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The years 1894 to 1897

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#1 Egon Thurner

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Posted 18 November 2000 - 17:26

A few weeks ago Michael M and I started to discuss a year-by-year account from the earliest beginning of car-racing history. We started with the first few years up to 1900 and it was fantastic to see, how much more two people can bring to light in comparisation to one of us alone. Less time and our Ferrari-project was the reason for interrupting this project, but now I will take a new run, and I will do it here. Only a short explanation of what I have in my mind. I want to start a series of topics, every of it covering one year of motorracing. And this is the introduction.

Motorracing ....
When did it start? A question, not easy to find an answer.

We all know the first competition for motor-cars from Paris to Rouen in the year 1894. It was not planned as a race. The instigator, Piere Giffard, 'Chef des Informations' of the newspaper 'Le Petit Journal' and friend of Emile Levassor was all but a motor-freak. He was known for his sceptic view of the reliability of 'this new horseless carriages', but he also recognized the chance of boosting the sales of his papers by reporting a motoring event. So he organized a reliability trial. Well, De Dion with his powerfull steamer took the lead - and the first race was going on. Because the competitors made it to a race from the beginning. And immediately after this first motoring competition and the decision of the jury to give the first prize not to De Dion for the fastest drive, De Dion started his efforts to set up a 'real race'. He invited for a meeting at his home and finally welcomed his friend De Chasseloup-Laubat, Pierre Giffard (Le Petit Journal), Levassor, Peugeot, Serpollet, and other motoring luminaries.

They formed a committee to organize a race in the following year from Paris to Bordeaux and back, the first car arriving Paris to be the winner. (BTW: Finally, again the fastest was not the winner!) Had this been the first race? Maybe, but what then had been the Event Torino - Asti - Torino on May, 18 the same year, ?

You see, not easy to fix it.

Next question: The cars, can we call them racingcars? The cars were raced, so they were racingcars, without any doubt. But of course (most of them) had not been built for racing. They had been ordinary 'production cars'. So we can sum up, that motor racing began with 'productioncar racing' - and the cars were the true ancestors of todays 'sportscars' or 'prototypes' - but not the forerunners of high level formulae.

First 'real' racingcars will appear in the year 1898 - but this will be the next topic. Let me list now some interesting facts:

The first events:

1894-07-22 F Paris-Rouen ( Paris - Rouen )

1895-05-18 I Turin-Asti /B ( Torino - Asti )
1895-06-11 F GP de l'ACF: Paris - Bordeaux /B ( Paris - Bordeaux )
1895-11-02 US Times-Herald Expo Run ( Chicago - Waukegan )
1895-11-28 US Times-Herald Contest ( Chicago - Evanston )

1896-05-09 F Bordeaux - Langon ( Bordeaux - Langon )
1896-05-24 F Bordeaux - Agen /B ( Bordeaux - Agen )
1896-05-30 US Cosmopolitan Road Race ( New York - Irvington )
1896-07-11 B Concours d'Automobiles ( Spa )
1896-09-07 US Providence Race ( Rhode Island )
1896-09-20 F Paris - Mantes /B ( Paris - Mantes )
1896-09-24 F GP de l'ACF: Paris - Marseille /B ( Paris - Marseille )
1896-11-14 GB Emancipation Day Run ( London - Brighton )

1897-01-29 F Marseille-Nice-La Turbie ( Marseille - Nice )
1897-07-24 F Paris-Dieppe ( Paris - Dieppe )
1897-08-14 F Paris-Trouville ( Paris - Trouville )
1897-09-12 I Arona - Stresa /B ( Arona - Stresa )

Makes with also much or at least some significance in motorracing after 1897:
1894 De Dion-Bouton
1894 Serpollet
1894 Panhard et Levassor
1894 Peugeot
1895 Bollée
1896 Delahaye
1896 Rochet Schneider
1897 Georges Richard
1897 Mors

You are missing Benz? Some lizence-produced cars as the Roger and the Parisienne and some Italian licence-makes (who knows the names?) were raced by their possessors, but it seems, that no original Benz was raced before the year 1900.

Makes without any significance in motorracing after 1897:
1894 Le Brun (steamer)
1894 Scott (steamer)
1894 De Montais (steamer)
1895 Sclaverani (steamer)
1895 Jeanteaud (electric)
1896 Riker (electric)
1896 Electric Carriage (electric)
1894 Vacheron
1894 De Bourmont
1894 Roger-Benz
1894 Gautier-Wehrle
1895 Duryea
1895 Müller-Benz
1895 Morris and Salom (Lundell)
1895 Sturgess (Lundell)
1895 Rossel (steamer)
1896 Parisienne-Benz
1896 Landry et Beyroux
1896 Triouleyre
1896 Tissandier
1896 Fisson
1896 Tenting

Tricycles and motorcycles: (only mentioned for completeness)
1895 Winke und Delmer motorcycle
1895 Hildebrand Woldsmüller motorcycle
1895 Millet motorcycle
1896 De Dion tricycle
1896 Leon Bollée tricycle
1897 Clement
1897 Comiot

