On Sunday, June 11, some of the oldest cars in the county will line up between Fourth and Fifth streets in Hollister for a historic automobile double event—an Endurance Run with speedster race cars, and a Lowland Tour. All the vehicles lining up were originally built sometime between 1908 and 1927. This tour, organized by the Santa Clara Valley Model T Ford Club (SCVMTFC), and hosted by Tiffany Ford in Hollister, is the 48th annual event.
Around 8:15 a.m. on Sunday morning, the vintage race cars will line up and the National Anthem will play. A cry will go up, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” When the green flag drops, the cars, some 100 years old, will take off into the countryside. For video from the start of the 2009 event in San Jose, click here.
Most of the participating cars will be similar to the original Model T built by Henry Ford. Historically, the original endurance runs were organized to generate publicity and excitement about automobiles, and to prove that they were tough enough for everyday use. Glenn Wildman, chairman of the event, says that there used to be “a tremendous amount of doubt in some corners of the public” about automobiles. The original races were used to prove that a person could head “into town to go to church on a Sunday morning, and didn’t have to take an hour with a horse and buggy… you could jump in your automobile and be there in 15 minutes.”
While original races were timed events, the 100-mile endurance tour is structured more like a rally. Wildman says, “It’s a timed event, but it’s who gets closest to the time that’s been predetermined by the committee laying out the route.” That means that the winner isn’t always “the fastest one in. Sometimes it’s the slowest one in.”
In the days leading up to the event, the route will be established and tested using a speedster model car. On the day of the race, the driver with a finishing time closest to the one that has been predetermined will get the trophy. That same day, other vintage vehicles not considered speedster models can participate in the Lowland Tour, also hosted by SCVMTFC. The tour is a more casual drive that celebrates the tradition of leisurely driving.
Both the Endurance Run and the Lowland Tour are hosted by Tiffany Ford in Hollister, which also hit a milestone in recent years. The dealership celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010, which also makes it the oldest Ford dealership in California, and the fifth oldest dealership in the United States.
As someone who grew up in his family’s automobile business, Bob Tiffany, dealership owner, says this event reminds him of a simpler time. It also reminds him just how important the automobile is to United States history. “It’s amazing that after all these years, more than 100 years, these cars are still running,” he said. “They are much simpler than what we all drive these days, but on the other hand there’s a lot fewer things that can go wrong. The Model T is an amazingly resilient vehicle.”
Spectators are welcomed and encouraged at the start of the race in Hollister, where all the automobiles will be lined up for the start of the event. Those interested in participating may also want to sign up for the Warm Up Tour happening on Saturday. For that event, cars will cruise down to the Mission at San Juan Bautista. A full schedule of the weekend’s events and more information, such as speedster build guidelines, is available online.