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The Longest Auto Race

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Pre-WWII Racing Topics:  1908 New York to Paris Auto Race, George Schuster, The Longest Auto Race

The Longest Auto Race

The John Day Company
Book Publication Date: February 8, 1966


For Immediate Release

In 1908, when automobiles were in their infancy, the preposterous suggestion was made that a race between American and foreign cars be run from New York's Times Square to Paris.  Surrounded by a throng of 250,000 spectators, the French came to the starting line with three entries; Italy, Germany and the United States with one each.

The route of these primitive open cars was from New York to Chicago, across the west to the Pacific coast (a feat itself in those days), aboard ship to Japan, through the vast reaches of Siberia and Russia and, finally, over the European continent to Paris.

Only on the day before the race began was the winner entered, a Thomas Flyer, manufactured in Buffalo, New York. (Today the Flyer is fully restored and can be seen at Harrah's Museum of vintage automobiles in Reno, Nevada)  Long before the cars reached Chicago, their crews had experienced the discouraging effects of bitter winter weather and mechanical failure.  At San Francisco only four cars remained in competition; Paris was reached by three of them.

The winning driver was George Schuster, now 92 years old and the co-author of THE LONGEST AUTO RACE, recalling the details of his famous feat with clarity and precision.  He lives in Springville, New York.

Tom Mahoney is the author of six books and numerous magazine articles, many of them on automobile history.  He is a Texan and a newspaperman who has worked in Kansas City, Des Moines, Buffalo, and Schenectady.  He now makes his home in New York City.

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