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Home-field advantage pays off for Lockport men in Great Race

Richard McIntosh never thought his contributions to his father's auto parts business would turn him into a local celebrity. He inherited the business after his father died in 1999 and served as the CEO, president and co-owner of Mac's Antique Auto Parts until 2012, when he sold the company.

Cars had always been a part of McIntosh's life, since his father began collecting them in 1968 when he was 3 years old.  He remembers family trips to get ice cream in the antique cars. Now having four of his own, McIntosh says he never took as great a liking to cars as his father did, until after his dad died.

McIntosh's affinity for antique cars has only gotten stronger since he won the sportsman division in the 2018 Hemmings Motor News Great Race, placing ninth overall. The Lockport native and his team of drivers "never expected to win," he said, but they are thankful to have placed in the rankings the same year the race launched from Buffalo.

The Great Race route has always been a scenic one, dating to the fourth race in 1987 from Disney Land in Anaheim, Calif., to Disney World in Orland, Fla. That made the 2018 route from Buffalo to Nova Scotia too close to home for McIntosh and his driving partners Keith Wallace and Brent Powley to pass up.

The crew drove a 1930 Ford Speedster on the 2,300 mile journey, and experienced only one minor issue. The car's radiator hose sprung a leak as the team entered Canada. The car was saved by a fellow competitor who had a spare hose, as well as another who had a toolbox. The repairs were made within 15 minutes and they continued the race "without missing a beat," McIntosh said.

Richard McIntosh and Keith Wallace greet the crowd at Hailfax, Nova Scotia, just before the announcement of the sportsman division winner.

"We never went into this thinking we were going to win," he admitted.

McIntosh competed in the race five times prior to winning and didn't make it to the finish line two out of those five times. This year, he prioritized finishing over winning.

"I was nervous," he said. "I would've gotten out of the car myself and pushed it across the finish line."

That wasn't necessary, however, due to his team's preparation, including using their home-field advantage to master the twists and turns of downtown Buffalo in the 88-year-old car, which may have set them apart from their competitors.

"If you don't put in the preparation, you just won't feel confident," said McIntosh.

The three returned home to a slew of praise from fellow antique car enthusiasts. Feeling like local celebrities, the men reveled in their trophies, recognition and – more importantly – bragging rights.

"It felt good," said McIntosh, "I'm not used to people asking for my autograph."

After spending six years in college for something unrelated to cars and ending up in the family business, McIntosh is still grateful for how his life played out and being "fortunate and lucky enough to have a father who took his hobby and turned it into a niche business."

Even McIntosh's friend reveled in the victory for his partner.

"I'm glad we got to help Rick achieve his goal," said Wallace.

Thanks to their victory, the team was moved up to the expert division, which is where they hope to compete in 2020.

Great Race takes off from Buffalo, and vintage car lovers have 'blast and a half'

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