By Eugenia Jones
It was a beautiful weekend for Kentucky’s first official NASA Rally Sport gravel road rally-hosted right here in McCreary County. With race team drivers, navigators, and volunteers coming from across the nation, including states from as far away as Alaska, Washington, Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York, and Illinois, the event proved successful with local residents and race rally enthusiasts joining together for an evening of music, food, conversation, and fun at Friday night’s parc expose/local car show.
Saturday’s road rally event consisted of ten timed stages (races) on the backroads of McCreary County in the Fidelity, Little Rock Creek, and Cowhorn sections of the county. Winners in various divisions were announced during an outdoor presentation in downtown Stearns with Patrick Gruszka and Aris Mantopoulos driving away with the big win of best overall time. Adhering to a long-time racing tradition, racers and winners ended Saturday night’s celebration by popping corks on bottles of champagne and spraying each other with the bubbly.
Throughout the weekend, rally enthusiasts made their way around McCreary County making purchases at local gas stations and dining out at local restaurants. One local motel manager enthusiastically greeted guests who booked all of the motel’s rooms for an entire weekend, with some guests even arriving for check-in on Thursday. A second motel noted they had a few rooms booked by overflow visitors.
Organizers are already planning an even bigger and better McrearyGravelRally (MGR) for next year.
“We are already doing recap meetings to consider how everything went this year and begin planning for next year,” one of the lead organizers, Bernie Obry, said. “We plan to get back to the county as soon as possible to get on the calendar for next year.”
Obry said racers in the rally world are already recognizing and asking about the MGR.
“Everything went well beyond our wildest dreams,” Obry remarked enthusiastically. “Every aspect was positive including the responses we got from the local community, racing community, and amateur radio community. The people in McCreary County were awesome!”
Obry said everyone deserves a big “thank you” for the success of Kentucky’s first official gravel rally. He extended special thanks to Erik Hubbard and Backroads of Appalachia, NASA Rally Sport, Lake Cumberland and Big South Fork Radio Clubs, Fairbridge Inn staff, Ryan West and the Whistle Stop Restaurant, McCreary County EMS, Fire, Road, and Sheriff Departments, McCreary County Fiscal Court, McCreary County Tourism, Tony Kidd, Hall’s Towing, Haltech, race volunteers, Matt Earl, and others.
If the success of this year’s MGR event is any indication, a new tradition in McCreary County has just begun!