Skys are big in Montana and the impossible sometimes happens. Recently, while touring in the eastern part of the state, I was astounded to see a pack of ancient Model T's dashing madly down the highway. I fell in behind and watched as some fell back and others struggled valiantly to hold their position. After watching them for some time - racing along at top speed - I passed and went on to the little town of Terry. On the street there were TV Cameras and about half of the population of the surrounding countryside. They were waiting for the famous "Montana 500 Model T Cross Country Race".
The Race (really an endurance contest) was organized in 1961 by Mr. Ed Towe, a banker from Circle, Montana, and a group of local people interested in old cars. Each year the race is run over a different route of approximately 500 miles, with cars starting at one minute intervals. They go a pre-determined number of miles each day over a three day period. When I stumbled upon them they had already completed 475 miles over a course starting at Miles City, going through Baker, on to Glendive, North of Sidney and Plentywood - then West to Scoby and back South through Wolfpoint, Circle, Glendive, Terry, and finishing at Miles City - making a huge 540 mile figure eight. At Terry the drivers were demolishing trays of doughnuts and gallons of coffee and lemonade, all furuished by the Bank and the Local Ford dealer.
On coffee breaks and at night, time-out is taken. I was informed that the drivers would take-off in about 30 minutes for the finish 35 miles away. Being completely fascinated, I changed my course and proceeded to Miles City to see the finish and learn more about the outcome.


Twenty five cars started in the race and 22 were still running at the finish.
Rules of the race stipulate that these cars shall be examined before the start for safety and to see that they are in original stock condition. Many of the components on the cars are sealed and the seals must still be intact at the finish I they are not intact, a time penalty is assessed. The fastest six cars (three in each class) using aluminum or cast iron pistons are torn down in a local garage and must pass through a check to see that parts have not been modified.
At this year's race, the fastest 3 cars in the aluminum category had certain modifications which disqualified them. The next in line were examined and became the winners. First place in the Aluminum class was Dave Ratzberg, a farmer from Ledger, Montana. His time was 10 hours, 51 minutes 12 seconds with an average speed of 51 miles per hour. Second place winner was Al Reckar, an ex-Chevrolet mechanic who now works for the State. He lives in Boulder, Montana. Third place was a tie between Doug Langley, a wheat and barley farmer from Rudyard, Montana, and Don Endleman, a machinist from Chicago, Ill.
First Place in the Cast Iron piston class went to Richard Armstrong, President of the Montana Cross Country T Association. Second place was Ross Anderson from Arlington, Colorado. Third went to John French, a helicopter mechanic from Lancaster, California.
Model T's competing in the Montana 500 came from California, Illinois, Washington, Colorado and Minnesota as well as Montana. About one hundred "T'ers" traveled along with the 25 racers. Wives and friends accompanied the racing cars in pickups, campers, trailers, house cars and car trailers. These T's were driven by people from all walks of life, and their ages ranged from 19 to 79.
It is rumored that the 1973 Montana 500 may visit the town of Shelby in Western Montana.

(end of article)

A few notes about this article. It is supposedly written by Carl Bergman, but my records show Carl as having attended the run the year before (1971) and also as having run in 1972 and placing third in the cast iron division. John French was at the 1972 run, as I have pictures of his car. The text manages to misspell all four winners in the aluminum division, although the caption of the photo spells Dave Ratzburg's name right. As near as I can discern, the cars in the left photo are Dave Meuli, Rick Carnegie and Cliff Hellwig, left to right. The article suggested that the 1973 run might go through Shelby - it didn't.