Maine Boyz II in The Great Race 2023

Episode 430

July 16, 2023

Maine Boyz II

Maine Boyz II navigator Philip Reinhardt left and driver Charles Harris display the medals won during the trophy run before the actual race began. (Mechanical Arts photo)

The story of Great Race 2023 as told by Philip Reinhardt, owner of Mechanical Arts restoration shop in Tenants Harbor, Maine. He went along as the riding navigator/mechanic on the 1931 Reo Royale owned by John Harris, South Bristol, Maine and driven by John’s son Charles of Damariscotta.

You will note the reference to the team as Maine Boyz II. Peter Prescott, Gardiner, Maine inspired the Harris entry and Prescott drove Maine Boyz I, a 1948 Ford Sedan, which finished just ahead of Maine Boyz II.  Two other Maine based teams entered this year’s event.

The Story

“Couldn’t be happier with the performance of ourselves, and the performance of the car today in the Trophy Run! Scored an “Ace” (perfect segment, off by zero segments) today, and couldn’t be happier with the rest of our scores: a one, a couple twos, and a six. Looking forward to start heading west tomorrow!”

Friday June 23rd the Maine Boyz II team won the warm-up race in the Sportsman Division. After a phone conversation with owner John Harris, he felt the team could have won the overall Sportsman class without the two Did Not Finish (DNF) experienced in the next few days. (Mechanical Arts photo)

June 24

“Left St. Augustine this morning and arrived in Tifton Georgia this evening! Got three aces and an overall score of 6.44. Placed 15th overall out of 124 cars, and 4th in our class! Time to give the car a checkup and some love, and keep on trucking to Alabama tomorrow!”

June 25

After running in 90-degree high humidity, the Maine Boyz II team actually welcomed running in the rain. Note this is not a convertible. (Photo courtesy The Great race)

June 26

“It was definitely a comeback day for us! After our big overheating issues yesterday, we couldn’t be happier with how the car performed today. We made it to Memphis Tennessee drama free. With our fixes she ran as cool as a cucumber, and Charles and I were able to focus on our jobs as driver and navigator. We finished off the day with another ace, and scored 13.69 seconds. Back to 24th overall, and 7th in class!”

Driver Charles Harris with the 1931 Reo Royale in Tifton, Georgia at the end of day one. Note the lobster on the radiator. Little did the team realize the significance of the lobster which would be boiled in the near future. (Mechanical Arts photo)

June 27 & 28

“Yesterday and today, we roared across Arkansas and rolled into Joplin Missouri tonight! The car is performing well, and handled the “Disrespectful Heat” (as the local news put it) quit well! We added another Ace to the side of the car for a perfect segment today, but lost a lot of time in the Ozarks today where she slowed down a lot more than we accounted for in our performance charts. Currently sitting at 29th overall, 10th in class!”

In Joplin, Missouri with side covers up to aid cooling. Joplin was hit by one of the most powerful tornados in history in 2011. Joplin is actually located in two counties, Jasper and Newton. Known as the “Town That Jack Built” when zinc was discovered during the Civil War. Jack is the nickname for zinc. Joplin is also the hometown of NASCAR winner Jamie McMurray. (Mechanical Arts photo)

June 29

“Yesterday was a tough one. On the way from Joplin, Missouri to Wichita, Kansas in the 103-degree heat, the Reo developed a crack in the upper tank of its 92-year-old radiator. Luckily, we couldn’t have broken down in a better place.”

The 92-year-old radiator developed some leaks when put to the pressure on the road in mid-American heat. This began the story which inspires. (Mechanical Arts photo)

“Thankfully I still have some friends in Kansas from when I attended McPherson College, and we mobilized everyone we could to help make the repair. We towed the Reo to the air-conditioned garage of David Marshall, a member of the Reo club who is friends with the owner. There, one of my old professors, Luke Chennell of Midnight Coil Repair, and a former classmate Nick Lechner, brought the materials, tools and manpower to help us pull the radiator, solder the crack and reassemble it. In addition to that we repacked the water pump, and replaced a cracked brake line fitting.”

“This was the first time since we set out from St. Augustine that the car didn’t move under its own power. Today we are bound for Garden City, Kansas, and it is forecasted to be a little cooler, and we are ready to hit the road once again.”

The radiator repair team consisting of right to left Nick Lechner, Philip Reinhardt, John Harris, Charles Harris, and David Marshall  at David’s air-conditioned garage. Their work allowed the Maine Boyz II team to continue the Great Race 2023. Amazing what connections with others can sometimes yield good results. (Mechanical Arts photo)

June 30

“All the repairs we made yesterday held up beautifully today. No radiator and coolant leaks, and the car ran beautifully. We finished 6 out of 7 segments, and earned another ace! However, the last segment of the day was another sustained high-speed run, in 97-degree heat, and she slowly started to build up heat.”
“To avoid any damage to the engine, we had to shut down when she started overheating, so we had to forfeit that segment. We came into Garden City, Kansas on a trailer. Tomorrow with the cooler weather we hope to reach Pueblo, Colorado under our own power!”
“Currently 43 out of 117 cars, and 14th in class.”

July 1st

“Made it to Pueblo Colorado! Thankfully much less drama than in previous days, and we managed to keep the car just cool enough to finish with decent scores! Now 36th overall, 10th in class!”

Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado provide a great backdrop for the finish of the Great Race, 2023. (Mechanical Arts photo)

“Last day of the rally tomorrow July 2nd.”

July 3rd

“After driving a 92-year-old open car 2300 miles in 9 days, I’m finally back in Maine safe and sound. The Great Race 2023 is in the books. What an adventure! Even after 4 segments with DNFs due to overheating, we still placed 32nd overall out of 124 cars, and 11th in Sportsman class out of 64 cars.”
“Charles’ driving was on point, and during the whole 2300 miles we never missed a turn. We have a laundry list of improvements to make to the car for next year, when the finish line will be in Gardiner Maine.”
“Looking forward to getting back to work and getting some customer’s cars back on the road.”
Driver Charles Harris, Damariscotta, Maine commented about Philip’s abilities saying, “You did amazing navigating!!! Car ran like a Swiss watch anytime we weren’t well over 100 degrees and we were forced to run at high speeds for long durations.”
“Your ignition upgrades and multi carb set up not only made for more power but the smoothness even at altitude made my driving much easier. Can’t wait for next year to go for the win rolling into Gardiner Maine.”
The owner of the 1931 Reo, John Harris, South Bristol, Maine, plans to enter the 2024 edition of the Great Race which will begin in Kentucky and end at Peter Prescott’s place in Gardiner, Maine. Before then Harris plans to be in Presque Isle for the Antique Auto Club of America event August 16-19, 2023.
Let’s go racing,
Tom Hale
Soli Deo Gloria (Matthew 5:16)
Tom Hale

About Tom Hale

Tom wrote 14 years as freelancer for the Bangor Daily Sports covering motorsports in Maine. Now blogging and concentrating on human interest stories about people and places in racing. He races Champ Karts and owns HTF Motorsports in remote Westmanland, Maine