old US 80 started its life as the course of the wild 1913 Great Desert Race from Los Angeles to Phoenix. In preparation for the race, Locke took Barney Oldfield over the road to show him how to navigate rough desert terrain.
That is why the 1908 New York to San Fran, the Paris to Peking, and the New York to Paris were etched in the cultural knowledge... new things that cars were, plus publicity, added to entertainment and a competition.. it's about as close to amazing as it got in 1908-1914. The times were full of historical firsts, heroes, and miracles. The first human flight in an airplane, the first roads, the first cars, etc etc