AND THEY'RE OFF!
The long awaited day, New York City, Times Square, October 18, 2008.
Vintage cars all!
Celebrating 100 years of the 1908 Great Race.
Final stop...the Ferry Building, San Francisco, on November 7, 2008.
For a while it seemed the celebration might not happen. However, Luke Rizzuto’s grit, tenacity, and life-long dream will drive the celebration of the greatest automobile race in automotive history. Just days away from the New York City departure, Luke whose love of all cars Chevrolet will be driving his rare 1918 Chevy D Series. Jeff Mahl, great-grandson of George Schuster, (winner of the grueling 1908 race), riding with Luke.
It was the 1908 New York to Paris Great Race that fired Luke’s imagination for many years. He was determined to participate or replicate some or all of that arduous race. He even dreamed of extending it to Greenland and Iceland! Knowing Luke, one day he may do it.
Now 100 years later, school children, police escorts, historical societies, and vintage car enthusiasts are awaiting the caravan’s arrival to towns along the original North American race route. Some will join the caravan, others will cheer, all will participate in automotive history.
Luke Rizzuto was born, raised, and is living in the Santa Cruz mountains of Los Gatos, California. His automotive passion has strongly influenced his life. Over the years he has raced his Chevy’s and nurtured his dream to follow George Schuster’s original route across this great country.
Luke is a hardworking housing contractor, husband, and father. He has given a helping hand to people all his life. Now, he is specializing in accessible home remodels to help those with great needs. He is respected and loved by his family and many friends. Many have supported his efforts to live his dream! All will be with him in spirit as he drives into automotive history this October.
Helping make this happen are a fellow group of race enthusiasts around the world who were poised and willing to offer their help to bring this event to fruition. These were the folks who cheered Luke on and offered their assistance in pulling the event together on very short notice and with a non-existent budget.
Judi Quan-Rizzuto, Luke’s sister-in-law has been a major driving force in researching the route, developing the itinerary and a list of accommodations, then hosting endless dinners for Luke and wife, Joan-E, over which final logistics were planned.
Jeff Mahl has served as the event’s national publicity ambassador, spreading the word, directing interested parties to contact Luke with their inquiries.
Susan and Terry Mast, good friends of Luke, have worked diligently in helping to keep Luke's dream alive, writing grants, requesting help from influential friends, using their writing skills, and generally offering encouragement.
Ray Fowler, a Historical Illustrator from Alberta, Canada, who helped produce the Great Race documentary, has agreed to be the team videographer. His experience in television and film productions will be of great value in professionally documenting the day-to-day experiences and challenges of the caravan.
Stay tuned as The Longest Auto Race Centennial unfolds. If you can’t jump in your car and join us on the road, there’s no reason you can’t participate by following our adventures on the road via the "Images from the Road" page.