By Mitch Katz
Montana offers endless open highways with 75 mph speed limits – surely the perfect place for a classic car rally. The 2007 Going to the Sun event, held September 1-6 also crossed over into spectacular Canadian territory for the first time, reinforcing its claim to be one of the best in the country.
Entrants enjoyed jaw-dropping scenery, smooth, winding spectacular roads and the company of extraordinary cars. In five days, I drove 1,300 miles from Helena, Montana, north through Banff National Park, and back, in the company of two 1957 Jaguar XKSS cars, a sherbet-green 1945 Delahaye 135 MS, and “Old Yaller #1,” the race car reportedly built from junkyard parts by Dick Morgensen in 1954.
The rally is limited to 35 to 40 cars, and included a 1973 Porsche 911, driven by racing legend George Follmer, the only professional driver from the United States to have competed in Indy Cars, NASCAR, Formula 1, the World Endurance Championship, Can Am, Trans Am, and IMSA.
“What a fun group,” Follmer said. “I got invited to join Going to the Sun as a ‘guest celebrity,’ but I quickly figured out that everybody knew what they were doing, and I was very impressed with Farnum Alston and his crew. We are certainly putting the event on our list of things to do next year.”
Co-founders Farnum Alston and Jim Sitton like to think of Going to the Sun rally as belonging to the drivers who enjoy it. “They have ownership in it,” the two said. In light of this, the 2007 Premier Financial Services Spirit of Discovery Award was given to two recipients: Sir John White, who flew in from England for the third year in a row to drive his 1963 MG B; and the Garth Norton Family, comprising Garth, his wife Jeanne, and son Rob, who brought their red 1962 Jaguar XKE.
One of the most important aspects of Going to the Sun is the money it raises for charities. This year, $98,000 was given to organizations such as the Montana Highway Patrol Fallen Officers Fund, the Madison Valley Hospital in Ennis, Montana, and The Clark Fork Coalition, dedicated to protecting and restoring the Clark Fork River basin.
If you own a vintage car and haven’t exercised it for a good cause at an event like the Going to the Sun Rally, you’re missing out. I hope to pass you when you’re dawdling along, enjoying the scenery next year.
For information look at www.goingtothesunrally.com.