Renewable Fuel, Hybrids Stack Line Up for “Great Race”

John Davis

Great RaceNext year, marks the 100th anniversary of the 1908 New York to Paris “Great Race” and organizers are planning a “Great Race” re-run that will showcase the advances in the automotive industry. Car enthusiasts will be lining up with renewable-fuel powered cars and vintage cars with one mission: to promote hybrid cars cruising around the world on the least amount of fuel possible.

Ten teams driving hybrid electric cars will join the Innovation Class of next summer’s Great Race from New York to Paris and attempt to complete the almost 22,000 mile (35,000 km) course by driving as efficiently as possible. ‘Hypermilers’, as they are known, push the limits of fuel efficiency and achieve unheard of miles-per-gallon readings of as high has 100 mpg.

Great RaceThis is the first in a series of MPG Challenges, created in partnership with Hybridfest, Inc., organizers of the nation’s largest hybrid car festival. Bill Ewing, chief executive officer of Great Race Sports, Inc., organizer of the event, said he is emphasizing the Great Race to promote major improvements in fuel economy not only through technology, but also by improving personal driving habits.

The Great Race celebrates the 100th anniversary of one of the most remarkable automotive events of the 20th century, an automobile race nearly around the world, from New York to Paris in 1908. Following the start in New York City, The Great Race will travel across three continents and 13 countries, reaching more than a billion people. In a repeat of that milestone event, the Great Race will travel across North America, Asia and Europe in 65 days, this time featuring classic cars, renewable fuel powered cars and now hybrid cars.

“Clearly the world has a big fuel problem,” said Bill Ewing.

The commemorative event will start May 30 in New York City and will finish in Paris, France on August 2, 2008.

The 2008 Great Race commemorates an event that began on Feb. 12, 1908, when six automobiles left New York City’s Times Square to the cheers of a crowd of 250,000 in what was described by its newspaper sponsors as “the toughest race ever devised.” Despite the daunting challenge of traveling poor roads in harsh weather, teams from three countries persevered in the race across North America, Asia and Europe, finishing in Paris more than five months later (two in July, one in September). It was a sensational adventure told in breathless daily newspaper dispatches and later in books and films. The event was spoofed in the 1960s Tony Curtis-Jack Lemmon movie, “The Great Race.”

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