When the London Daily Mail invited readers to compete in a $28,000 race between London's Marble Arch and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, sporting instincts on both sides of the English Channel were tweaked. Contest rules allowed all types of transportation, and during the last fortnight 120 contestants tried just about all of them.
The race commemorated the 50th anniversary of Louis Blériot's pioneer air crossing of the Channel, and one man, Jean Salis of France, tried Blériot's way again in a bamboo-and-piano-wire replica of his ancient monoplane. A 55-year-old woman competitor, after employing a motorcycle, a plane and a car, trotted steadily for nine hours, nourished by grass, and clutching a pet tortoise. She lost her way in Paris and finished outside the 13-hour time limit. Deighton Millar, a London solicitor, set off for Paris in black bowler and tweed suit. Traveling by motor car and plane, he made no remarkable time, but his announced intention "to come in looking like a perfect English gentleman" was entirely successful.
A French model and sport parachutist, Colette Duval, vowed "Today I am France," and scurried from Paris to London by motorcycle, helicopter and jet. But both she and an English roller skater were dogged by bad luck ("Sand in the bearings—that's the trouble, old boy," said the skater), and neither set any records. And no more successful were the RAF pilot who leaped en route from a boat to a shear legs apparatus and the bespectacled youth whose hopes rode a grass cutter. Best time by a civilian (41 minutes 41 seconds) was set by Eric Rylands, who used 30 assistants and a seconds-saving ramp to his jet for second place. First place (and $14,000) went to Charles Maughan, an RAF squadron leader, whose motorcycle-helicopter-jet-helicopter-motorcycle ensemble whisked him from Paris to London in 40 minutes, 44 seconds—an average of 315 mph for the 214 Arc-to-Arch miles.
CLUTCHING PASSPORT, WINNER MAUGHAN DARTS FOR WAITING RAF HELICOPTER
IN RICKETY REPLICA OF BLERIOT PLANE SALIS FLUTTERS OVER ENGLAND'S LYDD AIRPORT
RYLANDS, 50 YEARS OLD, SPRINTS UP 12-FOOT PLANK RUNWAY AND INTO HUNTER JET
IMPECCABLE MILLAR, RAF LIEUT. COMMANDER IAN MARTIN AND GRASS-EATING SCIENTIST RUSH THROUGH THEIR PACES AT TOP SPEED POWER MOWER RIDER, MODEL DUVAL (JUMPING OFF SKIDDING CYCLE) AND SKATER WERE ALL HINDERED BY MECHANICAL MISHAPS