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New York to Paris Race

In 1908, an international automobile race was run from New York's Times Square westward to Paris, France.

Four nations entered six cars: Italy, with the Brixia Zust; Germany, with the Protos; France, with the De Dion, the Moto-Bloc, and the Sizaire-Naudin; and the United States, with the Thomas Speedway Flyer.

The starting line, on February 12, 1908, was in Times Square. Two hundred and fifty thousand people turned out to watch. The route crossed the country to San Francisco. There, drivers shipped out to Alaska and drove to the Bering Strait, where they ferried across and pushed through Russia to Europe, finishing at the Eiffel Tower. Organizers estimated the trip to take six months and the route to be 20,000 miles long.

George Schuster was the last living member of the winning crew, serving as mechanic and a driver. Their auto was the "Thomas Flyer", an American entry. The French entered three autos, and Italy, Germany, and the U.S. each had one. Only three would reach Paris. The retelling makes extensive use of archival B&W photos.

The Longest Auto Race. George Schuster, Tom Mahoney.This volume was dedicated to William Harrah, who restored the Thomas Flyer and put it on display at the Harrah Museum in Reno NV. Includes: illustrations, index. More than five decades have passed, but it remains a unique, epic achievement in the annals of the automobile, an amazing triumph of mechanical ingenuity and the human spirit over incredible odds.

March 26, 1908, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California


By Associated Press

SEATTLE, Wash., March 25. L. H. Gray, manager of the steamer Corwin, which sails for Nome May 10, and which enjoys the distinction of having been the first boat into the northern port for the last six years, has received a telegram from the three leading automobiles in the New York-to-Paris race, asking for reservations on the vessel. They want to charter the steamer for a trip from Nome to the Siberian coast, and this Mr. Gray has agreed to.

He says ice on the Siberian coast breaks up earlier than on the American side, owing to the strong currents. He expects to land the automobilists in Siberia early in June.

SAN FRANCISCO, March 25. — M. Godard, one of the French contestants for the international cup which will be presented by the Paris Automobile club to the winner of the New York-to-Paris race, arrived here by train last night. He expects his car, which was shipped from Ogden, to reach here Friday, and says he hopes to make up lost time in Siberia, with which country he is familiar. The American car will leave on the steamship City of Pueblo next Friday and proceed to Valdez. It is probable that Godard will leave next day for the same point.


By Associated Press.

OGDEN, Utah, March 25. The Italian car made its second start from Ogden at 10:40 this morning, this time on a flat car instead of on its own wheels. The automobile will be unloaded at the point where it broke down, about ninety miles west of here or. the old Central Pacific line north of the Great Salt Lake, and the Journey to the coast resumed.

March 26, 1908 (printed in Oakland, California)

Editor's Note: Article available on California Digital Newspaper Collection.

Amerikanen framst-Car-Race


March 27, 1908, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California


By Associated Press. SAN FRANCISCO, March 26.—The American car In the New York to Paris automobile race will start for Valdez at 11 o'clock tomorrow morning on board the steamer City of Pueblo.

George Shuster, who will be at the wheel for the remainder of the journey to Paris, states that he expects to take the car into Paris twenty-one days ahead of his nearest competitor.

He says that Godard, with one of the French cars, has violated the conditions of the contest and that the Italian car is his nearest competitor.

Godard denies that he is disqualified, and proposes to proceed 'to Alaska as soon as possible.

March 27, 1908, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California

Offers the Pilot Car to Consulates

Automobile Club of California Extends Its Guides to the Foreign Racers

R. R. l'Hommedieu

Plans for. giving the other international auto racers a royal reception were perfected yesterday through the runs and tours committee of the Automobile Club of California, of which A. B. Watson is chairman. A representative of the club called on Henri Merou, consul general of France, extending the compliments of the club and offering a pilot to the French car that Is crossing the continent. M. Merou graciously accepted the offer and requested that all arrangements be made with J. R. Marx, local agent for the Renault Freres selling branch, who will care for the crew and car when it arrives. The same courtesy was extended to Signor Rocca, the Italian consul, in behalf of the Italian racer. Cavalier Rocca was pleased with the attention and asked that all arrangements be made with A. F. Pedrini. a member of the Italian touring club, who will head a delegation that is going as far as San Jose to meet the car. The club representative was unable to see the German consul, Frank Ropp, yesterday, but will today extend the same courtesy of a pilot as was given the American car. The pilot car will pick up the racers at Los Banos and bring them through the Pacheco pass into the Santa Clara, valley and thence on to the city.

