On February 12, 1908, a group of auto-industry pioneers and self-proclaimed madmen set off on an unthinkable journey-the first automobile race around the world. Six cars-including only one from the United States, the Thomas Flyer-left New York City for Alaska and drove straight into a blizzard toward Paris, France, the final destination. The race was followed worldwide via telegraph and newspaper for the next six months: They crossed rivers on ferry boats and rickety wooden bridges; dug foot-by-foot through snow drifts that threatened to bury them; ate and slept in lean-tos at the side of the railroad tracks they used when there were no paved roads; and waited for days for parts or fuel to arrive in villages that had never seen a motor vehicle. The obstacles and battles they fought were epic, as were the personalities of the racers and their cars. In the end, even what should have been a clear victory was muddled by the egotistical claims by some of the drivers.