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1959 Daily Mail Paris to London Race


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#1 T54

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 16:55

In 1909 Lord Northcliffe offered a prize to the first aviator to fly across the English Channel. At that time nobody thought that such a feat was possible. French Aviator Louis Blériot was to meet the challenge and claim the prize in his Bleriot XIII aircraft.

Fifty years later, in July 1959, the Daily Mail newspaper sponsored a celebratory Air Race as a tribute to Louis Blériot and offered a total prize fund of 10,000, not a negligeable amount then.

Two of the people involved in the Race had connections with the original event: Mrs. Blériot, wife of the aviator, was the guest of honour at the prize giving ceremony and Viscount Rothermere, who was Chairman of Associated Newspapers, was the nephew of Lord Northcliffe.

Viscount Rothermere told spectators and entrants at the prize giving ceremony in Marble Arch, London that in demonstrating that a person could get from Paris to London in around forty minutes they were seeing what would become normal in a few years time. In that respect he was wrong – city centre to city centre is almost impossible in that time today!

There were an enormous number of entries to the race – from individuals to well organized teams. In eleven days just over 200 attempts were made to achieve the fastest time between the two capitals (both ways). It was reported that one entrant walked, cycled, motor cycled, motor railed, flew, used a speedboat and finally arrived in Paris in a horse drawn Victoria coach – clearly a fast time was not a priority by this entrant.

Part of the celebrations included a display over the cliffs near Dover by RAF Hunters trailing using coloured smoke - a tribute to Blériot.

Overall winner was Briton Maughan, a RAF pilot, who, if I recall, was hurried from the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees in the west of the French capital to Orly airport on the back of a modified racing motorcycle fitted with an extra seat and foot pegs, piloted by none other than racing champion Georges Monneret, then jumping into an English-Electric P1100 fighter plane to a military base near London (which?) and hurried again on the back of another fast bike to Marble Arch, or 344 km in 40 min 44 s. For his efforts he won £5000.

But these are mere recollections of 11 frantic days reported on radio, newspapers and mouth-to-ear in the streets of Paris and London, a fantastic adventure in the vein of the Dakar, where anything goes.
Blessed times all right...

I was myself facinated by this event and wanted to compete in the worst way, but my youthful wishfulness was condemned by financial poverty to just sit and watch.
Problem is, I can find very little on the Internet of publications about the actual entries and means of achieving the needed speed except for the winner and the slowest entry. Does anyone has any good info on this?
Regards,

T54

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#2 Henk

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 23:09

As a Dutch entry, Hans Hugenholtz (director of the Zandvoort circuit) teamed up with Jan Moll (test pilot with Fokker, well-known as co-pilot of the KLM DC2 that won the commercial section of the 1934 London-Melbourne air race), Rob Slotemaker (sports-car racing and rally driver) and Henk van Zalinge (tuner, who also designed and raced his own sports cars named Hirondelle).

Slotemaker drove Hugenholtz from Marble Arch to the military airfield Northolt (about 15 miles west of Central London) in a Hirondelle with Porsche 1600 Carrera engine.

Moll took over and delivered Hugenholtz at Le Bourget airport in a Fokker S14 jet trainer.

In his 3-cylinder two-stroke Hirondelle-DKW, Van Zalinge rushed to the Arc de Triomphe, where Hugenholtz was timed at 1:37:14.

#3 T54

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 00:19

Thanks Henk, it is a start! :up:
Anyone else please?
Regards,

T54 :wave:

#4 Vitesse2

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 01:18

Well, as Hans Hugenholtz is a TNF member, no doubt he'll be able to tell you more!

Unless I'm much mistaken, the London-Paris race was revived again, possibly in 1969? ISTR press and TV coverage from round about then. Fading memory tells me there were RAF, Royal Navy and other British forces teams, plus representatives of various newspapers.

#5 dolomite

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 01:29

Originally posted by Vitesse2
Well, as Hans Hugenholtz is a TNF member, no doubt he'll be able to tell you more!