Drivers of some importance: (not only as drivers)
Ernest Archdeacon (later testing driver of Delahaye)
Amédée Bollée jr. (constructor)
Fernand Charron (driver / prospect)
Compte De Chasseloupe Laubat (winner 1896)
Compte Jules De Dion ('fastest' 1894, winner 1897 )
Chevalier René De Knyff ('instigator', driver / prospect)
Ernest Delahaye (constructor)
Leonce Girardot (driver / prospect)
Etienne (or Francois?) Giraud (driver / prospect)
Gilles Hourgieres (winner 1897)
A. Koechlin (winner 1895)
Georges Lemaitre (driver of winning car 1894)
Emile Levassor ('fastest' 1895, constructor)
Emile Mayade (winner 1896, first employed 'worksdriver')
André Michelin (tyres!)
Emile Mors (constructor)
Georges Richard (constructor, winner)
Louis Rigoulot (designer / Peugeot)
Emile Roger (agent / Benz France)
Leon Serpollet (constructor)
? Viet (designer / De Dion, later Renault!)

Winners of the less important first races and events in the U.S.A., in Great Britain, Italy and Belgium are not considered.


#2 fines

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Posted 18 November 2000 - 19:11

Maybe this is a chance to get the dates right. I have the following conflicting information:

1894 Paris-Rouen: Jul 22 (Kirchberg 1985, Cimarosti 1986, Galpin 2000), Jun 22 (Higham 1995)
1895 Paris-Bordeaux-Paris: Jun 11 (Motorwagen 1898), Jul 17 (Motorwagen 1904), Jun 11-13 (Higham 1995), Feb 25 (Galpin 2000)
1896 Providence Race: Sep 7-11 (Galpin 2000)
1896 Paris-Marseille-Paris: Sep 24 (Motorwagen 1898, 1904), Sep 24-Oct 3 (Cimarosti 1986, Higham 1995, Galpin 2000)
1897 Marseille-Nice-Monte Carlo: Jan 29 (Motorwagen 1904)
1897 Marseille-Nice-La Turbie: Jan 29-31 (Galpin 2000)
1897 ?: Apr 4 (Motorwagen 1904), 100 km race won by Viet
1897 ?: Jun 20 (Motorwagen 1904), 100 km race won by Léon Bollée

#3 Flicker

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Posted 18 November 2000 - 21:00

May be... you will add some other info about drivers (winners)of Italian races and some others?

1894 Paris - Rouen 1. Albert de Dion De Dion 2. G. Lemaitre Peugeot 3. Doriot Peugeot 18.7 km/h 126 kms

1895 Paris - Bordeaux - Paris 1. Emile Levassor Panhard 2. A. Koechlin Peugeot 3. L. Rigoulot De Dion 24.1 1178

1896 Paris - Bordeaux - Agen 1. Bousquet(?) Peugeot 24.5 1276
1896 Spa - Francorchamps 1. Lomay(?) Peugeot - -
1896 Paris - Marseille - Paris 1. Emile Mayade Panhard 2. Merkel Panhard 3. Viet De Dion 25.3 1711

1897 Marseille - Nice - La Turbie 1. Gastone de Chasseloup-Laubat De Dion 2. Lemaitre Peugeot 32.5 233
1897 Paris - Dieppe 1. Jamin Bolée (or Gilles Hourgiêres Panhard (?) 2. Albert de Dion De Dion 3. Hourgieres Panhard 34.8 161
1897 Paris - Trouville 1. Gilles Hourgiêres Panhard 2. G. Lemaitre Peugeot 3.Albert de Dion De Dion 40.5 181
1897 Arona - Stresa - Arona 1. Guiseppe Cabianci Benz - 35 kms
1897 Berlin - Leipzig 1. Fritz Held Benz - -

some of this info (it seems to me... :) was taken from "GP racing, facts & figures" by Monkhouse, tables by King-Farlow)

#4 Boniver

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Posted 18 November 2000 - 21:17

beautiful :up: :up:

son idea who won
-95 Turin - Asti
-96 Bordeaux - Langon
-96 Bordeaux - Agen
-96 Paris - Nantes
-97 Arona - Stresa

#5 Boniver

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Posted 18 November 2000 - 22:02

Berlin - Leipzig
1898 first race
1899 1. Fritz Held - Benz

#6 Egon Thurner

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Posted 18 November 2000 - 23:13

fines: I hope this is a chance to get the dates right!

1894 Paris-Rouen: Jul 22 (Kirchberg 1985, Cimarosti 1986, Galpin 2000), Jun 22 (Higham 1995)
> Georgano and Roberts also have Jul, 22

1895 Paris-Bordeaux-Paris: Jun 11 (Motorwagen 1898), Jul 17 (Motorwagen 1904), Jun 11-13 (Higham 1995), Feb 25 (Galpin 2000)
> I also wondered, why Darren has Feb, 25; Georgano and Roberts also have Jun 11 (-15 to stay correct! Bollée needed about 90 hours with his heavy steamer, with toilette onboard!!!)

1896 Providence Race: Sep 7-11 (Galpin 2000)
1896 Paris-Marseille-Paris: Sep 24 (Motorwagen 1898, 1904), Sep 24-Oct 3 (Cimarosti 1986, Higham 1995, Galpin 2000)
> both correct; my list gives only the date of the start.

