car in particular tells the story of the Great Race.
The bright yellow 1920s Model T race car sits in the
first row at the end of the line. Earlier this year, Kirk and Rita Hill of Simpson County drove it in the nine-day, 2,300 mile Great Race from Minnesota to Mobile, Ala.
“It’s what they would have raced on a dirt track in
the 1920s and 1930s,” Kirk Hill said.
He said he’s been “fooling with antique cars for
In the race this past July, he drove and his wife
Rita navigated. “It was a stressful race because Rita had to keep us on course
and on time. … Her job was much more stressful than mine,” Kirk Hill said.
This is the second year the Model T has been part of
the State Fair show. Last year, Hill said, they displayed the car at the fair when they found out they were going to be part of the Great Race. That was before one of their sons was killed in a cycling accident. Hill said they were devastated and, even though they had already paid to participate, initially decided not to compete.
After a while, they changed their minds and decided
to compete with renewed purpose.
“Rita said we’re going to do it in the honor of
Eric,” Kirk Hill said. They also decided to name their racing team “Share the Road” after the organization that encourages drivers to share the roadways with cyclists and motorcyclists.
“We believe in sharing the road with bicycles,
motorcyclists and antique cars,” he said.
Hill said their car surprised many at the race because, despite the Model T’s reputation, “we never broke down.”
They finished 49th out of 99 cars. Hill said even
though that doesn’t sound too impressive, when you consider that the first 17 cars were people who’ve won the race before, it’s not too shabby.
He said their time was nine minutes and 40 seconds
away from a perfect score of zero.
The Hills are members of the Antique Vehicle Club of
Mississippi. The 69-year-old club has been an exhibitor at the State Fair for 33 years.
Club leader George Raworth said they are a Christian
club with members who are enthusiastic about cars. They raise money for the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital.
The club is selling raffle tickets at the fair and
holding a people’s choice competition for the crowd’s favorite car. Raworth said each year they raise between $3,000 and $4,000 to donate to the hospital.
“We just love these old cars, and we like restoring
them and keeping them original,” Raworth said.