Monday, May 26, 2008

The Great Race

Well, I don’t know about Y’all out dare in Raceland… But, while although certainly entertaining, I’m NOT to certain about this year’s running of the Indianapolis 500 qualifying as the greatest Spectale in racing? (Yet Princess Danicker improved her patented STOMP as she got ready to rumble with Ryan “the Dude!” Briscoe…)

Thus, one must marvel at what could be considered one of The Greatest Races in history, the New York to Paris race, held a century ago…

Imagine having only a short 12 hours time span to prepare for an unexpected around the world journey, as that’s exactly what happened to eventual winner George Schuster, who was summoned to New York’s Times Square to participate. Although thirteen vehicles were entered in the competition, only six took the green flag before more than 250,000 applauding spectators cheered them on, with the vehicles reaching the breakneck speed of 30mph along Broadway Avenue on Lincoln’s birthday, February 12th, 1908…

At the time of this unprecedented motoring event, only nine men had ever driven across the United States and Schuster had merely been sent at the last moment to ride along and represent his employer, the E.R. Thomas Motor Company, out of Buffalo.

It was hoped that the competitors would reach the West Coast in 22 days, yet this turned out to be fairly optimistic as no one had ever attempted the cross country trek during the winter… As it would take 41 days for the Flyer to reach San Francisco! And while the main protagonist, the Protos had been built by a workforce of 600 for the Kaiser Wilhelm II, specifically for this event, the Thomas Flyer was primarily a “Stock” car, as that’s how the 1907 Model Flyer Roadster, 60 horsepower four cylinder automobile had come off the Thomas production line…

(As obviously the Thomas Flyer (Has to be one of my most favourite named vehicles, eh?)

Without Schuster’s perseverance and mechanical abilities, the vehicle WITHOUT Heater or Windscreen! (Consider how refined today’s racecars are) Would have never made it to the finish line… Being declared the victor when the Protos was given a one month penalty for such infractions as having skipped portions of the trip, like Seattle to Japan and having been transported by railroad from Idaho to Seattle!

Interestingly, my memory wishes to recall seeing said Thomas Flyer in the Reno Automobile Museum several years ago, when the city actually hosted an SCCA Pro Trans Am event…

On May 30th, there will begin a 100yr Anniversary re-enactment of this great race begun once again from Times Square(?) in the 2008 Edition of the New York to Paris race

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