Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Flyer’

The great New York to Paris auto race of 1908

November 5, 2010

Inspired by a 1907 race that took drivers from Peking to Paris, car-crazy thrill-seekers came up with an even bigger challenge: a round-the-world race from Manhattan to Paris.

So at about 11 a.m. on February 12, 1908, six cars representing the U.S., Italy, France, and Germany lined up at the starting point in Times Square, which was packed with 250,000 onlookers.

Then they were off—up Broadway and onto primitive roads through the Midwest to San Francisco. There, they hopped a ship to Valdez, Alaska, then a freighter to Siberia.

In Siberia, only three cars were left: teams representing the U.S., Italy, and Germany. The race resumed across Asia, Eastern Europe, and then to Paris.

So who got first prize? The official winner was the U.S. team, driving a 1907 Thomas Flyer. They reached Paris on July 30, 1908.

The Germans actually arrived in Paris four days before the Americans—but they were given a 30-day penalty because they shipped their car part of the way by rail, among other shortcuts.

[Bain Collection/Library of Congress photos]