MIR’s Overland Expeditions: Driving Siberia, and Beyond

MIR’s Overland Expeditions: Driving Siberia, and Beyond

One of the most challenging – and satisfying – of the projects I love at MIR Corporation is planning and overseeing imaginative overland expeditions to MIR’s 35 countries.

Imagining the Journey with MIRSince MIR’s inception in 1986 we have been offering scheduled group tours to places “far from the familiar,” ranging from Siberia, China and Tibet to Central Asia, Iran and North Korea. Yet at the same time I also have been creating custom, handcrafted private journeys for groups and individuals based on their specific interests, destinations, and timelines.

Many go far beyond one country or one region: they involve multiple countries; riding in cars, Land Rovers, motorcycles and even vintage automobiles; complex paperwork and documentation; detailed itineraries and accommodations; and what I like to call MIR’s “logistical wizardry” from our stellar on-the-ground support staff. These truly are momentous, unforgettable overland expeditions limited only by one’s own imagination.

Hong Kong Land Rover Club treks along the Silk Road; this stop in Bukhara, Uzbekistan is a highlight<br>Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Hong Kong Land Rover Club treks along the Silk Road; this stop in Bukhara, Uzbekistan is a highlight
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

Some of our clients who have imagined such epic adventures with MIR include:

  • Motorcyclists on long cross-country treks through Russia and Central Asia, like the GlobeRiders’ biennial “World Tour” for 55 days across six countries.
  • Vintage car enthusiasts in their automotive “World Race 2011” from Beijing to Paris, echoing the grueling, historic 1908 New York-to-Paris auto rally.
  • Russ and Ellen and dozens of their extended family and friends, traveling up to 99 days through Russia, the Silk Road, Central Asia, South Caucasus, Balkans, Turkey, Iran and beyond. For more than six years MIR has been working with this bold family on a series of handcrafted overland journeys in their 4×4 vehicles.
  • Hong Kong Land Rover Club, with MIR most recently creating the itinerary and handling the logistics for 54 members driving from the China/Kazakhstan border across Central Asia, the South Caucasus, across Turkey, ending in Istanbul.

(click on photo to see larger version)


MIR President Douglas Grimes organized segments of around-the-world auto journeys that followed in the tire tracks of this winning 1908 "Great Race" car, the 1907 Thomas Flyer <br>Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

MIR President Douglas Grimes organized segments of around-the-world auto journeys, inspired by the 1908 “Great Race” and the winning car, this 1907 Thomas Flyer
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

As MIR’s roster of these distinctive – and often daring – overland expeditions continues to grow, I am honored and awed by those who share their stories with me and with MIR: their challenges, highlights, lessons learned, and lives transformed through travel.

Winning car at the start of the 1908 "Great Race:" American-made Thomas Flyer <br>Photo credit: Bain Collection, Library of Congress

Winning car at the start of the 1908 “Great Race:” American-made Thomas Flyer
Photo credit: Bain Collection, Library of Congress

Driving into HistoryMIR’s most recent and perhaps most ambitious endeavor was the 12,000-mile segment of an around-the-world tour by vintage car – a 1928 Plymouth Roadster – from Japan to Paris, motoring through China, Siberia, Russia, the Baltics, and on to France.

Two modern-day pioneering drivers, Luke Rizzuto and John Quam, faithfully re-created the around-the-world route of the 1908 “Great Race” won by American George Schuster in his Thomas Flyer, a race that transformed the automotive industry. Accompanying them on this leg of their “Longest Race” journey were retired Air Force officers Eileen Bjorkman and Leo G. Janssens, driving a bit more modern vehicle – a 2008 GMC.

This 1928 Plymouth Roadster became a goodwill ambassador wherever they drove, especially in Siberia <br>Photo credit: Eileen Bjorkman

This 1928 Plymouth Roadster became a goodwill ambassador wherever they drove, especially in Siberia
Photo credit: Eileen Bjorkman

The four generously agreed to tell their stories of this truly great race, in their own words. MIR is grateful to have helped play a part in their automotive overland expedition, and we’re honored to share their imaginative adventures here.

(Top photo credit: Leo Janssens – Even Russian traffic cops unabashedly pull over the 1928 Plymouth Roadster for photo ops)

PUBLISHED: February 2, 2015

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