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


Steve Trafton

Road Rally

Requiem for the Liver

From Ulaanbaatar

From Ulaanbaatar

Liver Eater’s Last Ride

Heartbroken and outta luck, Ike Trafton and Tim Taylor gave up the ghost on a lonely road in Mongolia. 

Ike Trafton sends the following post:

ow to load a 4 ton car without a winch or lift truck:

– Simply back up to an embankment


– Use a pick-up and a section of cable to control the cars roll (and block a high speed road in the process)


– tie it down with old cables through the wheels (you can always re-powder coat)


..and voila, finished!


Now for the 100 kilometer drive to Ulaan Baatar – hoping the Liver Eater doesn’t break loose under braking and take us out for what we did to her.


More updates later …


Final Vehicle Check

Final Vehicle Check


The list of Participants in the 6th Peking to Paris Motor Challenge is hefty, numbering 115 vintage cars from many countries and they’re all roaring to go.  Each car in the competition has a GPS tacker that is mounted on the car itself. For our web site visitors to view the tracking page, follow this link – where (if you scroll down) you will see all of the competitors listed.


Listing of Competitors

Listing of Competitors


To open the tracker for either Black Horse Racing car, click on the text or the picture for the #1 or #4 car (see arrows) and it will take you to your own tracking map.(Steve and Katherine Trafton are driving the #1 car named “Revenant”, while Ike Trafton and Tim Taylor are driving the #4 vehicle, named “Liver Eater”.


Tracking Close Up

Tracking Close Up


In the close-up (above), you can see where the cars are located on the map,


Tracking in Long Shot

Tracking in Long Shot


…or you can view an expanded street map (above) of their location by scrolling with your mouse wheel (hold the Ctrl key and then roll Forward on the wheel, or hold the Ctrl key and roll Back on the wheel). In the left column, you can click on any line to see where the cars were…or are…at the moment. And you can also change your overhead map-view to Satellite (see top left of map). Try it out when you can!



Meanwhile, here is the latest from Ike Trafton:IMG_6338










Here is a picture at our last breakfast in Beijing, which we are ready to see in the rear view mirror.

















This morning we repacked the “Revenant” (Car #1) and “Liver Eater” (Car #4), and prepped them for the safety and technical inspections.



Teddy the Teddy

Teddy the Teddy








Teddy the Teddy Bear has become the mascot for Black Horse Racing, and was present for inspections. Both cars passed the safety and technical inspections without issue. We received our navigation maps, tulip books, and official documents for the race after passing.


Finally the formal welcome-aboard briefing and dinner. All is Go for tomorrow.


We start the race at 0800 from the Great Wall of China.

Beijing Arrival

Flight Path to China

Flight Path to China



On June 7, the team left San Francisco for Beijing at 11:34a PDT.


Ike Trafton writes:


The United 747 flight was eleven hours, smooth and uneventful. There was clear weather across Manchuria and northern China, until we started our decent into the smog of Beijing. It reminds us of LA smog in the 70s.








We were met by a facilitator who insisted on helping to carry the clutch plate bag….

After the hour drive from the airport, we arrived at the Shangri-la Hotel near the Beijing Zoo.












Then, after scoping out the competition in the lobby (who also arrived early), we held a strategy session in the outdoor bar with a few bottles of Tsingtao.











We did a training hike down to a local park – not unlike Central Park or Green Lake in Seattle. This resulted in a possible next project for Black Horse Racing of crossing the Bering Strait in a giant ducky…fortunately Steve couldn’t find the owner, so this idea died…for now.













Meanwhile Tim was back in the room with visions of clutch plates dancing in his head…






…maybe he just had too many squid chips.






















This evening we get our Chinese drivers licenses; but until then, we did a bit of exploring down in the Forbidden City,


…and in Tianimen Square looking for those elusive tanks.



























The surprise of our explorations was that Katherine was a minor celebrity with the local girls wanting their pictures taken with her.












Katherine was quick on the pick-up with the “V” sign and the occidental grin.









A Chinese Police Briefing was attended by all rally participants, where we learned: red means stop; green means go; and don’t drink and drive. Our reward for listening attentively is our Chinese Driver’s Licenses. So much for today’s activities.


We had an interesting conversation with the driver of Car #5 – Max from Australia. He drove the 2010 Peking to Paris and indicated eight cars never made it out of China – except on the back of flat bed trucks. Apparently vehicle prep and testing are the early downfall of many starters.


From your Black Horse Racing Team, all’s well.

(Our Facebook page is @blackhorseracingusa. See

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.




Peking to Paris Roadster Nears Completion


In this series of photos, follow the progress of end-stage preparation before road testing our updated American LaFrance vehicle. The first of two similar Steve Trafton roadsters entered in the upcoming road rally, this version was initially rebuilt in Rockwall, Texas from an original 1925 fire engine chassis. Then it was hauled on a trailer to the northwest United States where it was painted and further prepped. Components were specially forged and more modern accessories were fabricated for the 9000 mile transcontinental journey to be held during the summer of 2016.


