the route at secret locations that time how close they come to perfection. Drivers came into the campus different ways. With the classic cars coming to the campus, there were cars all over the village of Wellsville, from Main Street to the side roads. The crowd at Alfred State cheered as each car came in. Around town, residents were sitting outside in lawn chairs watching the vehicles roll by.

Great Race Director Jeff Stumb said he is excited to have the Great Race back after the pandemic.

“It makes us happy to see the old cars on the back roads and the historic highways of America,” Stumb said. “And we hope it makes you happy, too. 

“We are all brothers and sisters in this collector vehicle hobby, whether you like the 1916 Hudsons or 1972 GTOs,” Stumb continued. “This hobby offers a lot of fun thanks to friendship, experiences and the simple joy of sliding behind the wheel of an old car or truck. The Great Race is the ultimate bonding experience for car people of all ages.”

Stumb also said the national sponsors keep the race going. He said The Hemmings Motor News Great Race is presented by Hagerty Drivers Club. 

Photo gallery by John Anderson:

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