|Glen Duthie, left, and Allan Cullen will race at the fifth Peking to Paris Motor Challenge in May. They're hoping to raise $250,000 for the UBC's brain research centre.|
Duthie is racing the car in the fifth Peking to Paris Motor Challenge, which will take 100 vintage cars from over 26 countries on a 33-day race spanning over 10,000 miles across continents. But Duthie isn't just doing the race for an adrenaline rush - he's hoping to raise money for a good cause.
"It's going to be a hell of a challenge, but it's doable and I'm doing it to raise money for Parkinson's disease," Duthie said.
Duthie's wife Marcia was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1997, and after reading about the race in a magazine last year, Duthie thought he would take his passion for racing and enter the rally.
"I initially wanted to take my wife's 1960 Porsche 356, but last summer we found a 1939 Cadillac La Salle in Toronto and thought it would be the perfect car. It's got solid American iron and a flathead v8 engine - which essentially makes it bulletproof," said Duthie.
He leaves for China on May 26 and the race starts at the Great Wall of China on May 28. At the first Peking to Paris in 1907, five cars left Peking and the race was won by Prince Borghese of Italy in 60 days, in a 1907 Itala. The route that he'll be driving on is similar to the original route. The car will travel from China to Mongolia, criss-cross the Gobi Desert for 10 days, go through Russia, Siberia, and many other European countries before arriving at the Place Vendome, Paris on June 29.
And Duthie thinks his car can make it - especially through the Gobi Desert.
"It's the most remote area of the world and the fuel in Mongolia has an octane reading of 70 - which means your engine has to be able to handle poor quality fuel. But I think our flathead v8 will be ideal," he said.
He's done a lot to prepare the car. He's put in an auxillary electric fuel pump and has a spare carburetor, spare distributor and spare suspension and steering parts.
"When we pull into Paris there's going to be a big celebration. My wife is going to be there - and we plan on winning the race," he said.
Duthie will be driving the car, while his friend Allan Cullen, also a UBC engineer, will be doing the navigating. They've got a yellow brick tracker on the car, so people can check out where in the world the car is on their website.
But most importantly, Duthie is looking for donations because he wants to raise money for brain research. The B.C. Parkinson Society connected him with UBC's Brain Research Centre and all of the money raised will go the the brain research centre. He's hoping to raise at least $250,000.
"It's so important for people to understand that by 2020, researchers believe that brain disease will overtake heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death and disability in Canada. If that's not enough to wake us up, then I don't know what is,"
"The easy thing is racing a car across Siberia. The hard part is living with Parkinson's or Alzheimers," he said.
For more information on Duthie's adventure, visit: www.startanevolution.ca/pekingtoparis