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History Comes Alive in Recreation of Intercontinental Auto Race

Adopting the character of his great-grandfather (beneath a photo of the real-life George N. Schuster), Jeff Mahl begins his first-person reminiscence.
Adopting the character of his great-grandfather (beneath a photo of the real-life George N. Schuster), Jeff Mahl begins his first-person reminiscence.
After donning a period-appropriate coat, Jeff Mahl settles in for a engaging re-enactment of a historical journey.
After donning a period-appropriate coat, Jeff Mahl settles in for a engaging re-enactment of a historical journey.
Fresh from a tour of the college's automotive labs, Jeff Mahl shares his favorable impression.
Fresh from a tour of the college’s automotive labs, Jeff Mahl shares his favorable impression.

The path from New York to Paris traveled through Williamsport on Tuesday afternoon, as the proud descendant of an international automotive legend visited Penn College. In a presentation titled “The Great Auto Race,” guest speaker Jeff Mahl recreated his great-grandfather’s winning 1908 performance behind the wheel of a Thomas Flyer. The record-setting excursion began in Times Square that February and ended in late July, crossing the Pacific by steamer when conditions scuttled the original plan to drive across the frozen Bering Strait. At the onset of his talk, partially based on childhood memories of ancestor George N. Schuster, Mahl shared a bit of non-automotive advice: “If you’re fortunate enough to still have your grandparents, talk to them,” he implored his Klump Academic Center Auditorium audience. “Take advantage of that.” On the basis of a School of Transportation Technology tour, he added that Penn College automotive students are blessed with top-notch facilities and faculty: “You have a rare opportunity,” he said, likening the college’s automotive restoration technology major to preservation work done on the Flyer by casino pioneer Bill Harrah. “So few places offer this kind of training.” After the presentation, a reception in the Thompson Professional Development Center allowed for informal interaction among Mahl and attendees. Both events were part of a lecture series named for William C. Butler, who served as Penn College’s dean of hospitality from 1994 until his December 2002 death – and whose passions included ownership of a 1931 Auburn.

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