The 1908 Race
Click above for the Google Map of the 1908 Great Race
The New York to Paris, Great Race of 1908 for automobiles was conceived by a group of newspaper businessmen, who felt sponsoring a race around the world would increase circulation for the Le Matin of Paris, the Times of New York and the Chicago Tribune. They justified their wild idea on the basis that the recently completed Peking to Paris run had received great publicity and had been successful in selling newspapers for them. Also, it was hoped that this trip would prove that cars could go anywhere thus boosting the automobile industry.
On February 12, 1908, in Times Square, over 250,000 people gathered to watch six automobiles leave New York to travel around the world to Paris. These cars from four countries lined up on 43rd Street and Seventh Avenue. They were regular road automobiles of the day that had been especially prepared and equipped for the long and challenging race that they were about to begin.
France entered 3 cars:
Germany entered the largest automobile:
The United States entered 1 car:
Italy entered 1 car:
The atmosphere was festive with buildings lavishly decorated with French, German, American and Italian flags and numerous brass bands playing. The President of the American Automobile Association, Colgate Hoyt, had the honour of starting the race by firing a gold pistol. Engines roared, horns honked, the crowd cheered and the cars were off!
How they survived storms, frigid weather and the other perils is an inspiring story of human endurance and automobile engineering.