"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?" Thus began, in 1907, the first and most significant of endurance Rally challenges in the world today.
There were no rules in the original 1907 race, except that the first car to Paris would win the prize of a magnum of Mumm champagne. Camels carrying fuel left Peking and set up at stations along the route, to provide fuel for the racers. The race followed a telegraph route, so that the race was well covered in newspapers at the time. Each car had one journalist as a passenger, with the journalists sending stories from the telegraph stations regularly throughout the race. One entrant in the original 1907 race driving a Contal cyclecar became bogged down in the Gobi desert and was not recovered. The crew was lucky to be found alive by locals.
Counting the original 1907 the race has been only been run six times. Entrance is limited to around a 100 vintage and classic cars. The race covers over 10,000 miles and passes through nine countries reenacted.
While much has changed since the race was first run in 1907, however there are still challenges. During the running of the fifth race in 2013, the race was marred in the third week of the month long event by the death of a British participant.
The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge is unique in the motoring world – a true endurance motor rally following in the tracks of the original pioneers of 1907. Driving an old car nearly half way around the world, pitted against like-minded enthusiasts, against the clock, with the added spice of timed sections, makes Peking to Paris the longest and toughest driving challenge for Vintage and Classic cars.
In 2015 a monument to the winner of the first race a 1906 Itala 35/45 HP was erected in Kirov, Russia. The monument commemorates the winning team's stopover in 1907.
For more information, please visit the Endurance Rally Association website!
Photos courtesy of the ERA from former PtoP races.