1897 Marseille-Nice-Monte Carlo: Jan 29 (Motorwagen 1904)
1897 Marseille-Nice-La Turbie: Jan 29-31 (Galpin 2000)
> The last stage was Nice - La Turbie; the 'first' La Turbie hill climb

1897 ?: Apr 4 (Motorwagen 1904), 100 km race won by Viet
1897 ?: Jun 20 (Motorwagen 1904), 100 km race won by Léon Bollée
> both only for motor-trikes; not considered in my work.

flicker: and Boniver:
May be... you will add some other info about drivers (winners)of Italian races and some others?

-95 Turin - Asti ..........Simone Federmann (Daimler Wagonette 4 seater)
-96 Bordeaux - Langon .....Bord (no more info)
-96 Bordeaux - Agen ......Bousquet (Peugeot ?)
-96 Paris - Mantes .......Mayade (Panhard et Levassor)
-97 Arona - Stresa .......Cobianchi (Benz ?)

> I didn't list the results, because I think, they are available for everybody. Here are the links: (thank you, Darren;))


1896 Spa - Francorchamps 1. Lomay(?) Peugeot - -
> Wherefrom do you have this info? I have the following:
Concours d'Automobiles; Spa 11 July 1896 (the first automobile sport event in Belgium).
1) Rossel (Rossel) 2) Laumaillé (Peugeot) 3) Craninckx (Benz) ...
More info about early belgian races:

Berlin - Leipzig
1898 first race
1899 1. Fritz Held - Benz

Thank you, but is to early ... ;)

#7 Boniver

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Posted 19 November 2000 - 09:08

1898 24 mei Berlin - Potsdam - Berlin (Dt)
1898 27 mei Berlin - Leipzig - Berlin (Dt)
1998 25 June Brussel - Spa (Bel)
1998 first race in Swiss

1899 24 maart Nice - La Turbie (Fr)
1899 ???? Pau (Fr)
1899 2 april Dresden - Berlin (Dt)
1899 14 mei Aachen - Colblenz (Dt) (first internationale race in Dt)
1899 23 juli Innsbruch - Munchen (Oost)
1899 12 september Berlin - Barimgartenbruch - Berlin (Dt)
1899 20 september Berlin - Leiprig (Dt)
1899 2 juli Frankfurt - Coln (Dt)
1899 14 juli Mains - Bingen - Coblenz - Mains (Dt)
1899 27 aug Semmeringrennen

1900 ? feb Course du Catalogue (Sp) (first race on circuit)
1900 30 maart Nice - La Turbie
1900 13 mei Mannheim - Pforzheim - Mannheim (Dt)
1900 2 juni Salzburg - Linz - Wein (Oost)
1900 17 juni Nurnburg - Bamberg - Nurnburg (Dt)
1900 22 juli Strassburg - Kappol - Strassburg (Oost)
1900 30 aug Berlin - Aachen (Dt)
1900 29 juli Int. baanrennen Frankfurt (Dt)
1900 8 sep Semmeringrennen

1901 29 maart Nice La Turbie (Fr)
1901 3 sept automoblile meting of Ostende (B)
1901 12 mei Mannheim - Pforzheim - Mannheim (Dt)
1901 16 juni Strassburg - Colmar - Strassburg (Dt)
1901 22 sept Semmeringrennen (Dt)

1902 7 april Nice La Turbie (Fr)
1902 ??? Mount Ventoux (Fr)
1902 25 mei Mannheim - Pforzheim - Mannheim (Dt)
1902 31 aug Int. baanrennen Frankfurt (Dt)
1902 ??? Semmeringrennen (Dt)

1903 1 april Nice La Turbie (Fr)
1903 10 mei Mannheim - Baden (Dt)
1903 11 juli Week of Ostende (B)
1903 30 aug Int. baanrennen Frankfurt (Dt)
1903 17 sep Semmeringrennen (Dt)

#8 Boniver

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Posted 19 November 2000 - 17:29

Braunbeck's 1907 data

23-jul-94 Paris Rouen
17-jul-95 Paris Bordeaux Paris
11 to 12 mei 98 Paris Bordeaux
15 to 17 juli 98Paris Amsterdam Paris
24-mei-99 Paris Bordeaux
14-jun-00 Gordon Bennett
29-mei-01 Paris Bordeaux
27 to 29 juni 01Paris Berlin
19 to 29 juni 02Paris Wien
31-jul-02 Ardennen
24 to 27 mei 03 Paris Madrid
21 to 22 juni 03Ardennen
02-jul-03 Gordon Bennett

#9 quintin cloud

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Posted 20 November 2000 - 13:45

the race results from 1894 to 1897 are complete
and can viewed at my webpage at http://www.formula1results.com
the info posted on darrens page is from my webpage
with my pomission.
there is some info about the race if any noted event

#10 Egon Thurner

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Posted 20 November 2000 - 17:06

Originally posted by Boniver
Braunbeck's 1907 data

23-jul-94 Paris Rouen
17-jul-95 Paris Bordeaux Paris

Ouch! Now we have one more possible date for each of the two races. Who can bring some light to this matter?

Quintin, I often have visited your page and recognized, that most of the results data is equal, yours and Darrens. But now, especially for the years from 1894 to 1905 Darren has added a lot of corrections of the Driver's names and also 'new' results for a lot of lokal italian races. That's right, Darren?;) BTW Darren, I'm missing an 'updates-section' on yout famous site!

