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A rare stop for Great Race; For first time in 25 years, nine-day trek around lakes will lead antique cars here

The Great Race the annual antique automobile competition -- is coming to Buffalo for the first time in 25 years, with a stop at the Buffalo Transportation/Pierce-Arrow Museum.

As they motor thousands of miles in nine days around the Great Lakes, 92 vintage race cars -- including one from Buffalo -- will make a stop at the museum to help celebrate the city's automotive history.

The race begins Saturday in Traverse City, Mich., and ends July 1 in Dearborn, Mich. The overnight layover in Buffalo is scheduled for June 28 and marks the first event to be held in the museum's new atrium addition.

James T. Sandoro, owner of the museum, announced a schedule of race-related events in Buffalo, which will continue through June 30. The activities will bring out-of-towners to the city, selling out the Adam's Mark Hotel for that time period, Sandoro said.

"This is the type of event we want here," he added.

The winner of the original Great Race 1908, from New York to Paris -- a Buffalo-built Thomas Flyer driven by Buffalonian George Schuster -- will be on display.

Jeff Mahl said that it took Schuster, his great-grandfather, 169 days -- from Feb. 12 to July 30 -- to complete the 22,000-mile trek. Also in the race were three competitors from France, one from Germany and one from Italy.

"Only three made it to Paris, my great-grandfather, the German and the Italian," Mahl said.

The Thomas Flyer was built in a Niagara Street factory, the site of the current Rich Products.

For the Great Race 2012, the car from Buffalo is a 1930 Ford Speedster 33 sponsored by MAC's Antique Auto Parts in Lockport. Three men will take turns driving.

"Each leg is about 400 to 500 miles," said Brent Powley, of Lockport, who will drive the second leg, from Barrie, Ont., to Buffalo.

Another Lockport resident, Keith Wallace, will handle the first leg of the trip from Traverse City, Mich., to Barrie. Doug Stolzenberg, of Burt, will finish the race from Buffalo to Dearborn, Mich.

Rich McIntosh, co-owner of MAC's, will serve as navigator, seated next to the driver.

The newest car in this year's race is a 1969 Jaguar, Wallace said. The oldest is a 1911 Hudson.

Great Race 2012 events include:

*Outdoor prerace show at 4:30 p.m. June 28. Beginning at 5 p.m., the first of 92 race cars arrive at the site, followed by another car each minute for the next hour and a half.

*A race car exhibit and a presentation by Mahl about his great-grandfather at 6 p.m. June 29.

*Outdoor car show beginning at 11 a.m. June 30.

*Race car exhibit from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 1.

*Outdoor displays are free, rain or shine. Museum admission applies for indoor displays.

For a full list of local events, additional information and costs, visit www.pierce-arrow.com or call 853-0084. For more information on the race, visit www.greatrace.com.

email: dswilliams@buffnews.com