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“If you’re not moving, you’re standing  still.”


Steve Trafton

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

After picking up Guillaume Marceau and his father at the Anchorage Airport, and after an extra day of engine tinkering and severe indigestion from ALF #1, a decision was made to trailer that classic-car for a ride back to Seattle. Well, it’s punishment you know. Here is the GPS link for the remaining ALF #4 so you can follow its progress. Steve is driving ALF #4 with Guillaume acting as navigator. The two other fellows will enjoy their views of Alaska in the Dodge Ram with trailer. There may still be downtime repair during the journey, so be forewarned. It’s not as if they are in the middle of nowhere with early 1900 cars you know…..oh…right. Well, it’s not as though they are in the middle of Mongolia you know.


Here is Guillaume trying to solve the overheating problem by feeding ALF #1 a bottle of Pepto Bismol.  



But nope.


ALF #1 is much too valuable to become a doorstop (although they threatened it by reminding it of this steam shovel they had seen the day before). So a decision was made to load the sick puppy on the trailer, and drive it back to Seattle.




Brother Byron and Wife Katherine said their goodbyes and winged their way back to civilization as Steve, Dwight, Guillaume and Rick were left to drive south to Seattle along the Alcan highway where traffic signals are just rough guidelines and arrival at your destination is not a foregone conclusion. 


Anyway, here are a few photos:

The proposed route for today.

You may want to look at their GPS destination (see the link above), then go over to Google Maps and

Browse the Street View Images to see what they are seeing (as below).



More when there’s more…



Peking to Paris Details

Although some of the Peking to Paris race details are more fully explained on the web site of The Endurance Rally Association, here are the facts about the two vehicle entries from The Black Horse Racing Team and Steve Trafton.



Image003Arriving in Long Beach on its way out to China, the 1925 American La France #4 was winched out of the car hauler onto a flat bed truck. It was then rolled off the ramp of the flatbed. Quite a tense operation. The ALF has 2 inches to clear on each side of the car hauler.




What is the schedule for the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge?


The cars start 1 minute apart. Since Trafton’s vehicles are numbered 1 and 4, they will start the race only 4-5 minutes apart. The route they follow is by map given at the beginning of the race and by GPS in Mongolia.


What other kinds of vehicles are entered?


Why are certain cars favored over others?


How did you decide on this race and why did you choose to move ahead?


As in other rallies, there are timed legs in the race. The winner overall is the car with the least deductions for the timed event.


There are some preparations for mechanical problems, but if a car breaks down in Mongolia it can ruin your day.




The Black Horse Racing Team made a few last minute changes to the two rebuilt American La France Speedsters. They now have cables to easily connect both cars’ batteries together. Why? In case one car needs a jump they can now charge one car without removing the floor and accessing the battery box of the other. They also installed a number of inverters to recharge the cell phones, laptops and camera batteries. Modernity intrudes.


And there were a few creature comforts installed to benefit the occupants who will need to drive 10-12 hours per day in order to complete the 300-400 mile legs.


Although the trip runs about 36 days there are three or four rest days, when drivers can work on their cars or take a rest from driving. There is accommodation in hotels in the larger cities. But what about remote areas?


Although most of the route does not have to contend with security issues, the group is encouraged to stay close to the others when traveling through unknown or potentially unfriendly territory. China, Mongolia, Russia and Siberia are generally safe. Belarus does not have the same negative issues of the Ukraine (and the political situation has changed this years’ route). Driving the larger cities will be more closely monitored. But what about protection from the weather?


We will follow Steve and Katherine, Tim and Dwight’s daily progress and post regular Blog Updates of the journey. Dwight (Ike) Trafton is providing team-updates through  email…i.e. when he can access a server. But there are some remote areas that are simply without communication. In Mongolia and Eastern Siberia especially, “broadband” is not a common word. But each car carries a satellite telephone, so in theory an emergency phone-call could be made from any point. If only Marco Polo had known about satellite phones at the time, he could have called ahead for pizza.


Most of the gasoline is trucked in along the route and costs about $6 to $8 per gallon. For vehicles that get 3.5 MPG, have 130 horse power, 1000 pounds of torque, and a weight of 8200 lbs each, this amounts to a lotta fuel.





ALF Leaves for China

The second rebuilt American La France (ALF) speedster was recently tested north of Seattle and made ready for transport to China. The upcoming Peking to Paris Motor Challenge takes place from June 12th to July 17th 2016. Shown below you’ll see the Number One vehicle in that race, driven by Steve Trafton and his wife Katherine. This rebuilt car will travel overland for 9000 miles with another 119 vehicles registered for that road rally. One of two virtually identical speedsters in the BlackHorseRacing team to make the overland journey, both were rebuilt from old fire engine chassis. The other model will be piloted by Trafton’s crew chief Tim Taylor, with Steve’s brother Dwight as the backup driver.


Here, Steve loads ALF#1 into the truck that will carry it to San Diego where it then will be loaded on a ship for China.


(Select first image to see them in closeup.)



Off To California For Road Testing


Watch these short video clips as Steve Trafton describes the vehicle that he is road testing before the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge Race in the summer of 2016.


Other questions are answered in audio clips below.




What do you expect to learn from this road test?


Why do you have two separate vehicles?


What’s the progress on the second one?





You mentioned both your brother Byron and your wife Katherine being with you for road testing.


Were there problems that you did not anticipate?



Are there major parts that you have fabricated yourself?


Give me the general specifications for the vehicles.



What has happened in this road test that you didn’t expect ?



On the next blog, more questions will be answered about why the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge was chosen.