On your mark . . .
Lake Elmo Leader (Minnesota) - published march 26, 2008
In 1908, few people could be convinced that a new contraption for transportation would be a viable replacement for horse and carriage or the railway.
Now, 100 years later, Americans especially could hardly live without their automobiles.
To celebrate the anniversary of the Greatest Race of 1908, in which 17 men from France, Germany, Italy and the United States met in New York City to be the first to Paris, France, the Great Race 2008 is planned.
The original race ended July 30, or 169 days after the start, when the U.S. team driving a 1907 Thomas Flyer driven by George Schuster entered the City of Lights.
This year, Pat and Ali Schulte will join with 34 other teams and race around the world to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Greatest Race.
This year's race will begin in New York City May 30 and travel 22,000 miles to Paris finishing Aug. 2. That distance includes 12,500 miles on land and about 9,700 miles in a flight for cars and teams from North America to Asia.
Drivers and passengers will cross through 12 countries: The United States, Canada, People's Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and France.
Cost to enter the race was more than $100,000 per two-person team. The final purse for the winner will be announced closer to the race, said race spokesman Mike Ewing.
In 2008, classic cars and motorcycles that are at least 25 years old and modern cars, powered by renewable-fuel or new technology such as hybrids are eligible to participate.
The Schultes, originally from Washington Country, entered their 1965 Porsche 356C for the competition.
"It's a great little car," said Pat Schulte. "The car's been in our family since 1972. It's actually the car I was brought home from the hospital in when I was a baby."
Schulte's mother owned the car originally, but she sold it to his uncle. The uncle owned the car for more than 30 years before Schulte's mother, who lives in Portland, Ore., bought it back.
"She gave it to me as a family heirloom," he said. "Now it's my job to use it and keep it in the family. I think my uncle's cringing a little that I'm driving it so much."
Last year the couple drove the Porsche 9,000 miles. That mileage includes participation in the 2007 Great Race across the United States. The Schultes won the Rookie Class in that event, coming in nearly 100 points ahead of the nearest rookie finisher.
Points are earned in the Great Race through a precise scoring method. Each competitor is given very specific driving instructions, down to the miles per hour to drive and how long to stay at a stop sign.
The Schultes learned quickly who needs to be in the driver's seat, Pat Schulte said. "It's a lot of maps and calculating for the navigator," he said. "I'm the navigator, Ali's the driver. We learned that early on that I'm a bit better with directions. Following the map and doing the map is more my strength."
Married 10 years, the Schultes originated in the St. Croix Valley area. Pat is from Maplewood and Ali's family still lives in Lake Elmo. They met at Tartan High School and married after college.
In 2003, the couple bough a 35-foot catamaran and headed out with dreams of sailing around the world. "We just went to Florida and bought a boat in one day and threw ourselves into it whole," Pat Schulte said. They had little sailing knowledge, but they had determination to succeed.
Along the way, they chronicled their adventures on their website, www.bumfuzzle.com, and earned the mocking and jibes of other more experienced sailors.
"We were at a point in our lives where we were 28 and everyone we knew was having kids and moving to the suburbs and we weighed that option with traveling around the world. The world won," Pat Schulte said.
After three and a half years in the close quarters of their sailboat, the Schultes should have no problems with the couple month's trip around the world in their car.
"We are a close couple anyway," Pat Schulte said. "We're the kind of couple that doesn't go to the store without the other one. It's just the way we are."
Pat Schulte, now 34, worked at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange after college. He said he "always wanted to be a trader" and he took a job as a clerk at the exchange.
He then went into business for himself and he and Ali moved to Chicago where Pat was a soybean trader.
Ali worked as a legal and financial secretary.
Life was pretty "normal" for the couple, Ali Schulte said, until about five years ago.
"We've never really been 'fly by the seat of your pants,'" she said. "We did everything kind of traditional. For our honeymoon, we took a Carnival Cruise. We took weekend road trips to St. Louis or Detroit. I don't know where this came from. I don't know what happened. I have no idea," she said.
"It was truly sitting around and trying to decide what to do," Ali added. "We felt like we hadn't lived yet. Truly it was a one-night talk and it blossomed and now we can't imagine settling down at all."
Of course, the Schultes know they may run out of energy one day or have to return to work.
"We know someday we're going to say 'Oh my gosh, we're done.' We're going to be exhausted," Ali said.
"We'll be back to work, Pat Schulte said. "We're not retired, but we're living our lives and having fun and we figure we can go back to work at some point.
"At least we're having fun. We try not to take ourselves so seriously. We have found that taking risks have always worked out for us in the end and it's always worked out for the best.
"If we'd taken the safe route, I don't know where we would have been, Pat Schulte continued. "We've always enjoyed the adventure."
Keep up with Pat and Ali's adventures and post messages to them by going online www.bumfuzzle.com.