in

The Great New York to Paris Auto Race of 1908 Through Stunning Historic Photos

Automobiles in the early 20th century were infant technologies with no infrastructure such as road maps, traffic signals, pavement, gas stations, parking lots, expressways, or motels. The vast majority of people hadn’t seen a car before. So what could be more exciting than the first automobile race ’round the world under conditions such as these?

In the summer of 1907, a race was announced “The Great Race: New York to Paris by Automobile.” The reward: a trophy weighing 1,400 pounds and proof that it could be done. The race began on February 12, 1908, in Times Square. A total of six cars representing four nations began the 169-day ordeal (making it the longest motorsport event to date). Germany, France, Italy, and the United States participated in the race. Germany sent a Protos, Italy sent a Zust, France sent three cars (De Dion-Bouton, Motobloc, and Sizaire-Naudin), and the United States sent a Thomas Flyer. The Thomas Flyer entered the race at the insistence of Theodore Roosevelt, who was concerned about European automobiles crossing the country unchallenged. A more established company, such as Buffalo’s Pierce-Arrow, declined to enter. At the last minute, the Thomas Automobile Company, also from Buffalo, pulled a production car from its factory and entered the race. Buffalo’s own George Schuster drove and was the mechanic.

The proposed route crossed the United States through areas with few roads, followed by a boat trip across Alaska (hopefully frozen Bering Strait). The second crossing across Siberia to Moscow and the final leg to Paris. This was the first-ever winter crossing of the United States by car, which took 41 days, 8 hours, and 15 minutes. After being transported to Seattle, the vehicle was shipped to Valdez, Alaska. As the Americans turned north, they had a line of followers that stretched from California to Iowa. Zust was in Omaha, De Dion in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Moto*Bloc in Maple Park, Illinois, and Protosa were in Geneva, Illinois. Due to mechanical problems, another French car was forced to withdraw. Thomas’ crew returned to Seattle after encountering impossible conditions in Alaska. A steamer rerouted the race across the Pacific to Japan, from where the Americans crossed the Sea of Japan. After that, it was on to Vladivostok, Siberia, by ship to begin crossing Asia and Europe. The German Protos, the Italian Züst, and the American Flyer were the only competitors to get past Vladivostok. During the spring thaw, the wet plains of Siberia and Manchuria made travel difficult.

It was a race that established the automobile’s reliability as a means of transportation far beyond the race itself. This led to the construction of better roads in many parts of the world.

#1 The racers line up at the starting point in Times Square.

The racers line up at the starting point in Times Square.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#2 An enormous crowd fills Times Square to see the racers take off.

An enormous crowd fills Times Square to see the racers take off.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#3 The Italian Zust car, with driver Emilio Sirtori and journalist Antonio Scarfoglio.

The Italian Zust car, with driver Emilio Sirtori and journalist Antonio Scarfoglio.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#4 The American Thomas Flyer, driven by George Schuster and Montague “Monty” Roberts.

The American Thomas Flyer, driven by George Schuster and Montague “Monty” Roberts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#5 The French Moto-Bloc, driven by Charles Godard.

The French Moto-Bloc, driven by Charles Godard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#6 The Sizaire-Naudin of Pons, Deschamps and Berlhe

The Sizaire-Naudin of Pons, Deschamps and Berlhe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#7 The German Protos Car, driven by Lt. Hans Koeppen.

The German Protos Car, driven by Lt. Hans Koeppen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#8 The racers set out from Times Square.

The racers set out from Times Square.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#9 The French De Dion drives through Utica, New York.

The French De Dion drives through Utica, New York.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#10 Emilio Sirtori drives the Italian Zust through Utica, New York, followed by the American Thomas Flyer

Emilio Sirtori drives the Italian Zust through Utica, New York, followed by the American Thomas Flyer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#11

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#12

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#13

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#14

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#15

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#16 G. Bourcier de St. Chaffray drives the French De Dion.

G. Bourcier de St. Chaffray drives the French De Dion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#17

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#18 Hans Koeppen drives the German Protos through Marshalltown, Pennsylvania.

Hans Koeppen drives the German Protos through Marshalltown, Pennsylvania.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#19

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#20 The German Protos car passes through Grand Island, Nebraska.

The German Protos car passes through Grand Island, Nebraska.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#21

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#22

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#23

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#24

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#25 Racers pass through Grand Island, Nebraska.

Racers pass through Grand Island, Nebraska.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#26

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#27 The drivers of the American Thomas Flyer car wait for the ferry in Valdez, Alaska.

The drivers of the American Thomas Flyer car wait for the ferry in Valdez, Alaska.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#28 The American Thomas Flyer drives through Kobe, Japan.

