Great American Race to motor through area

By Tony Gutierrez: Freedom Newspapers

Clovis stands to earn its third Great American City Award in a row, the first city to do so, as the Great American Race passes through town Monday.

After spending the night in Clovis, the racers will arrive in Portales 6 a.m. Tuesday for breakfast on their way to their next stop in Albuquerque.

The race is a two-week cross-country trek of classic cars from Concord, N.C., to Anaheim, Calif. Every community in which the racers stop has a theme. Clovis’ theme is a throwback to the “Clovis Sound” of the 1950s.

“It’s our 100th anniversary this year and we’re celebrating all things Clovis,” said event chairwoman Robyne Beaubien. “In doing this whole thing, we thought it would be fun to emphasize that part of our history.”

Clovis earned the award in 2002 for its “Great American Fiesta” theme.

According to a press release from the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce, racers and event staff vote on the award given to the host city based on hospitality, size and enthusiasm of the crowd, theme and decorations. Clovis has drawn between 8,000 and 10,000 people in previous years, according to Chamber officials.

Main Street will be closed between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. from Grand Avenue to Sixth Street. More than 70 local businesses and organizations are sponsoring the event. During the day, businesses will decorate their spots. The block party begins at 4 p.m. with music, vendors and games.

“Some will just have tables and chairs, others will be elaborate and others won’t decorate at all,” Beaubien said. “Businesses decide how to decorate their spot.”

The racers will be driving from an overnight stop in Abilene, Texas, on U.S. 60/84, and arriving at Main Street at about 6 p.m. The drivers will pass under an archway, where Clovis freshman cheerleaders and the Desert Cruzers will greet them. They will later be presented a bag with items donated from local businesses.

“We wanted them to know how we appreciate them putting Clovis on their list of stops,” said Greg Southard, owner of Leslie Candy Co.

“I’ve always been fascinated with the cars because it’s not just a matter of rebuilding an old car, but the cars have to perform. They’re not just driving four blocks in a parade, they’re actually taking them on the road.”

Southard’s company is donating giant peanut patties.