Staples' Beetle

Gary Staples’ Beetle.

The first Peking to Paris rally was run in 1907. Despite two thousand applicants, only 5 cars actually arrived at the dock in Beijing and the winner was an Italian prince named Scipione Borghese, who drove a 45 horsepower Italia. Apparently, he didn’t endear himself to his fellow competitors when, upon arriving at the first hotel in Mongolia and discovering that it had 5 rooms, he took all five, leaving the other drivers to sleep in tents outside.

Stanley Gold's Porsche.

Stanley Gold’s ’65 Porsche 911

Since then, the race has been run three times, in 1997, 2007, and 2010 as a classic car race. And takes place again this year with the checkered flag dropping on May 28 somewhere near the Great Wall.

Two Angelenos will be at the starting line: Stanley Gold, President of Shamrock Holdings, Roy Disney’s private investment company, and Garrick Staples, a computer systems administrator who also ran the race in 2010, competing against his father.

Below, Warren talked to the drivers. 

Taking the Porsche for a test drive in the desert.

Taking the Porsche for a test drive in the desert.

Staples will be driving a 1969 VW Beetle, and Gold will be driving a 1965 Porsche 911. Both cars have received modifications to withstand the rigors of the 33-day trip across 8,000 miles, much of it without hardtop, or even real roads. (For details of the work done to the ’65 Porsche, see Gold’s website.)

The route will take the drivers from Beijing up through Mongolia into Siberia, through Ukraine, Slovakia, the Alps of Austria and Switzerland, and finally into France, ending in Paris with a parade down the Champs-Élysées (for whichever of the 100 or so cars that make it that far).

The interior of the '69 Beetle

The interior of the ’69 Beetle

Other cars entering the race include a 1917 La France, the oldest entrant, and a German 1250cc MG TC, the smallest. In addition, there are four Ford Model As, some Bentleys, a Rolls Royce Ghost, two Cadillac La Salles, three Volvos, four Mercedes, three Ford Mustangs…

You can follow the race, here.

 

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