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J Edmond, the forgotten hero


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#1 ensign14

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 15:07

Just looking at some of the results from the very early days. Marcel Renault's run in the Paris-Vienna race of 1902, where he won the thing outright in a voiture légère, is fairly well-known. However, what I did not know was that a chap called Edmond driving a Darracq was quicker than him all the way to Salzburg. Edmond lost an hour over the final part of the race and was slower than seven other cars in his class; I assume something must have gone wrong on this final stint, the Austrian roads were not so well maintained as the French ones.

Looking back at the other records, in an attempt to find his first name, I find he had had other good results as well. He seems to have made his bow in the Pau race in 1901, finishing second to Henri Farman, and repeated the result in the Nice-Salon-Nice event just five SECONDS behind after eight hours' driving (team orders? Staged finish?). Then in the Paris-Bordeaux he was 3rd in class and 5th in class in the Paris-Berlin, after setting third-fastest time in the first part, but suffering a three hour delay in the Aachen-Hanover stretch and followed up the Paris-Vienna performance with third in class at the Circuit des Ardennes, 12 minutes away from class victory (and he lost 12 minutes on the third lap, perhaps with a puncture).

The Paris-Vienna seems however to have been his high point. He had the chance of representing Britain at the Gordon-Bennett cup in 1904 in a Scottish-built Darracq but couldn't get past the eliminating trials thanks to mechanical problems (which seem to have destroyed all the Darracqs before they even got started). He was third and last at the Ardennes race in what seems to have been his last race for Darracq before he went to Renault for 1905. His Gordon-Bennett career never got off the ground as he was 10 places away from qualification via the French elimination race (an hour behind Szisz) but he did represent Renault in the first Grand Prix, retiring from midfield after being brutalized by the flying dust and hot oil. I can't see that he had any big races after then.

Now, this chap must presumably have been fairly well known at the time. His Paris-Vienna race might even have overshadowed Marcel Renault's had things gone slightly different. There are good photos of him in the Race Bugatti Missed book. He was even a Grand Prix driver.

Yet nobody seems to know his first name...

Does anybody know anything at all about him?

Edited by ensign14, 18 May 2009 - 19:31.


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#2 Tim Murray

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 18:41

I can't really help (except to correct your typo - 1902, not 1903, for Paris-Vienna), but Edmond's name has always stuck in my memory since I read about the 1906 Grand Prix at a very early age, over forty years ago. He didn't just suffer from dust and hot oil. His goggles were smashed by a flying stone and a sliver of glass entered his eye. Relief drivers were not allowed until the second day of the race, so the poor man soldiered on in agony for some hours, until the pain became too great and he had to give up.

It still makes me cringe thinking about it. I wonder if he sustained permanent eye damage. It could explain why his career appears to have come to an end after that race.

#3 ensign14

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 19:32

Typo corrected, thanks. He might have retired just because of the whole suffering element. I wondered if he left Darracq after the farce of his Gordon-Bennett entry where the cars were withdrawn as being unsafe; he had been bathed in hot oil in that race. Certainly he doesn't seem to have been as fast again.

#4 Doug Nye

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 19:46

The Renault 'depot' crew allegedly gave him a shot of cocaine before sending him back into that first Grand Prix. That doesn't seem to happen right often today... :stoned:

DCN

Edited by Doug Nye, 18 May 2009 - 19:47.


#5 robert dick

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 07:27

Edmond was entered by Renault in the 1907 GP de l'ACF, Dieppe. But he fell ill on the Sunday before the race and was replaced by Henry Farman. After that Edmond disappeared. Serious illness?
I didn't find his first name in contemporary publications. Even the "J." of J. Edmond is untraceable.

Another enigma: E. T. Stead.

