The Great Car Race of 1908

It involved only a half-dozen cars and 17 men, but this was one race that not only made history- it changed it.

The Great Race Start in New York- 1908

In 1908 the promise of the automobile was just that- a promise. The industry was in its infancy, and most people still relied on horses or their own two feet to get from one place to another. Skeptics were convinced that the automobile was just an expensive and unreliable gimmick. So how could anyone prove to the world that the automobile was the most practical, durable, and reliable means of transport ever invented?  Easy: Sponsor a race. But not just any race- it would have to be a marathon of global proportions, pitting the newfangled machines (and their drivers) against the toughest conditions possible on a course stretching around the world, with a sizable cash prize to the winner, say, $1,000. Then call it “The Great Race”…and cross your fingers.

The Race Route

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Another accounting of the race from the Smithsonian website