#11 quintin cloud

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Posted 21 November 2000 - 07:30

Egon Thurner to answer the about 1894 Paris-Rouen & 1895
Paris Bordeaux Paris trails I have following dates :

1894 - 22 july (3 sources)

1895 - 18 may Turin-Asti
1895 - 11 to 13 june Paris - Bordeaux **
1895 - 02 nov US Times-Herald Expo Run
1895 - 28 nov US Times-Herald Contest

1896-05-30 US Cosmopolitan Road Race
1896-09-07 US Providence Race
1896-09-24 F GP de l'ACF: Paris - Marseille
1896-11-14 GB Emancipation Day Run

1897-01-29 F Marseille-Nice-La Turbie
1897-07-24 F Paris-Dieppe
1897-08-14 F Paris-Trouville
1897-09-12 I Arona - Stresa

as correct but missing races that are in darrens page
are correct aswell
just a point of note I'm not dismissing darrens work
at all and I'm happy see that extra info has been included
in to all of 1894 to 1903 results.
I'm going to include a update list for my webpage
in the new year with a update of a lot of info aswell.

#12 Darren Galpin

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Posted 21 November 2000 - 07:59

Egon - you are right. I have updated the names and added Italian race results to the pages.

An updates page? That would be long, and I wouldn't know where to start given the number of new track maps I have added recently, current race results, updated driver bios etc etc. Rather than an updates page, perhaps I should start my own thread on this forum - what is new on my website, and peoples comments to it!

Boniver - Thanks for the e-mails about this period, and I wil be updating 1901 soon. The reason for the duplication is that I concatenated a couple of files together to construct the page, and I forgot to delete something. I was tired that night!

#13 Dennis David

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Posted 22 November 2000 - 04:47

Darren what is you URL again? Also Darren, Quinton and Egon what books, etc are you referencing in this thread? I am always eager to add to my library.

#14 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 22 November 2000 - 06:40

Originally posted by Darren Galpin
...perhaps I should start my own thread on this forum - what is new on my website, and peoples comments to it!...

As far as I can see on the Internet, you have the best statistical web site on the planet. I have taken liberty and printed your list of 1906-1949 races for easier comparison with my upcoming list of Grand Prix Winners 1895-1949. I also want to thank you for the formatting you have chosen, enabling printing and filing without losing text. However, I would like to see a margin on the left for normal filing in a ring binder if that is feasible. Very user-friendly layout otherwise!

I hope you won't object that I have taken liberty and adapted from your site four events, new to me, which brings my list to over 680 events.

I have spent several hours looking over your pages and have come across things incorrect. When I find more time, I will let you know some shortcomings. After spending hours going through your pages, I realized that I was dealing with the best statistical site. This is at the same time a relief to me because now I don't have to do what I had planned to do. It's already there at Darren's home page and now I have more time for my other projects.

#15 Darren Galpin

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Posted 22 November 2000 - 08:08

Thanks for all that guys - I really appreciate it!

Dennis - URL is http://www.silhouet.com/motorsport
As for books, I have used surprisingly few. There is the Guinness Motor Racing - The Records by Ian Morrison which was published back in 1985, and Peter Higham's Guinness Guide to International Motorsport. A lot of the rest of the additional detail was supplied by Quintin and a friend of mine in the south of France - I don't know his sources exactly

Hans - an indent? I'll look into that for future releases.

#16 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 22 November 2000 - 09:13

Which years are covered in the book Guiness Motor Racing: The Records by Ian Morrison?

The first Edition in softcover came out in 1978. Are editions from 1987 and later better than the early ones?

#17 Darren Galpin

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Posted 22 November 2000 - 09:40

Mine is 1987, and it does cover the Gordon Bennett races and Paris races (top six results). I don't know the earlier versions, so I'm afraid that I cannot compare them.

#18 quintin cloud

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Posted 22 November 2000 - 11:16

Dennis the books that I have used is:

A Record of Motor Racing (Gerald Rose).Reprinted in 1949 [Original writen in 1909]
The Checkered Flag (Peter Helck) 1961.
The Chequered Flag 100 Years of Motor Racing (Ivan Rendall).1998
The Complete History of Formula One Motor Racing (A. Cimarosti).1997

#19 fines

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Posted 22 November 2000 - 16:07

Wow, Quintin, the "Rose"! I always dreamed of buying that one, being a stat freak. Is it really that good? Can you describe its contents?