Earlier, this ALF roadster was driven a short distance. Now, more tuning and electrical work is taking place. The new transmission works fine. Brakes are being adjusted. The heavy steering will be evaluated over a longer distance.


So this American LaFrance vehicle will soon be road-tested by Steve and his wife Katherine in advance of the July 2016 Peking to Paris Motor Challenge. Meanwhile, an orientation meeting in London was recently held for participants in the road rally. We’ll report on that meeting in our next installment.



The first of two American LaFrance rebuilt roadsters arrives in Washington State.




After its arrival in the northwest, the first vehicle was prepped for painting:



This roadster was painted dark blue.


ALF Roadster Progress Before Road Testing

Follow the rebuilding of the first American LaFrance vehicle (of two) that will compete in the Summer of 2016 Peking to Paris Motor Challenge Race.  These photos show the ALF Roadster Progress to date:



This is the first start-up of the rebuilt ALF Roadster:



American LaFrance Startup

American LaFrance Engine Startup

 Vroooom Vrooom!
American LaFrance Engine Startup!

The 14.5 Liter La France engine comes to life after decades of silence! The sound is very much like a World War Two aircraft. We hope to have it tuned and in the first of two cars in about two weeks.



American La France Roadster

American La France Roadster



Note the La France insignias on the water intake manifolds

These photos show progress on the American La France Roadster as of March 15, 2014. Tim Taylor also talks about fuel consumption and its availability along the 9000 mile journey.

 Tim Taylor talks about fuel efficiency and the need to take gas filters along the route.

Peking to Paris Motor Challenge Progress

Peking to Paris Motor Challenge Progress

American La France Roadster


The two American La France Roadsters
being assembled for the 2016 Peking to Paris Motor Challenge Race are on schedule. Follow progress in these photos and recorded comments by Tim Taylor, in charge of rebuilding.

How far along is this project?



Two old (fire truck) vehicles are being re-built as roadsters for the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge of 2016.



We’ll have further progress updates and comments from Tim Taylor as the rebuilding process continues.



American La France Roadster Takes Form

American La France Roadster Takes Form

Here is our progress as of January 31, 2015.

The American La France Roadster (one of two) is being re-built in Rockwall, Texas.

Piston used in La France Road Rally Racing Roadster


This is a synopsis of what has been done to date. We will update this page from time to time so you can follow the progress!


Building the Road Rally Racing Roadster

Building the Road Rally Racing Roadster

Peking to Paris 2016

Road Rally Racing Roadster


Building the Road Rally Racing Roadster: After the 2010 Bonneville Land Speed Record adventure the Black Horse Racing Team set about coming up with the next challenge we would undertake. We settled on three possibilities.

  1. Another Bonneville Speed Record
  2. Vintage Formula One Racing with our 1991 Ferrari F1 car
  3. Participate in a major long distance Endurance Road Rally

The Bonneville idea was appealing and we certainly had the experience and team to build a new car and try for another, even faster record. We even researched what it would take to build a 350 mph plus car to race in 2015 and 2016. But land speed racing is a very “lonely” one person oriented sport. Even though the team gets to participate in building the car and preparing it for a record run, only one person gets to drive and experience the actual race. No…… Bonneville would have to wait.

Vintage F1 racing certainly has its appeal, but is fabulously expensive and it is also very driver oriented. So many people would spend thousands of hours working on a very temperamental car so one person can drive around a road course. That’s not to say that we won’t take the Black Horse F1 car to the track for fun, but as a goal and prolonged endeavor it leaves something to be desired.

So at the suggestion of Tim Taylor, our team leader, we decided to enter two cars in the 2016 Peking to Paris Motor Challenge.

Once the decision was made we had to settle on what cars to enter. We wanted something durable, because of the demands of a race that covers over 9000 miles, crosses the Gobi desert, Siberia and Russia, and the Alps before finishing at Paris. We wanted something unusual and interesting because it would be a complete departure from anything we have worked on in the past. We wanted something that would continue to be fun to drive on long distance tours after the big race. Finally we wanted something vintage, pre-war with some panache!

We considered a couple of old 1920s or 30s Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Morgans, Chevrolets, Fords etc.

After a lot of consideration we settled on two early American La France Speedsters. These 14.5 liter, 18 foot long, 7500 lb. cars fit the qualifications nicely. Often nicknamed the “Beast” or “Brutus” they started life as American La France fire trucks built in Elmira, New York. During the 1920’s, a number of car enthusiasts bought the bare chassis from the factory and converted existing fire trucks into “Speedsters” by re-bodying them with custom coachwork.


Road Rally Racing Roadster



Late in 2013 and early 2014 Tim searched the country for enough of these old fire trucks to construct two of these speedsters for the P to P Rally. We also decided that my wife Katherine and I would drive one entry, a 1915 and Tim and my brother Dwight would drive the other, a 1925 in the 2016 race.


Road Rally Racing Roadster

Road Rally Racing Roadster

In early 2014 the original trucks were torn down to the frames, the engines were pulled and the drive train dismantled. The frames were sent to the sand blaster and taken down to bare metal, examined for cracks or any defects and then painted with epoxy primer.


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