Welcome to the Cmolik family blog.  This website details the various activities and adventures of Russ and Ellen Cmolik, family and friends.

In 1907, a French newspaper sponsored a motor car race from Beijing to Paris. Not to be outdone by the French, in 1908 an American newspaper created The Great Race from New York to Paris via Beijing. There were six motor cars entered, of which three made it to Paris. The American entry (a Thomas Flyer) was declared the winner over the German entry after several adjustments were made to the running times for various reasons as justified by the Race adjudicators.

The 2008 Great Race was to be a modern celebration of motor transport on the 100th anniversary of the 1908 Great Race by following the same route with two classes of vehicles – vintage and future fuels divisions.

I picked up my usual armful of reading material in 2006 as we were flying to South America to visit Tina and Justin. An obscure two line recital describing The 2008 Great Race caught my eye.  By the spring of 2007, The Great Race people had accepted our application as a ‘Future Fuels’ bio-diesel entry. Now to find a vehicle!

(Please read ‘The Vehicles’)

We had the Range Rovers in our hands by the middle of March, 2008 and were finalizing the break-in routine by mid-April for the late May, 2008 start in New York when we received a message that an urgent conference call was to be conducted by the Great Race organizers. The gist of the call on the following day was that the Chinese Government had recalled the Great Race permits and the race would be postponed until after the Beijing Olympics.

Subsequently,  through the early summer of 2008 we would talk intermittently to the Great Race people about the new start date. Ironically, we received a call from the Great Race organization while we were in Beijing for the Olympics in August, 2008 that the Great Race organizing Corporation was going Chapter 11, Bummer!

More discussion through the fall and winter of 2008 culminating in a telephone call in mid-February of 2009 during which it was confirmed that the organizers were unable to guarantee that the Great Race was going to happen in 2009.

Being as how the vehicles were in Canada on a temporary permit that expired at the end of May, 2009, we polled our team to see if they wanted to go it alone. With only one exception, there was an enthusiastic positive verdict that we should do the trip roughly along the same route as had been planned, but we would make it more of an adventure excursion over a longer period of time and we would expand the team by adding more ladies; we ended up with a mostly couples event to take place over five months covering the better part of 20,000 km through China, Mongolia, Russia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Germany, France, Belgium and The Netherlands.

After much to’ing and fro’ing with MIR Corporation (our Seattle based logistics provider) and out revised team, we finalized a schedule that would see us start in Beijing, China on June 17, 2009 and end in Moerdijk, Netherlands in mid-November, 2009. We would do the event in three sections of approximately 6 weeks each with a 10 day rest at home between each section; Ellen and Russ would do the whole trip and we would cycle in our team in groups of 4 to 6 persons for 10 to 12 day legs. Sounds easy if you say it fast. Each replacement team was to be staged at their starting point a couple of days before they joined us and the team being replaced would stay over at their departure point at least one day, so there would be an overlap of at least a couple of days; and some of the crew change locations were not in places that you would recognize. Our youngest crew member would be one month (yes, two of our crew weren’t yet born until imminently before their China section (our newest grandchildren) – so getting birth certificates, passports and visas was a scramble) and the oldest would be 81 (Ellen’s Dad – Til).

Our profound thanks to Land Rover, UK; Conrico, UK; MCL Motors, Vancouver; 4Refuel, Langley; Transport Canada, Ottawa; ICBC, Vancouver; Pacific Customs Brokers, Surrey; Wilson Beck Insurance, Burnaby; Chubb Insurance, Toronto; CSA Transport, Delta; MIR Corporation, Seattle and many others that helped in educating and assisting us in organizing the event.


  1. Hi Ellen!
    Will be in Victoria with my daughter Jordan next week and thought to look you up but it seems that you are on the road…again!!!
    I love it!! Love to live vicariously through you and your family!

    Can you believe it…the class of 70 is turning 60 next year! Where does the time go?

    lost my harddrive and hence all contacts so please send me your email address if you get this. would love to get together and catch up again.

    I’ll be in Richmond for the better part of next month. My father is not fairing well but hangs on.

    Cheers and safe travels!!! Karen

  2. Dear Mr and Mrs Cmolik, nice to see your wonderful trip!
    You visited a lot of beautiful places. I would like to do the same…. but for now… it’s very difficult.
    Next summer we are planning a tour in California, some parks and maybe a little tour in Vancouver.
    In case, we will come to say hallo to you.
    Maybe in your next trip you come to Italy… if so and if you have time, it would be nice to have you here, just for few days…
    My best to all of you, thanks for you kind words.

    Paola Vertaglia

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