#20 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 22 November 2000 - 17:52

These are my main sources for the races up to 1914:

[*]Gerald Rose A Record of Motor Racing 1949
[*]Charles Jarrott Ten Years of Motors and Motor Racing 4th Ed. 1956
[*]Peter Helck The Checkered Flag 1961
[*]Georges Monkhouse and Roland King-Farlow Grand Prix Racing 1953 and 1964 Ed.
[*]Kent Karslake Racing Voiturettes 1950
[*]Kent Karslake The French Grand Prix 1906-1914 1948
[*]Henry Serrano Villard The Great Road Races 1894-1914 1972
[*]Dina Rebaudengo Il Primo Giro d'Italia in Automobile 1901 1965
[*]Chris Jones Road Race 1977
[*]Dr. Peter Kirchberg Das Beste aus "DER MOTORWAGEN" 1985 Vol. 1 & 2
[*]Julian K. Quattlebaum, M.D. The Great Savannah Races 1983
[*]Albert R. Bochroch American Automobil Racing 1974
[*]TASO Mathieson Grand Prix Racing 1906-1914 1965
[*]Lord Montagu of Beaulieu The Gordon Bennett Races 1963
[*]Paul Sheldon A Record of GP and Voiturette Racing 1987 Vol. 1
[*]Automobile Quarterly various issues

I also use the following for cross referencing
[*] Adriano Cimarasti The Complete History of GP Mot. Racing
[*]Peter Higham The Guinness Guide to Int. Mot. Racing 1995
and several others

P.S. I have too many books, therefore research takes too long if I check all sources.

#21 Egon Thurner

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Posted 22 November 2000 - 19:01

... and here are mine:

[*]G.N.Georgano A Motor Racing Camera 1894 - 1916 1976
[*]Lord Montagu of Beaulieu The Gordon Bennett Races 1963
[*]Clutton, Posthumus, Jenkinson The racing car; development and design 1956
[*]Peter Roberts Racing Cars 1973
[*]T.R.Nicholson Racing Cars and record-breakers 1898 - 1921 1971
[*]Paul Sheldon A Record of GP and Voiturette Racing 1987 Vol. 1
[*]Dr. Peter Kirchberg Das Beste aus "DER MOTORWAGEN" 1985 Vol. 1 & 2
[*]Georges Monkhouse and Roland King-Farlow Grand Prix Racing 1964
[*]Ivan Rendall The Chequered Flag 100 Years of Motor Racing 1997

and also several others for more pictures

Quote Hans: P.S. I have too many books, ... Hans, you lucky man!

#22 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 22 November 2000 - 19:49

You could be right that I might be lucky but at times I realize that I have too many publications. That's why I am thinking of selling some books to make room for others. Over the years I have spent over US $11,000.00 on bound work, not counting the money spent for photocopies at the libraries. So, I cannot say it came easy. Collecting books nowadays is much easier with the Internet and you can sometimes pick super low prices.

#23 Egon Thurner

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Posted 23 November 2000 - 06:27

Hans, please drop me a mail with a list of the books, you want to sell, if there are some rare pieces. Maybe we can make a deal.

#24 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 23 November 2000 - 08:13

I sent you an e-mail. Please give me a short description of the book, G.N.Georgano 'A Motor Racing Camera 1894 - 1916" 1976 like size, how many pages, photos, ect.:

#25 alessandro silva

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Posted 23 November 2000 - 10:23

I realize that I forgot to thank you for the addresses of Paris Booksellers that you had given to me a few months ago. In your trip to Europe you should find time to go to:

33 rue Constantinople - 75008 Paris
Tel: (33) 1 45 22 91 01
Fax: (33) 1 44 90 00 22
It is excellent and also a lot of fun with the enthusistic owner.
There I found a pre-Sheldon French look alike: Cahin "Course Automobile 1894/1978" (or something of this kind, I do not have the book here) which is excellent for the main earlier races and for all prewar American races. It is mentioned in Sheldon's bibliography and results for early races should be checked against these ones, since it is the only avalaible general French source that I know of.
Now a request and a question for you:
i) could you send me the list of books that you want to sell,
ii) could you tell me your list of sources for the period 1945/1950?

#26 Egon Thurner

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Posted 23 November 2000 - 11:14


About G.N.Georgano 'A Motor Racing Camera 1894 - 1916":

It concludes 102 photographs, as the title says from 1894 - 1916, all in black and white of course. Every picture has a short comment. Most photographs with the exception of a few are from the National Motor Museum, the other from Autocar (8), the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Association (4) and one from the Detroit Automotive History Collection. To be honest, it is one of my favorite books of that era. The pictures are rare, I have seen only a few in other publications.

#27 fines

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Posted 23 November 2000 - 16:52

Hans, please also send me your book list!!!!

#28 TonyKaye

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Posted 23 November 2000 - 20:45

I may have missed their mention in this thread, but three other books which I use for the early races are;

A Digest of Motors and Motoring 1895-1900
A History of Motors and Motoring 1901-1902-1903
Conquete de la Vitesse by Lelievre and Dulier

The first two are companion volumes and both contain much racing material. Of course there is also the Dulier series of books devoted to individual races before 1900. I suppose I should also include 'Cinquante Grandes Course d'Automobiles' by Dimpre and Touttain.

For the early Italian races I go straight to my four volumes of Autorama or to the appropriate articles in V&V.

#29 Felix Muelas

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Posted 23 November 2000 - 21:45

Originally posted by TonyKaye
I suppose I should also include 'Cinquante Grandes Course d'Automobiles' by Dimpre and Touttain


Yes, please include it ! :)
As it comes, it´s probably -together with Beltoise´s "Defense de Mourir"- the first motoring book I ever read!
I don´t know, but seems improbable that I actually bought it, it might have come from someone within the family. Unfortunately, I don´t know who to thank, but it still keeps its presence surrounded by many others, no doubt more interesting and expensive but also of less "romantic" value
Thanks for mentioning the book.