The Thomas racer will leave the Pioneer salesroom today at 10 a.m. and proceed down Golden Gate avenue and Market street to the ferry, where It will be put aboard the City of Pueblo for Seattle.

The impression has got abroad and credited to Charles Godard that he claimed to be the first car in the Paris to Peking race. When asked yesterday he said that this was not so; he stated that he was second in that contest and that the race was won by Prince Sciprini Borgehese. Godard claims some harsh treatment on his trip west, but is more than delighted with San Francisco and the treatment he has received in the few hours he has been here.

There was quite a notable gathering at the salesroom of the Pioneer automobile company yesterday when Henri Merou, the French consul, came with J. R. Marx to look over the American car that had made the record across the continent. With Edwin L. Thomas and E. P. Brlnegar they went within the inclosure where the car was being set up after being overhauled and made quite an examination. Charles Godard was in the party, and introductions were made all around with the American crew there was a lot of good natured bantering between Miller, the Thomas driver, and Godard of the Motoblock, each telling the other how badly they were going to leave one another behind when they reached Siberia.

Fred J. Linz, manager of the Maxwell-Briscoe Pacific company, yesterday reported 10 orders for Maxwell cars from agents and six from private parties during the day. The orders consisted of two four cylinder 20 horsepower touring cars, five four cylinder 28 horsepower touring cars and nine two cylinder 14 horsepower runabouts.

Hans Henry Hanson, who Is a member of the crew of the Thomas automobile that reached San Francisco first in the New York to Paris race, yesterday obtained the restoration of his destroyed naturalisation papers. He lost his original papers in September, 1906, while crossing a river in Persia. Judge Graham restored the papers.

March 28, 1908, Red Bluff Daily News, Red Bluff, California


SAN FRANCISCO. March 27.—After thoroughly overhauling the Thomas or American flyer In the New York to Paris race, it left here today on the second lap of the 21,000 mile journey. With the car were Captain Hans Hansen, George Schuster and George Miller.

The car was sent on board the steamer City of Pueblo for Seattle., The vessel is expected to arrive there on Monday, and the car will start on Tuesday for Valdez, which it is expected will be reached in six days. From Valdez it will go to Nome and, will then be ferried over the Behring Straits to Siberia.

A feature of the trip will be the turning loose of carrier pigeons carrying messages to San Francisco.

April 16, 1908, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California

American Car Loses Its Big Lead

Failure of Its Alaskan Trip Gives Foreign Compeetitors the Advantage

SEATTLE, April 15.— The French and Italian cars in the New York to Paris automobile race left for Vladivostok today on the steamship Aki Maru. The foreigners have an excellent start on- the American car. They will go to Dalny and thence to Vladivostok and travel across Siberia's frozen wastes to Paris.

The steamer Glenlogan, on which the German car will go from Seattle to Vladivostok, arrived here yesterday from Tacoma and began loading for the far east. The German car is expected here Friday or Saturday and the ship wil. get away Saturday night. It will make the run in about three weeks, arriving at Vladivostok about May 10. The French and ltalian cars on the Aki Maru will have to to be transshipped at Kobe, where they will arrive May 6. If they make connections at once with the ships for Vladivostok they wlll arrive in the latter port about the same time as the German car. The Alaska section of the journey has been positively abandoned. The Americans were warned agalnst attempting the trip from Valdez to Nome, but the authorities in New York and Parts would not consent to a change at that time. The American car will arrive here Friday on the steamship Bertha and probably will sail on the Glenlogan with the German car.

April 17, 1908, Sacramento Union, Sacramento, California


Victoria (B.C.), April 16—A wireless dispatch from the steamer Bertha, sound-bound from Alaska, reports that steamer passing Active Pass at 7:30 p.m. on her way to Seattle with the Thomas Flier, the American car in the New York to Paris automobile race, on board. The Bertha was bucking a heavy gale, making but six miles an hour.

