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John Classen

Course Master

John Classen returns for the 6th time as Course Master for the 2021 Motorcycle Cannonball. Since the inception of the Motorcycle Cannonball in 2010, John has been instrumental in laying out the challenging rides and incredible sights along the course for the Cannonballers.

2019 brought a new challenge for John, the Cross Country Chase, where his navigation took competitors on some of the best, two-lane back roads of America from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to Key West, Florida.  He awed riders again in the 2021 event, Mini Chase: Secrets of the Ozarks, that took riders through the most scenic and exciting roads of the Ozarks.

Other than his role of Motorcycle Cannonball and Cross Country Chase Course Master, John Classen has been the Great Race Director of Competition since 1990. He got his start in road rallying in the Sports Car Club of America rally program, in which he won several National Championships in the 1970s and ’80s. For the inaugural Great Race in 1983, founder Tom McRae asked local SCCA regions to provide a route through their territory. The southern California region picked Classen to write the route from the Official Start at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park to the Arizona border.

The next 5 years, Classen was a Great Race competitor, winning the Grand Championship one year and finishing second another. He also navigated for Curtis Graf for several of those years. Graf and Classen are the only two persons who have participated in every Great Race.

In 1989, Tom McRae asked Classen to assist with Race operations, and the next year hired him to be Director of Competition, a position he has held ever since. Classen has written every Great Race from 1990 through 2021, and with his wife Rachel Simon driving, he has run lead car on each of those events.