The Great 1908 New York-to-Paris Automobile Race On July 30, 1908, the Thomas Flyer crossed the finish line of a car race that had traversed three continents in 169 days. One hundred years later, a group of racing executives is planning to recreate the "The Great Race" Ready, Get Set, Go! 250,000 spectators gathered in Times Square to watch the start of the 1908 race. Six teams — representing France, Germany, Italy and the United States — took part.
Snow Drifts For the first two weeks of the race, the cars battled heavy winter conditions. Because anti-freeze had not been invented yet, the drivers had to drain their engines of water every night.
Passing Through Spectators in Grand Island, Nebraska, crowd near participants of the race. The 1908 race was the inspiration of the 1965 year movie, The Great Race , starring Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk.
Bump in the Road The Thomas Flyer team struggles to coax their vehicle over a railroad track.
Stuck in the Mud In 1908, there were very few paved roads in many parts of the US. The publicity from the race prompted the development of a better national highway system.
All Aboard When the Flyer reached the Pacific Ocean, it was shipped to Alaska, but going there proved impossible, and the car and its team were bound back to Seattle and put on a boat to Japan.
Japan The Flyer was piloted by a series of men, but its ultimate stewardship fell to an unknown mechanic named George Schuster.
China The organizers of the 21st century version of the race had originally hoped to kick off their event during the year of the race's centennial, but they had to change their plans when the Chinese government revoked the visas of all the foreign teams after the Olympic torch protests in London and Paris.
Hard Knock The Flyer waits for repairs in Eastern Siberia. It is only because of Schuster's acumen as a mechanic that the Flyer made it across Russia.
Finish Line The German entry, Protos, arrives in Paris three days ahead of the Flyer. Because the Germans were assessed a one-month penalty for having taken short cuts, the Flyer was ultimately declared the winner. Its victory, the first of an American car in international competition, proved the reliability of the automobile as a form of transportation, and marked the rise of a nascent American automobile industry.
Glory Parisians turn out for the end of the race. After 22,000 miles, Schuster and the Flyer were celebrated in the media, but he saw nothing of the $1,000 that the Automobile Club of America had promised him if he won until 1968, when The New York Times made good on the offer.