Unless I'm much mistaken, the London-Paris race was revived again, possibly in 1969? ISTR press and TV coverage from round about then. Fading memory tells me there were RAF, Royal Navy and other British forces teams, plus representatives of various newspapers.


Isn't that the one where the RAF won by using a Harrier?

#6 Geoff E

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 09:20

Originally posted by dolomite


Isn't that the one where the RAF won by using a Harrier?


Yes http://www.wildcolle...oduct/CGAA32404

#7 Vitesse2

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 10:01

Ah - I said it was a fading memory! That was a trans-Atlantic race, on the 50th anniversary of Alcock and Brown's flight. On reflection - that's a remarkable leap forward! From crossing the Channel to crossing the Big Pond in just ten tears :)

Anyway, back to London-Paris .....

#8 dolomite

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 13:28

Yes, there was that as well, but I'm sure there was also a Harrier used in a race between Paris and London at round about the same time.

#9 D-Type

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 21:01

If I remember rightly, Stirling Moss was an entry. So was a chimpanzee!

#10 D-Type

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 21:04

Whoops! I've just re-read what I posted. I was trying to emphasise the variety of the entries. Not any similarities. :o

My apologies to Sir Stirling

#11 T54

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 23:28

I remember Merling Stoss was indeed, an entrant.

More please? :)

This was a fantastic event followed by virtually everyone in France and UK for nearly 2 weeks...

T54 :yawn:

#12 Ian McKean

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 02:05

Rupert Keegan's old boy who owned a cross Channel airline was involved, not personally but in an attempt to publicize the airline's planes that had front opening doors that a car could drive straight into. The names will probably come to me the minute I hit "send".

I followed it with great interest as a schoolboy. Are you sure it wasn't the Express? The Forces teams with motorbikes proved the most competitive.

#13 Coogar

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 08:02

Weren't they called 'Carvairs' ? Converted Douglas DC4s ?

#14 Rob29

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 10:33

Originally posted by Ian McKean
Rupert Keegan's old boy who owned a cross Channel airline was involved, not personally but in an attempt to publicize the airline's planes that had front opening doors that a car could drive straight into. The names will probably come to me the minute I hit "send".

I followed it with great interest as a schoolboy. Are you sure it wasn't the Express? The Forces teams with motorbikes proved the most competitive.

Mike Keegan ran British Air Ferries,who also sponsored a Formula Ford championship. Don't think the 'Express' ever got involved with air racing. They were mainly devoted to Silverstone untill they fell out with Bernie.

#15 D-Type

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 10:35

As far as I can remember Keegan's British Air Ferries operated Carvairs out of Southend Airport. The Carvair was a converted DC4. I forget whether the nose or tail opened.

And there was also Silver City Airways who flew from Lydd or Ashford with Bristol Freighters and Superfreighters. These were twin engined planes with clamshell doors on the nose. I think the freighter took 2 cars and the Superfreighter took 3.

Needless to say, both carriers would have sponsored entries. As they were set up to minimise the length of the flight it was not necessarily the quickest way from city centre to city centre.

#16 brianh

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 11:47

I read your article posted in January 2004, although there seems to have been no activity on the site since. As it happens I know one of the members of the BEA team that took part in the race. I could ask her to set down her recollections if you are still interested.

brianh.

#17 Graham Gauld

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 14:37

Well, as Hans Hugenholtz is a TNF member, no doubt he'll be able to tell you more!

Unless I'm much mistaken, the London-Paris race was revived again, possibly in 1969? ISTR press and TV coverage from round about then. Fading memory tells me there were RAF, Royal Navy and other British forces teams, plus representatives of various newspapers.



The Hans Hugenholtz who did the Air Race was the father of the TNF Hans Hugenholts. The father was better known as John Hugenholts who was circuit manager at Zandvoort and who designed various circuits all over the World including Suzuka with its flyover. Out of interest he also designed a layout for the proposed Polkemmet circuit in Scotland. His son is a very successful driver and has won the Tour Auto. He raced his Ford GT40 at Silverstone last weekend.

