In 1907, a French newspaper asked its readers if there was “anyone who [would] undertake to travel this summer from Paris to Peking by automobile” and started perhaps the greatest race in history. Only five contestants entered, including a three-wheeled “tricycle” which broke down in the middle of the Gobi, where it presumably remains. (The crew was rescued by nomads.)But the leading contender was the Italian prince Scipione Borghese, the scion of a noble family who drove a magnificent 40 HP Itala, complete with a supply of champagne. His great rival was a convicted French con man named Charles Godard, who had been eking out a living performing “Wall of Death” motorcycle tricks in a circus when the wind blew a newspaper article about the race at his feet. Although he had never driven a car before, Godard became determined to enter the race. Since he didn’t have any money, he returned to fraud to acquire a car but still had to pay for his passage out by playing the piano on the boat to China. He also had to sell most of his spare parts.The 16,000-kilometer (10,000 mi) race passed through some of the most isolated regions of the world. At one point, Borghese came across an isolated telegraph office and tried to send a message home. It was the first telegraph the office had sent in six years. On another occasion, his car almost went through a wooden bridge, dangling precariously until some locals arrived and pulled it to safety. Still, the prince was so confident that he detoured to St. Petersburg to attend a dinner. Meanwhile, Godard was begging fuel from his competitors and driving for 24 hours at a time in a desperate attempt to catch up. In the end, Borghese won the prize: a magnum of champagne. Godard was arrested for fraud as soon as he arrived in Paris.
A real life Great Race it was. Weird history did a video about this a while back.
There were talks about a centennial edition of that race and I remember that there were tree categories Vintage (Pre-50's), Modern (self describing) and Alternative (solar powered or electric, etc.). The registrations were open and it was actually going to happen but some issues came up in the planning phase and it didn't happen. Somehow Robb Report doesn't have the article easily accessible online.
Just how epic would it be to be able to do something similar today?