Un abrazo

Felix Muelas

#30 john glenn printz

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Posted 01 March 2007 - 17:59

THE HISTORY OF MOTOR CAR RACING 1894-1899: THE BEGINNINGS by John Glenn Printz and Ken M. McMaken. It is perhaps not too impertinent to investigate the years 1894-1899, when the sport of automobile racing originated. It is the antiquity period of the sport or the Old Stone Age so to speak, especially in the United States. In France, where automobile racing first occurred, the sport very quickly developed and almost at once it was put on a professional basis both with regard to the drivers and to the design of special racing vehicles. The French too, for a decade or two, were generally (but not always) way ahead of almost everybody else.

Just how far back, for instance, are the years 1894 to 1899 with regard to motor car racing? Well just consider the following; 1. It was before the American Automobile Association (AAA), the Ford Motor Company, or General Motors existed. 2. It was before Barney Oldfield, Louis Chevrolet, Bob Burman, Ralph Mulford, or Ralph DePalma raced. 3. It was before the existence of the Gordon Bennett Cup, the Vanderbilt Cup, or Grand Prix racing. 4. It was before the Brooklands Speedway in England or the Indianapolis Speedway in the U.S., were even thought of. 5. It was before the Model T Ford or the first Chevrolet car and, 6. It was long before there existed an official AAA (United States) National Driving Championship Title. Now that's ancient brother. Here's a chronology of the above mentioned items; 1900-The first Gordon Bennett Cup; 1902-The AAA founded in Chicago and Barney's Oldfield's first race; 1903-The Ford Motor Company founded; 1904-The first Vanderbilt Cup race; 1905-Louis Chevrolet's first race; 1906-The first Grand Prix and Bob Burman's first race; 1907-The Brooklands Speedway opens and Ralph Mulford's first race; 1908-General Motors founded, the first Model T Ford marketed, and Ralph DePalma's first race; 1909-The Indianapolis Motor Speedway opens; 1911-The first Chevrolet car constructed and the first Indianapolis 500 staged; and, 1916-First year for the AAA National Championship Driving Title.

The history of U.S. motor racing before 1909 has never been written, while the years 1909 to 1921 has never quite been properly set down either, although some attempts at it, with regard to some particulars, have been made. Even what exactly took place in 1920, with regard to the AAA Championship, is still debated although we believe all of the arguments on one side of the debate are inept and silly. It is now our goal to give some coverage of the 1894 to 1899 seasons. Any attempt of the 1890's is somewhat provisional, we admit. Our narrative will rely on mostly contemporary source materal (primary) and we will try not to be unduly influenced by the later accounts (secondary). Our primary emphasis is with the American scene but the important European events will be covered.

Edited by john glenn printz, 17 July 2009 - 20:06.

#31 john glenn printz

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Posted 01 March 2007 - 20:42

Racing 1894-1899 (cont-1) PART I. THE IMMEDIATE ORIGINS OF EUROPEAN AND AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE RACING 1894 TO 1896. "The Germans undoubtedly were responsible for the motorcar, but it is to the French that we owe the sport of motor racing"-Lord Montagu of Beaulieu (1926-).

THE FIRST CARS. Just when, by whom, and in what exact circumstances the very first automobile was made, constructed, or invented is an extremely complex and acrimonious historical question. Luckily this long disputed problem is not really very germane to our immediate topic. Undisputed is the fact that one Nicholas Joseph Cugnot (1725-1804), first invented and then actually drove a three wheeled, but lumbersome steam driven artillery tractor or wagon, in Paris during the year 1769. Cugnot's wagon moved at a rate of 2 1/2 mph, could carry four passengers, and featured front wheel drive. Cugnot himself was an French army officer and a military ordnance engineer and his steam vehicle's ostentious purpose was to move and transport heavy artillary equipment (guns and cannon) during a time of war. Two examples of the Cugnot artillary tractor were built but then all further development stopped. The machines were too cumbersome and much too slow. However Cugnot's two mechanical wagons or tractors were apparently the world's first successful self-propelled land vehicles.

During the years 1825-1835 there were many experiments in France, Germany, and especially in England, with large steam driven coaches but the rapid rise of the much more practical and successful steam railroads greatly hampered these efforts and undertakings. Later attempts along these lines were called "road locomotives". These old steam coaches and road locomotives are only remotely related and linked up to the steam cars proper that began appearing in the 1890's. The 19th century was and is known as the "Age of Steam" and considering all the knowledge that must have been accumulated about steam itself, steam engines, and steam locomotives during this era, it is most remarkable that no steam car could compete or beat the rival gasoline/petrol vehicles in major races after a fluke victory in 1897.

The leading designer and builder of steam driven cars in Europe was the Frenchman Leon Serpollet (1858-1907) who entered some of the important continental races until 1905. The best known steam cars constructed in the U.S. were the Stanley (built 1897-1927), the Locomobile (1899-1903), and the White (1900-1911). All three of these companies engaged in racing sometime during their history. Locomobile switched over to the production of gasoline cars beginning in 1902. The best steam powered automobiles ever manufactured are generally considered to be the Doble, which were made in the U.S. from 1914 to 1932. They were very expensive and only about 50 examples were built.

Edited by john glenn printz, 20 October 2011 - 12:43.

