OXFORD - In a couple of weeks, residents Bob Osborn and Willard Revaz are going to hop in a car and travel cross country.
But, this is no ordinary cross-country trip.
The two men, both 67 and retired, are traveling in a 1914 Model T-Ford along a route similar to one established 100 years ago for a contest sponsored by millionaire Robert Guggenheim.
The contest, called the Ocean to Ocean Endurance Race, was part of a publicity campaign for the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition held in Seattle.
Participating in the 4,106-mile race, which took 22 days to complete, were a lightweight Model T and four heavy weight vehicles - a Stearns, an Acme, a Shawmut and an Itala.
The 1909 Ford finished first, but the Shawmut was ultimately declared the winner, even though it crossed the finish line 17 hours later, because the Ford's engine had been illegally replaced by different one for part of the trip.The Ford's performance nevertheless sparked people's interest and the event had positive impact on company sales.
This year, 55 Model T's, one from each state and five from foreign countries, will participate in an Ocean to Ocean 100-Year Reenactment.
They will start in New York City on June 14 and end on July 12 in Seattle, following the original route of the 1909 races except for a few deviations where the original roads have disappeared.
The 3,900 -mile trip will take them through 13 states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California.
About 80 miles of the journey will be on interstate highways where drivers will have a police escort.
Bob, who lives on Aspectuck Drive and Willard, a resident of Scott Road, have been friends for 18 years. It was their common interest in antique cars, especially the Model T, that brought them together. They each own four of them.
For Willard, interest in Model T's evolved from the need for a hobby that he could pursue at home after he married and had a family.
Acting on advice from his father-in law, who told him he wouldn't have a lot of time to run around after he had children, Willard bought an old Model T for $1,200. It took him seven years to restore it and he still has it today.
Bob, on the other hand, always had a passion for cars, especially custom cars, muscle cars, street rods, sports cars and antique cars.
The 1914 Model T the pair will be driving in the cross country race is his.
Being a touring car, it has a back seat and therefore more room for baggage and spare parts than some other models.
"Also, it's my favorite car," he said.
Bob and Willard learned about the upcoming reenactment about five years ago through one of the car clubs they belong to.
Bob applied immediately for the opportunity to represent Connecticut, asking his wife to partner with him on the trip.
When she hesitated, saying she didn't want to be away from home for a month, he appealed to Willard.
Without hesitation, Willard agreed to be his co-pilot and navigator.
The 50 American spots filled quickly, Bob noted.
The logistics of the trip , including the route and overnight lodging places, are predetermined by organizers, but it is up to participants to make reservations for 29 nights and to book their return flights.
Drivers also have to make arrangements for the return of their vehicles.
Their most pressing responsibility, however, is making sure their vehicles are roadworthy and safe.
For Bob and Willard, that meant installing a newly overhauled engine and checking out the car's lighting system, braking system, tires and tubes.
The vehicle is a convertible with no heat and no air conditioner. Its speed ranges to about 40 miles per hour but 30-35 miles per hour is more comfortable, given the vehicle's hard, narrow tires.
But, they won't know exactly how fast they're going because there is no speedometer.
What concerns the men most is the weather.
They can be subjected to every extreme - rain, tornadoes, cold and snow. They are particularly wary of going through Kansas, a state prone to high temperatures and unexpected weather disturbances this time of year.
They also could encounter snow in Washington, they said.
Bob and Willard noted that all the drivers are required to travel a prescribed distance per day ranging from 93 to 260 miles.
They can stop for lunch whenever they are hungry.
It is expected that civic organizations in some of the towns they pass through will offer hospitality in the form of barbecues or picnics, but they are prepared, for the most part, to pay their own way.
The men estimated the cost of the trip at between $10,000 and $12,000.
"It will be worth every penny," said Bob.
In accordance with rules established by the organizers, they will travel for three days and stop for rest and repairs on the fourth day.
The two have friends they intend to meet up with en route.
The objective, unlike the original race, is not to get to the final destination first, the men said.
"The grand prize is just to complete the course. There will be not one winner, but 55 winners," they said.
Each team will receive a replica of the Guggenheim trophy that was awarded to the winner in 1909.
The pair anticipates that every car will make it, even if it has to be towed in with a rope. Like Bob and Willard, drivers will be carrying spare parts as will a trailer that will accompany the entourage.
"Many of us consider this a trip of a lifetime," said Bob.
And it probably will be. Because of the hazards of traveling at limited speeds on a route that includes highways, this year's the Ocean to Ocean Reenactment may be the last.
Readers interested in following the daily progress of the event can view it online at www.oceantoocean.ning.com.