#6 Nanni Dietrich

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 10:02

According to newspaper Journal de Genève, issue of 02 July 1902, "Chronique Sportive":

Vienne, 1er Juillet. La commission internationale des sports a classé définitivement comme suit les participants à la course Paris-Vienne:
1 - Marcel Renault, 26h. 10m. 42s.
2 - Henry Farman, 26h 31m. 30s.
3 - Mr. Edmond, 26h 40m. 16s.
4 - Maurice Farman, 26h 51m. 26s.
5 - Comte Zborowski, 27h 18m. 33s.
6 - Teste, 27h. 29m. 8s.

Newspaper Journal de Genève, issue 06 July 1902 "Chronique Sportive":

Le prix d'honneur du Prince Fuerstenberg pour le premiere voiture entrée à Vienne sans tenir compte du temps du percours à été décerné à M. Marcel Renault.
Le prix d'honneur du Comte Schonborn pour le seconde des grosses voitures a été attribué à M. Maurice Farman.
Le prix d'honneur du Comte de Pallaviccini pour le seconde des voitures légères est décerné à Mr. Edmond.

Mr. Edmond's given name unknown. :|




#7 Vitesse2

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 10:07

But on that evidence he was obviously a gentleman (ie an amateur) as opposed to Teste, the professional, who doesn't even rate a title, let alone an initial or first name.

#8 ensign14

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 10:26

I was thinking the opposite! On the basis that if he were a gentleman he would have been treated with more deference and his first name given at some point? In at least ONE contemporaneous report. With maybe a comment as to the source of his wealth or some other society note.

Darracq seem to have started with "works" entries in 1901, their first race appears to have been Pau that year, so was he a tester/mechanic? Would an amateur have bought a brand-new marque for a brand-new class rather than a voiturette (cheaper) or pukka racing machinery (victory possible)? If a wealthy amateur were not content with the touring car categories, why only buy a light car?

I've not seen anything to suggest that it was a pseudonym, but perhaps...was a first name ever given in the reports for Levegh? Or De La Touloubre?

#9 Vitesse2

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 10:36

Er, no. In that result we have titles - but no initials - for Count Zborowski and Mr Edmond, the gentleman amateurs, full names for Renault and the Farman brothers (who aren't dignified with "Mr" because they're "in trade"). And then Teste, who's just a chauffeur, the lowest of the low (apart from the riding mechanics of course ;) )

#10 ensign14

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 10:46

But Mr is a British appellation. He doesn't seem to have been British, Robert Kelly's TT Pioneers book has him speaking in pidgin English to avoid a forcible retirement.

I thought the full names were given to the Renault and Farman brothers to distinguish them from each other.

#11 Vitesse2

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 10:56

I don't have time to check Nanni's reference, but I'd be willing to bet he's put Mr as opposed to M for Monsieur in order to avoid confusion.;)

It's probably copied from an Austrian paper anyway. I'll have a hunt around tonight and see if he's Herr Edmond ....

#12 Gav Astill

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 12:01

But Mr is a British appellation. He doesn't seem to have been British, Robert Kelly's TT Pioneers book has him speaking in pidgin English to avoid a forcible retirement.

This seems to clash with your previous quote "He had the chance of representing Britain at the Gordon-Bennett cup in 1904 in a Scottish-built Darracq but couldn't get past the eliminating trials thanks to mechanical problems ". However I'm not sure that there is such a thing as a 'Scottish-built Darracq' either, I'll check that tonight.

#13 Nanni Dietrich

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 12:16

I don't have time to check Nanni's reference, but I'd be willing to bet he's put Mr as opposed to M for Monsieur in order to avoid confusion.;)

It's probably copied from an Austrian paper anyway. I'll have a hunt around tonight and see if he's Herr Edmond ....


I'm sorry :blush: I've added the given names of Henry and Maurice Farman copying from a pdf file (in the newspaper's final classification there are just H. Farman and M. Farman. Only Marcel Renault is listed with complete name and surname). In the articles Edmond is reported as "Mr. Edmond" or "M. Edmond (for Monsieur as you said, in French/Swiss usual way) but in the final classification only Edmond (and only Taste).