#18 hhh

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Posted 14 October 2009 - 19:51

My father managed to get a Dutch newspaper, Algemeen Dagblad, for which he tested cars, to sponsor the participation of a Dutch team in the 1959 Bleriot air race.
My father was the passenger who had to set the time, being driver in Paris and London in Dutch Hirondelle racing cars (built by Henk van Zalinge) and being flown in a Dutch-built Fokker S14 Jet/trainer.
Most `professional` teams did several attempts; due to a limited budget they did one attempt early on a Sunday morning from Paris to London.
Their time was 1 hr 01 min 25 sec: I still have the original certificate......
It was the only time my dad beat Stirling Moss in competition!!!!

In order not to loose too much time on the Periferique in Paris, when Henk van Zalinge saw two slow cars overtaking eachother in a tunnel (there were no barriers between lanes in those days), he quickly took the tunnel coming the other way to avoid them and keep his speed!

#19 962C

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Posted 14 October 2009 - 20:41

If I remember rightly, Stirling Moss was an entry. So was a chimpanzee!

According to this year's Goodwood Revival programme, Sir Stirling drove a Renault Dauphine on this occasion. That car was part of the celebratory parade on his 80th birthday.

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#20 fuzzi

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 09:03

According to one of my favourite books, "Racing an Historic Car" by Peter Hull

Vintage racer Martin Brewer "finished well up in the results using a vintage 4.5litre Bentley and a [Percival] Proctor. He claimed to have averaged 60mph between Marble Arch and Biggin Hill without exceeding the speed limit, in which case Hayes Common must have witnessed its first supersonic crossing by Bentley."

#21 Vitesse2

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 09:25

According to this year's Goodwood Revival programme, Sir Stirling drove a Renault Dauphine on this occasion. That car was part of the celebratory parade on his 80th birthday.

Entrants were apparently free to make as many attempts as they liked, but the only run by Moss reported in The Times was on the first day in an unidentified "sports car" (which doesn't sound much like a Dauphine). However, his exact route isn't mentioned, although a later report has Freddie Laker beating his time in a Rolls Royce, travelling via air ferry from Southend to Le Bourget: so perhaps it was a Dauphine!

Stirling's London-Paris time was 2h 45m 56s, returning in 2h 42m 07s. He claimed to have watched the film "Home Before Dark" while in Paris.

#22 Allan Lupton

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 10:27

One of my friends, having been part of a Hatfield Tech. team that drove a Ransomes Matador motor mower non-stop from Edinburgh to London used that mower from Marble Arch to an airfield (can't remember which, perhaps Biggin Hill) where the oldest Tiger Moth still airworthy took him to Paris (Villacoublay or Toussus-le-Noble can't remember) where their practice mower was waiting for him to drive it to the Arc.
He then did it again in the other direction.
Quite slow as I recall.
Another Hatfield Tech attempt used a home-made car, a home-made aeroplane (Turbie) and another home-made car. Can't remember which cars, but one may have been the Terrier owned by Brian Hart. . . .
Not as slow, but not very quick. . .

Edited by Allan Lupton, 15 October 2009 - 10:28.


#23 Vitesse2

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 10:41

One of my friends, having been part of a Hatfield Tech. team that drove a Ransomes Matador motor mower non-stop from Edinburgh to London used that mower from Marble Arch to an airfield (can't remember which, perhaps Biggin Hill) where the oldest Tiger Moth still airworthy took him to Paris (Villacoublay or Toussus-le-Noble can't remember) where their practice mower was waiting for him to drive it to the Arc.
He then did it again in the other direction.
Quite slow as I recall.
Another Hatfield Tech attempt used a home-made car, a home-made aeroplane (Turbie) and another home-made car. Can't remember which cars, but one may have been the Terrier owned by Brian Hart. . . .
Not as slow, but not very quick. . .

Only a passing mention of the motor mowers in The Times, but the second one you mentioned was described as "notably enterprising", costing the sum of £460. Driver/pilot a Mr D Mott.