The Great American Car Rally of 1979 - Part 4 - Highlights and Heartbreaks: Pivotal Moments of the Rally

Dramatic and memorable moments: close finishes, unexpected breakdowns, and acts of sportsmanship. Exploring how different vehicles fared in various stages of the rally. Key locations and how they impacted the rally's dynamics.

By Amani Schimmel
Nov 20, 2023
15 Minutes
The Great American Car Rally of 1979 - Part 4 - Highlights and Heartbreaks: Pivotal Moments of the Rally

As the Great American Car Rally of 1979 progressed, the intensity and drama only heightened. This part of our series focuses on the pivotal moments that defined the heart of the rally, showcasing both the highs and lows experienced by the participants.

Dramatic Highs

One of the most exhilarating moments occurred in the Rockies, where Jack McAllister's '69 Charger and Sarah Chen's 280Z found themselves neck-and-neck in a high-altitude chase. The contrast between the classic muscle and modern tech represented the evolving face of American autos. In an incredible display of skill and machinery, they danced through the mountain roads, leaving onlookers in awe.

Unexpected Setbacks

Not all stories on the road were of triumph. A sudden rainstorm in the Midwest tested the drivers' abilities to handle adverse conditions. The O'Neills' Mustang, while a crowd favorite, struggled with traction, leading to a tense few hours of careful navigation. Their perseverance, however, only added to their growing legend within the rally.

Acts of Sportsmanship

The rally was also marked by acts of incredible sportsmanship. Carlos Rivera's Javelin, after overcoming early issues, came to the aid of a competitor whose vehicle had succumbed to engine trouble. This act of kindness, amidst the heat of competition, highlighted the rally's underlying spirit of camaraderie and mutual respect.

The Diverse Landscape of America

As the participants journeyed across the country, the rally offered a panoramic view of America's diverse landscapes. Each stage brought its own character and challenges, from the arid beauty of the Southwest deserts to the lush greenery of the Southeast. This geographical diversity not only tested the versatility of the cars but also added a scenic grandeur to the rally.

Close Finishes and Heartbreaking Moments

The rally was not without its heartbreaking moments. A close finish in one of the stages saw a lesser-known entrant lose by mere seconds due to a navigational error. Despite the disappointment, it was moments like these that captured the true essence of the rally - a blend of skill, luck, and sheer determination.