#32 john glenn printz

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Posted 02 March 2007 - 13:23

Racing 1894-1899 (cont-2) The first significant and verified use of an internal combustion gasoline engine in a motorized vehicle is usually ascribed, somewhat by courtesy perhaps to the German, Karl Benz (1844-1900), who installed a single cylinder motor of 3/4's horsepower into a three wheeled carriage in 1885. A year later another German, Gottleib Daimler (1834-1900), installed a one cylinder gasoline motor into a four wheel horse carriage. This engine was a four cycle, 1 1/2 horsepower type patented by Daimler himself in 1883. The 1883 Daimler motor was extremely light in weight and had a crank speed of 700 rpm to the then, more normal, range of 150 to 200 rpm. In the early 1890's the most advanced and successful petrol motored vehicles were being manufactured in France by the two separate firms of Panhard et Lavassor and Peugeot. As early as January 1892 Panhard et Lavassor issued a catalog of automobiles for sale to the general public.

Charles E. Duryea (1861-1938) and his brother, J. Frank Duryea (1869-1967), located in Springfield, Massachusetts U.S., constructed a single cylinder 2 horsepower gasoline buggy in 1893. If not the first American made car which actually ran, it was certainly among the first and its existence in September 1893, in running order, is beyond doubt. The two Duryeas were the early leaders in the design of gasoline powered vehicles in America before 1896. By contrast, Henry Ford (1863-1947) didn't complete his first car, called a Quadricycle, until June 1896.

Gaston Plant (1834-1889), a French physicist, invented the first practical storage battery in 1860. Its further development made the electric powered car possible. A very early example of the electric car was built by William Morrison (1850?-1927), of Des Moines, Iowa, in 1892. In Europe there was very little interest in the battery propelled auto but a few were built by the French firms of Darracq, Jeantaud, and Krieger in the 1890's. Andrew L. Riker (1862-1930) was the leading experimenter with regard to electrical powered vehicles in the U.S. in the late 1890's.

A few more preliminary remarks should be made before we move on to the "first race", the 1894 Paris to Rouen reliability run. Two occurances should certainly be mentioned. The State of Wisconsin, in the U.S., in 1875 passed legislation offering a $10,000 prize (!) for a fully practical mechanized vehicle which could travel a 200 mile distance, averaging 5 mph or more. On 16 July 1878 two steam mobile tractor thresting machines took up this challenge. One of these two machines, from the community of Oshkosh, actually completed the trip, taking 33 hours and 27 minutes. The 201 mile journey was from Madison to Green Bay. The Wisconsin state legislators however did not want to pay off the $10,000 prize, using the valid excuse that the 9875 pound Oshkosh steamer did not fulfill the exact conditions of the original challenge, i.e. that it was not really "practical". The state officials deemed that the big Oshkosh machine was hardly, "a cheap and practical substitute for the use of a horse", but it seems, after a time, the Wisconsin state did pay the Oshkosh owners $5,000. As this test was not between automobiles proper but steam tractors, it should not be in our opinion, counted as an automobile race. This contest is interesting to be sure, but is an early isolated freak.

In 1887, in Paris again, a journal LE VELOCIPEDE, tried to arrange a motorized vehicle contest on April 20, but as only one entry appeared (a tricycle), the contest had to be cancelled. Obviously, before the middle 1890's, all attempts at motor car competition were somewhat premature. Motor racing really begins with the year 1894.

Edited by john glenn printz, 06 December 2009 - 18:35.

#33 john glenn printz

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Posted 03 March 2007 - 20:26

Racing 1894-1899 (cont-3) 1894 PARIS-ROUEN (JULY 22) Oddly enough the origin of modern international motor racing is not much disputed. It is generally agreed that it was started and invented in France during the years 1894 and 1895. A French newspaper, LE PETIT JOURNAL, announced in December 1893, competitive tests to begin on 18 July 1894 and a reliability run to follow on 22 July 1894 for horseless vehicles of all types. The competing automobiles in the reliability trial would drive from Paris to Rouen, a distance of about 79 miles, and a judgement would then be made about their performances. This event sparked much interest and 102 entries were secured in all. The LE PETIT JOURNAL test-run was not however, in any strict sense, intended to be a race. The various contestants would be evaluated by their their overall efficiency and performance, although certainly the total elapsed time turned in by each vehicle became a very important factor in the final decision as to the exact placement of the top prizes. 21 velicles started in the 79 mile trial, 8 steamers and 13 powered by gasoline or petrol engines. 4 of the steamers managed to complete the full distance.

Count Jules Felix Philippe Albert De Dion's (1855-1946) steamer had the best overall time, of 6 hours and 48 minutes, for an average speed of 11.6 mph. Gasoline cars however finished in the next 13 positions! De Dion's steam carriage had consisted of a 4 wheel tractor pulling a two wheeled rig or landau, making for six wheels in all. And De Dion's entry was excluded from the first place prize because it took two men to operate the steam tractor. The first prize, worth 5000 francs or 200 British pounds, was awarded jointly to the two French firms of Panhard et Levassor, and Peugeot. Two Peugeots took 2nd and 3rd in the Paris to Rouen trial, with two Panhards 4th and 5th. Originally it seems, the Peugeot company was going to be selected for the first prize but then someone pointed out quite correctly that the German designed, Daimler V2 engines, in the Peugeots had been supplied by Panhard et Levassor to the Peugeot factory. So it was finally decided to give the first place prize to both of these two French firms.