#14 wdm

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 12:25

However I'm not sure that there is such a thing as a 'Scottish-built Darracq' either, I'll check that tonight.

I don't have the exact dates to hand, but Glaswegian marine engineers G & J Weir built them under licence for a time.


#15 Tim Murray

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 12:34

However I'm not sure that there is such a thing as a 'Scottish-built Darracq' either, I'll check that tonight.

As wdm says, the 'Scottish-built Darracqs' were constructed by the Glasgow engineering firm of G & J Weir Ltd, who had not previously built an automobile. They received the drawings from Darracq only ten weeks before the weighing-in for the eliminating trials. Weirs then had to convert all the metric measurements into good old Imperial units before work could commence. Not surprisingly, they were not in a fit state to compete when the trials commenced, and, as Enisgn stated, poor Edmond and his riding mechanic were drenched in hot engine oil when a pipe fractured.

(Source: The Gordon Bennett Races by Lord Montagu.)

Edited by Tim Murray, 20 May 2009 - 13:07.


#16 ensign14

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 12:37

^ That was a good way to get extra entries in the G-B races, as the cars had to be made in a country. Mercedes were able to get two stabs by having some made up in Austria.

I don't suppose it WAS "M. Edmond", i.e. M for Maurice or Max or something, was it? Or maybe he was indeed from the beer-for-Lang class.

#17 Gav Astill

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 12:43

As wdm says, the 'Scottish-built Darraqs' were constructed by the Glasgow engineering firm of G & J Weir Ltd, who had not previously built an automobile. They received the drawings from Darracq only ten weeks before the weighing-in for the eliminating trials. Weirs then had to convert all the metric measurements into good old Imperial units before work could commence. Not surprisingly, they were not in a fit state to compete when the trials commenced, and, as Enisgn stated, poor Edmond and his riding mechanic were drenched in hot engine oil when a pipe fractured.

(Source: The Gordon Bennett Races by Lord Montagu.)

Fascinating stuff. A quick google tells me that Weir's are still going strong in Glasgow, mainly as pump manufacturers

#18 ensign14

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 13:01

Another enigma: E. T. Stead.

He was "a sturdy Yorkshireman, acclimatized to France by many years of residence, one of the very oldest of the old racing crowd". Per Jarrott (p. 167). Although the book The Race Bugatti Missed suggests his first name was Phil.



#19 Vitesse2

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 21:17

From "Pester Lloyd" (Vienna), Jul 1st 1902, apparently from the same source as "Journal de Genève" of the same date - verbatim:

1 Marcel Renault
2 Henri Farman
3 Edmond
4 Maurice Farman
5 Graf Zborowski
6 Teste
7 Baras
8 Hemery
9 Marcellin

Quoted as issued by the "International Sport Commission". Hmmm....



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#20 wdm

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 12:18

I think that, rather than "disappearing", our M. Edmond merely did what many other racing drivers do: he took to the skies, viz:

From the archives of Flight magazine...

Another Racing Man Flying.

M. EDMOND, who, it will be remembered, drove a Renault car in several of the big car races, is the latest recruit to the ranks of flyers, he having purchased a Henry Farman machine. As with the majority of Henry Farman's other pupils, M. Edmond's course of instruction was short. At his second attempt' by himself he flew 700 metres; this was increased to 4 kilometres at the next lesson, while in the next, twice this distance was covered.


He seems to get quite a few mentions over the following years - including a report of display flights at Brooklands - but sadly my lunch hour is over, and I'll have to continue the search tonight. :rolleyes:

(Unless anyone else can beat me to it, of course :lol: )

Edit: Still no sight of a forename, though :(

Edit#2: Although in one article he is referred to as M. Edmond, while other - British - pilots are addressed as Mr., which seems to prove that, if not French, he's certainly from a Francophone country...

Edited by wdm, 21 May 2009 - 12:21.


