February 14, 1908 -- Ever see the 1965 movie, "The Great Race"? It starred Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood and Peter Falk, and was about an auto race from New York to Paris.
There really was such an auto race in 1908, and, strangely enough, there were a couple of Buffalo connections.
The first was that the route of the event came right through Buffalo. Day Three of the event wound up here. A crowd of 5,000 reportedly came out to greet the contestants. That's not as many as the 250,000 that saw the six teams off at Times Square in New York.
The cars took a boat across the Pacific Ocean, but eventually they made it all the way to Paris. The winner was George Schuster, who represented the United States team and came from Buffalo. Only two other teams made it to the finish.
Schuster worked at the E.R. Thomas Motor Company. He was known as an excellent mechanic, and that was a skill that was important when driving 13,341 miles in those days of poor roads.
Schuster also was the first person to drive across the United States in winter via automobile. He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame on October 12, 2010.
--- Budd Bailey