August 10, 1907 – The end of Peking to Paris

On January 31, 1907 the Paris newspaper Le Martin put out a challenge to prove to the world that the automobile was indeed a great machine. The paper read “What needs to be proved today is that as long as a man has a car, he can do anything and go anywhere. Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?”  On June 10, 1907 five European teams left Peking (now Beijing) to embark on a 9,317 mile race across untamed lands, much without any roads. Today in 1907 the first team crossed the finish line in Paris. It was an Itala driven by Prince Scipione Borghese who was accompanied by Luigi Barzini, Sr., a journalist. Each car had a journalist on board, and the race did follow a hazardous telegraph line, so that the journalists could send stories to the papers from the telegraph stations along the way. Only four teams finished, the Itala, a Dutch Spyker, and two French DeDions. A French three wheel Contal got stuck in the Gobi desert and was not recovered. Luckily the crew made it out alive. The winner of the race, Borghese, was given the prize of a magnum of Mumm champagne. The race has been reenacted several times. Most recently in June of this year. PhotosMap of the 1907 routeBorghese & Barzini’s ItIala fell through a bridgeThe Itala being pulled through terrain it can’t drive throughThe Itala itself.

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