#21 Doug Nye

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 12:31

He bought a flying machine... DEFINITELY a toff then.

DCN

#22 Vitesse2

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 14:57

He bought a flying machine... DEFINITELY a toff then.

DCN

As a result of the flying meeting at St. Petersburg, the Russian Government have purchased the Henry Farman machines belonging to Christiaens and Edmond, and the latter has been engaged for two months, to instruct the military officers who will eventually use the machines.

Flight June 4th 1910

Edmond later bought a Bristol-Gnome, but disappears from the pages of Flight after November 1910.

[edit] Reports in Flight and The Times seem to indicate that Edmond (still no first name or initial, just variously M or Mr Edmond) was - in motor racing terminology - a "works" pilot for Bristols at the Lanark Meeting of 1910. I wonder if the records of the Bristol Aeroplane Company still exist ....

Edited by Vitesse2, 21 May 2009 - 15:09.


#23 Tim Murray

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 16:03

Wdm has found the link I was looking for - the one which definitely indicates that Edmond the flier and Edmond the racing driver were one and the same. Some more interesting links:

http://www.flightglo.....20- 0605.html

(from Flight October 1909)

There are quite a number of new single surface machines,
including the Hanriot type that is introduced by the
famous motor-car racing driver, and specimens of which
are to be handled in competition shortly by himself, his
old colleague Wagner, and Edmond.


http://acepilots.com...ors-as-of-1911/

This is a list of early aviators compiled by Claude Grahame-White in 1911 - many other well-known racing names on it.

EDMOND, M. — French aviator. Learned to fly a Farman biplane. Afterwards came, as an instructor, to the Salisbury flying school of the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company.


To add to Vitesse's finding:

[edit] Reports in Flight and The Times seem to indicate that Edmond (still no first name or initial, just variously M or Mr Edmond) was - in motor racing terminology - a "works" pilot for Bristols at the Lanark Meeting of 1910. I wonder if the records of the Bristol Aeroplane Company still exist ....


there is a photo here

and something else about his Darracq career:

http://www.lbvcr.com...Rally_intro.pdf

During the first years of automobile racing as was custom at the time, it was a newspaper that took the initiative of organizing the first road race in Portugal. A previous event that took place in the Belém Hippodrome, in August 1902, took from the Raid Figueira da Foz – Lisboa the privilege of being the first automobile race in Portugal. But, while the first event, which took place during a sport festival given by Sport Clube, was merely a curiosity, the Figueira da Foz – Lisboa race proved to be much more significant and thus changing the importance of the Automobile in Portugal.

(etc)

With ten participants at the start of the race – and the same number of hours to drive the route – the event was of great interest to all of those involved in it. The exchanging of the pilot in a Darracq cost the French pilot Edmond, disqualification from the race. He arrived at the finish line, in Campo Grande, one hour earlier than the second. Thus, the winner was the Italian Giuseppe Bordino, driving a Fiat which belonged to the Infante D. Afonso, brother of the King D. Carlos. It took him 7 hours, 29 minutes and 25 seconds to complete the 178 miles race. Arriving in second place was Afonso de Barros, in a Darracq and arriving in third place was António Paulo de Oliveira on a Buchet motorcycle.


Edited by Tim Murray, 21 May 2009 - 16:11.


#24 ensign14

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 16:27

With so many references to him, and no hint of a first name, I am definitely wondering whether he was pseudonymous. I know it was not the custom to include first names in reports but even a 5% hit rate for first names would have produced SOMEthing.

#25 robert dick

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 08:58

From "La Côte d'Azur Sportive", 31 March 1910, "Meeting d'Aviation de Cannes" :


Posted Image

#26 Doug Nye

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 22:38

Posted Image

Here's the man himself again - in one of the 1906 Grand Prix Renaults before the race at Le Mans.

Photo Copyright: Branger/The GP Library

DCN

Edited by Doug Nye, 27 May 2009 - 22:39.