AN AMAZING FACT: On February 12, 1908, over 250,000 cheering spectators gathered in Times Square to witness the start of the longest automobile competition in history—a global race from New York to Paris. Six cars and their teams from France, Italy, Germany, and the United States would follow an ambitious course west across the U.S. to Seattle, cross the Pacific by ship to Japan, then through Russia, Germany, and finish in Paris.
The starting pistol was fired and off they went. The American car, built by the Thomas Motor Company, had a four-cylinder, 60-horsepower engine that could reach a maximum speed of 60 mph. The lead place was exchanged several times by the German, Italian, and American teams. This torturous race began in mid-winter back when there were few maintained roads, no snowplows, no 4WD, no radios, unreliable maps, and no regular gas stations or food stops. When possible they would follow railroad tracks, a bone-jarring experience. Sometimes they were lost for days and had to backtrack. Often, horses were hired to pull the cars through the deep Iowa snow or Siberian mud. Occasionally the teams even stopped to help rescue each other. On they pushed, and finally after 169 days and over 22,000 miles, on July 30, 1908, the American team arrived in Paris to win the race.
Of the six teams that started the grueling contest, only three arrived in Paris. Incredibly, the winning American driver, George Schuster, appeared in Times Square only to deliver the Thomas Flyer to the starting line. When the chosen mechanic withdrew at the last minute, George was asked to fill in as the team mechanic. On a whim he changed his clothes, climbed aboard, and made history. Before the race was over, George had become the driver and was the only original member of the American team to finish the historic race. George, who lived to 99, had also become the first person to drive across the United States during the winter in an automobile.
Did you know the Bible speaks of the Christian life as a great race? It encourages us to give this race everything we’ve got. And if we keep our eyes on Jesus, who is “the author and finisher of our faith,” we can’t lose!
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2