The winner of the 1907 Paris to Peking endurance race
The 1907 ITALA mod. 35/45 HP won the prize of a magnum of Mumm champagne. The race went without any assistance through country where there were no roads or road-maps. For the race, camels carrying fuel left Peking and set up at stations along the route to give fuel to the racers. The race followed a telegraph route so that the race was well covered in newspapers at the time. Each car had one journalist as a passenger, with the journalists sending stories from the telegraph stations regularly through the race.
The 9,300 mile race was kicked off by a challenge by a newspaper "What needs to be proved today is that as long as a man has a car, he can do anything and go anywhere. Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?"
It was held during a time when cars were fairly new, and went through remote areas of Asia where people were not familiar with motor travel. The route between Peking and Lake Baikal had only previously been attempted on horseback. The race was won by Italian Prince Scipione Borghese of the Borghese family, accompanied by the journalist Luigi Barzini, Sr. He was confident and had even taken a detour from Moscow to St Petersburg for a dinner which was held for the team, and afterwards headed back to Moscow and rejoined the race. The event was not intended to be a race or competition, but quickly became one due to its pioneering nature and the technical superiority of the Italians' car driven by Count Scipione Borghese, winning by three weeks. These sporting successes helped sales dramatically, the company continued to grow. The company experimented with a range of novel engines such as variable stroke, sleeve valve, and "Avalve" rotary types
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peking_to_Paris and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itala