The American Thomas Flyer drives through Kobe, Japan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#29 The American Thomas Flyer car drives through the Manchurian countryside.

The American Thomas Flyer car drives through the Manchurian countryside.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#30 The American Thomas Flyer car stops outside an inn in Manchuria.

The American Thomas Flyer car stops outside an inn in Manchuria.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#31 The American Thomas Flyer car drives through Manchuria.

The American Thomas Flyer car drives through Manchuria.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#32 Crowds gather in Berlin for the arrival of the racers.

Crowds gather in Berlin for the arrival of the racers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#33 Protos car in Berlin at the court of the Ullstein house, regard by viewers.

Protos car in Berlin at the court of the Ullstein house, regard by viewers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#34 Viewer at rooftop. They would like to have a better look at the arriving racing cars.

Viewer at rooftop. They would like to have a better look at the arriving racing cars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#35 Berlin The legendary car race from New York to Paris 1908 last more than 7 months.

Berlin The legendary car race from New York to Paris 1908 last more than 7 months.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#36 Protos car in Berlin at the court of the Ullstein house, regard by viewers.

Protos car in Berlin at the court of the Ullstein house, regard by viewers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#37 Racing driver Koeppen was the first on target, but at the end he only got the second place.

Racing driver Koeppen was the first on target, but at the end he only got the second place.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#38 Thousands of people waiting of the arrival of the Protos car in Berlin at the Ullstein house.

Thousands of people waiting of the arrival of the Protos car in Berlin at the Ullstein house.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#39 Berlin The legendary car race from New York to Paris 1908 last more than 7 months. Arrival of the Protos car in Berlin, acclaimed of thousands of people.

Berlin The legendary car race from New York to Paris 1908 last more than 7 months. Arrival of the Protos car in Berlin, acclaimed of thousands of people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#40 Arrival of the Protos car in Berlin at the Ullstein house, acclaimed of thousands of people.

Arrival of the Protos car in Berlin at the Ullstein house, acclaimed of thousands of people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#41 The Dion-Bouton-Car of Sir Chaffey, commissioner general, of the tour organisation, on its way leaving New York.

The Dion-Bouton-Car of Sir Chaffey, commissioner general, of the tour organisation, on its way leaving New York.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#42 The Thomas Flyer automobile at the start of the around the world ‘New York to Paris’ auto race, The Thomas Flyer eventually won the contest.

The Thomas Flyer automobile at the start of the around the world 'New York to Paris' auto race, The Thomas Flyer eventually won the contest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#43 People surround the Thomas Flyer American car in the 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race, at Valdez, Alaska, while it waits for the ferry to cross to Siberia.

People surround the Thomas Flyer American car in the 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race, at Valdez, Alaska, while it waits for the ferry to cross to Siberia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#44 The Thomas Flyer, victorious American entry rides through the streets in Kobe, Japan.

The Thomas Flyer, victorious American entry rides through the streets in Kobe, Japan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#45 The American Thomas Flyer automobile drives through scrubland during the 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race.

The American Thomas Flyer automobile drives through scrubland during the 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race.

The around the world race, the world's longest auto race, was won by the American car. Drivers Montaque Roberts and George Schuster made the trip in 169 days, driving over 13,000 miles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#46 The Thomas Flyer, Victorious American car in the 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race, stopped outside an inn in Manchuria. Crowds of Chinese look on.

The Thomas Flyer, Victorious American car in the 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race, stopped outside an inn in Manchuria. Crowds of Chinese look on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#47 The Thomas Flyer, American entry in the 1908 New York to Paris Auto race en route thru Manchuria.

The Thomas Flyer, American entry in the 1908 New York to Paris Auto race en route thru Manchuria.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#48 Koeppen with his Protos car starting from Berlin to the embarkment direction New York, January 1908

Koeppen with his Protos car starting from Berlin to the embarkment direction New York, January 1908

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#49 Arrival of the Protos car of 1st lieutenant Hans Koeppen in Grand Island

Arrival of the Protos car of 1st lieutenant Hans Koeppen in Grand Island

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#50 Koeppen with his Protos car starting from Berlin to the embarkment direction New York, January 1908

Koeppen with his Protos car starting from Berlin to the embarkment direction New York, January 1908

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#51 Koeppen with his Protos car starting from Berlin to the embarkment direction New York, January 1908

Koeppen with his Protos car starting from Berlin to the embarkment direction New York, January 1908

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

#52 Drivers of the Thomas Flyer, victorious American auto in the 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race, ride with crowds in Manchuria.

Drivers of the Thomas Flyer, victorious American auto in the 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race, ride with crowds in Manchuria.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Written by Benjamin Grayson

Former Bouquet seller now making a go with blogging and graphic designing. I love creating & composing history articles and lists.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.