April 18, 1908, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California


By Associated Press.

SEATTLE, April 17.—0n the steamship Glenlogan, operated by Jebson & Ostrander, the American and German cars in the New York to Paris automobile race will leave Seattle tomorrow afternoon at 5 o'clock. The American car arrived here from Alaska this morning on the steamship Bertha, having; failed to make any impression whatever on Alaska's snow and ice trails. The German car Porthos is scheduled to arrive here this afternoon at 5 o'clock from Ogden.

April 18, 1908, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California


SEATTLE, -Wash., April 17.— 0n the steamshlp Glenlogan, operated by Jebsen and Ostrander. the American and German cars in the New York' to Paris automobile contest will leave- Seattle tomorrow afternoon at 5 o'clock. The American car arrived here from Alaska this morning on the steamship Bertha, having failed to make any impression whatever on Alaska's snow and ice trails.

May 20, 1908, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California


VLADIVOSTOK. May 19.— The American automobile In the New York to Paris race reached here this morning after a run across the sea of Japan on the steamship Mongolia, leaving Tsuruga on Saturday afternoon. It will scarcely be possible for the Thomas car to start on the road across Siberia before Wednesday morning, as there are various matters to arrange before the car can begin its trip.

June 7, 1908, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California


St. Petersburg, June 6. Bourcier St. Chaffray, the conductor of the French car in the New York to Paris automobile race arrived here today by rail on his way to Paris. He left his car at Vladivostok.

May 23, 1908, Lompoc Journal, Lompoc, California

Only American and German Cars Left

Paris. —The committee in charge of the New York to Paris race received from Milan official announcement from the Societa Morori Zust of the withdrawal of its car from the race at Vladivostok. The Marquis de Dion has also formally withdrawn his car, leaving the American Thmas car and the German Protos car to complete the journey from Vladivostok to Paris alone.

June 7, 1908, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California


Men Who Compete in New York to Paris Event Will Be Rewarded at End of Contest

At a meeting in Paris of the patronage committee called together by the organizers of the New York-Paris race it was unanimously decided that, inasmuch as the original Itinerary, which comprised the crossing of Alaska and Bering strait, had been greatly modified, there was no reason for holding to the award of a cup to the car that should perform the exploit of crossing the polar seas. The committee, thinking, nevertheless, that the great effort made by several of the cars to accomplish the tour of the world and establish a record without precedent in the annals of automobillsm deserved acknowledgment and reward, decided to create three prizes, to be awarded as follows:

  • First: grand prize of the tour of the world by automobile, of a value of 6000 francs ($1200), to be given to the car which, having started from New York February 12 shall arrive flrst at Paris.
  • Second: A second prlze of a value of 3000 francs ($600), to be given to the car that shall arrive second.
  • Third: A third prize of a value of 1000 francs ($200), to be given to the car that shall arrive third.

These prizes are offered conjointly by Le Matin of Paris and the New York Times. In addition, the Alaska Siberian, company offers a special prize of 6000 francs ($1000) to the car that shall consume the least time in making the trip from Vladivostok to Tschlta (Russian frontier), and the Automobile Club of St. Petersburg has promised to award a cup to the car which shall reach St. Petersburg first.

June 22, 1908, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California


Paris, June 22. A dispatch to the Matin from Irkutak says that the American car in the New york to Paris race has crossed Lake Baikal and is expected to arrive there soon. The GErman car is at Irkutsk and will remain at that city until Monday.

The Protos crossed the finish line first, but factoring in its penalty, did not win the race. The Thomas Flyer arrived in Paris on Friday, July 31, 1908, 170 days after leaving Times Square, the true winner. Buffalo was ecstatic and threw George Schuster a hero’s welcome party in Cazenovia Park that drew 10,000 people.

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Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers, and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.




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Copyright © 1998-2017. All U.S.A. and International Rights Reserved. D. Blethen Adams Levy.

Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; Maritime Library, San Francisco, California, various Maritime Museums around the world.

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