Growing up I watched a lot of different movies that my parents had enjoyed when they were younger and since my parents were a bit older than some my age (father and mother born in 49 and 55 respectfully with me being born in 87) it meant that I got some very odd movies that I might never have seen otherwise.
One of my favorites that my parents shared with me was titled The Great Race and involved a car race from New York City to Paris.
The story centered on two aspects, the rivalry between Professor Fate and The Great Leslie as well as the ongoing conflict between Leslie and Maggie Dubois (amusingly played by the older sister of one of my favorite Bond girls) a suffragette hellbent on proving that women are every bit as good as men if not more so and the interactions between these three characters provide the backdrop to a series of zany adventures that go from the weird to the outright ridiculous.
If you want to watch it there are full versions of it available on YouTube to watch and you can even rent it as well if you feel like it. I would recommend the movie because it represents a period in cinema when humor was allowed to be both clever and silly without resorting to outright stupidity alongside some of the most outrageous characters ever to prance across a screen.
With all that out of the way, I always assumed that The Great Race was just some silly story concocted for cinema as Hollywood is wont to do. Recently however I discovered that this is not the case, there was in fact a great race in real life and it followed the same route as the film though without the silly shenanigans.
At the turn of the 20th century the automobile was brand new and no one was quite sure what they were capable of and so long distance races were sometimes held to show off the ability of the cars and their advantages over horses.
In 1907 a race was held from Peking in China (modern day Beijing) to Paris and this race spurred on some adventurous (or perhaps crazed) fellows to propose an even more ambitious race: New York City to Paris.
Now if you're like me you'd think that there was a large body of water, namely the Atlantic, between New York City and Paris and you'd be right. However the race wasn't going East. Instead it was to go West across the United States via car, over the Bering Strait via boat and then onwards via car across Russia into Europe to eventually arrive in Paris.
The race was held at the start of 1908 and it was successfully concluded by the end of the year with the various teams either completing or dropping out of the race along the way.
It's really quite a fascinating story and something that I am oh so pleased to discover after having grown up watching The Great Race though sadly neither The Great Leslie or Professor Fate competed in the actual race.1908 New York to Paris Race