SIDNEY – Area car enthusiasts will have the chance to see classic vehicles from 32 states and Canada when the Freedom Road Rally makes stops in Sidney, June 9 and June 23.
The rally’s event coordinator, Scott Dorsey, and tour logistics manager, Anna Remsberg, both of Sidney, have led tours for 20 years throughout the Midwest, south and eastern United States, but this is the first one to include a visit to their hometown.
The rallies unite owners of historic cars by inviting them to follow an itinerary over six days, stopping at museums, auto collections, and historic sites along the way.
From 50 to 75 drivers from as far away as Washington state will convene in Columbus to begin this year’s events. The Sidney visits will take place on the last days of each tour. While drivers visit the Shelby County Historical Society’s Ross Historical Center and Wallace Family Learning and Innovation Center. their cars will be parked in historical society lots near 201 N. Main Ave. On June 9, area residents can view the cars from about 9 a.m. to noon. On June 23, the cars will be in town from about 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We pride ourselves on peeking behind the curtain (at sites and attractions),” Dorsey said. “We get in behind the velvet ropes.”
According to the event website, “Our goal is to recreate the adventure of the classic American road trip. In this spirit, we don’t reveal every detail of the tour. Our participants enjoy the possibility of a surprise around the next corner.” The Ohio rally will travel from Columbus through east central Ohio, then move north along Lake Erie before turning south through the west central areas of the state.
Drivers are given their directions each morning, but not all sites are surprises. Some have been announced:
“In Columbus, we’ll see the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Then we go to a private collection in Circleville, then to Cambridge, then to Holmes County and Amish country. We’ll see the MAPS Air Museum in North Canton and the National Packard Museum in Warren, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, the Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky,” said Dorsey.
The group will continue to Bowling Green for another private collection, to New Bremen’s Bicycle Museum and the Airstream Museum in Jackson Center before stopping in Sidney. The rally will then end in Urbana at yet another private collection of autos.
Cars must predate 1974 to participate in the rally. All kinds of cars show up, Dorsey said. One of the most unusual will be a Czechoslovakian Tatra.
“There are only 14 of them in the United States. They were built through the Cold War years, built like airplanes,” Dorsey said. “The people are as fascinating as the cars are.” He noted that one driver, who has driven in 19 of the 27 rallies, is 90 years old.
Another driver, David Studebaker, a retired manufacturing manager from Huber Heights, will make his 13th trip with his wife, Doris, this year.
“Part of the fun of the road rally is to exercise your old cars and go to places you might not have gone. And you develop some nice friendships, there’s a nice cross-section of people,” Studebaker said. “The other nice thing is that Scott and Anna make the plans. We don’t have to make the plans or find the places.”
Studebaker also appreciates that road rally staff accompany the tours and provide a pickup truck and a car-hauling trailer to assist a driver if his car breaks down en route.
“Someone’s there to look out for you,” he said. “You’re always taking off with your fingers crossed when you go by yourself.”
Dorsey founded the Freedom Road Rally on a “crazy idea that worked out,” he said.
“My father had a friend in Georgia that talked about going from Georgia to California in a Model A coupe with five people, two in the front, two in the back, and the little one on the shelf. My father said when he retired, he’d build a car, and we would go.” Dorsey’s dad died before that could happen, but he left his son all the parts to build a Model A of his own. Dorsey and his teenage sons completed the Model A roadster pickup and, in 2000, made the trip from Georgia to California. A year later, Dorsey and a few fellow car enthusiasts did a “rally” trip that Dorsey designed.
That journey was such a success, that in 2004, Dorsey founded the Freedom Road Rally, began to advertise in car magazines, and sold the second trip.
“We started with three cars and 11 people, and last year, we had 130 cars and 270 people (in two trips),” he said. An event staff of eight and year-round staff of two keep the rallies going.
For information about participating in a future rally, visit freedomroadrally.com.