The ultimate consequences of this July 1894 Paris-Rouen trial test run were immense and its effects are still very much with us today. Consider these two questions. Why are the world headquarters of all international motor racing still located in Paris? And why is the European Grand Prix motor car racing still considered to be the most prestigious form of all the types of automobile competition? In the long view of things both questions can be largely answered by reference to the 1894 Paris-Rounen run, but the then immediate effects of the LE PETIT JOURNAL's contest were also very far reaching and of the greatest importance. There were firstly the further developments in France itself. Genuine enthusiasm for the automobile now knew no bounds. The LE PETIT JOURNAL was now petitioned to hold another such competition for the year 1895 but they declined the honor fearing that such an event might get out of hand, stress speed only, become truely dangerous involving perhaps serious accidents, get them into serious lawsuits, and finally even involved with grave altercations with the police.

ADDENDUM: THE DAIMLER V2. The first German V2 was not Hitler's rocket in 1944, but Gottleib Daimler's gasoline motor of 1889. It was designed as an all purpose unit, i.e., for automobile, boat, cycle, and stationary use, and developed about 3 1/2 horsepower at 700 rpm. This V2 engine was a further advance over the Daimler one cylinder motor of 1883. Daimler wanted a new engine that was no larger, but which ran a lot smoother, and had a much greater power to weight ratio. The two long cylinders were inclinded at 15 degrees. Oddly enough, Daimler himself, seems to have not been much interested in the new V2 so far as its applications to horseless carriages was concerned. Its use as a marine engine was more important to him. By 1891 both Panhard et Levassor, and Peugeot utilized and futher developed this Daimler motor for automotive use, under license from the Daimler firm. Engines of this type powered both the Panhard and Peugeot cars used in the Paris-Rouen trial of 22 July 1894. It was Emile Levassor (1843-1897) , in France and not Germany, who experimented successfully with Daimler's V2 engine for motor car application. This was during the period 1891 to 1894.

Edited by john glenn printz, 08 June 2012 - 14:24.

#34 john glenn printz

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 16:58

Racing 1894-1899 (cont-4) Thus all the would-be possible contestants, interested in staging a 1895 event, had to organize themselves and elect an "ad hoc" committee to stage the next contest. Under Count De Dion this was accomplished and a much larger and bigger test for automobiles was scheduled for June 1895. "Comte" Albert De Dion (1855-1946), was one of true founders of the pioneer French automobile industry, at the end of the 19th century. De Dion's interest in automobiling began in 1881-83, when he financed the design, construction, and testing of steam powered engines and vehicles produced by Georges Bouton (1847-1938) and Charles Armand Trepardoux (1853-1920).. Beginning about the year 1889 De Dion and Bouton began experiments with gasoline/petrol motors. In 1895 they manufactured the first true high-speed petrol engine using a coil ignition with a mechanically operated contact breaker. In the late 1890's the firm of De Dion et Bouton were among the world's leaders in the production of petrol motors, motorized tricycles, and automobiles. In the world's first automobile competition, the Paris to Rouen run (22 July 1894), a De Dion steam wagon recorded the quickest time but was awarded only the second place prize on the overall performance scale.

De Dion, along with the Dutch born Baron Etineen De Zuylen (1860-1934), were the chief instigators and organizers of the famous Automobile Club de France (ACF), founded in early November 1895. Count De Dion, who became a Marquis in 1901, was a rich lady's man and an outstanding figure in Parisan society at the turn of the century. In the 1880's he was called and known as the "Kingpin Dude" and the "White Carnation"; and as a man who, though rich and wealthy, would never accomplish anything of note. Later De Dion got involved in French politics. De Dion was among the persons arrested in June 1899 in connection with riots against the President of France, Emile Francois Loubet (1838-1929). This episode is known as the affair Prix d'Auteuil. De Dion was jailed for a short time but was later released amid the cheers of two hundred of his employes who had assembled for the occasion. De Dion denied that he had ever "rioted" but acknowledged that he hated the "peasant President" Loubet. De Dion soon became a Senator representing the district of Loire Inferieure and also later became a Deputy from Nantes in 1902. De Dion died 20 August 1946, at his home in Paris, at age 90.

Edited by john glenn printz, 17 July 2009 - 20:16.

#35 Doug Nye

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 17:08


For those of us with ageing eyes, might I respectfully suggest a few paragraph breaks in your flooding sea of text? It would make reading it SO much more attractive...


#36 Magee

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 00:13

This is close to the dates in question and links thereof, I hope.

The Gordon Bennett Races 1900 to 1905 and Today's Heritage
(Examine the past to understand the present)

The All-British Meet at the Vandusen Gardens in Vancouver is coming up on Saturday, May 20th where there will be a display of cars from the past, and that perhaps a connection or two to the more distant past may be made.
Some of the British marques we are familiar with had a historic connection to auto races at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th.
The Gordon Bennett Races, written by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, presents a log of events during the early 20th century. The races were designed to attract British, European and USA competitors and automobiles. It was intended to showcase the products of different countries in competition and perhaps the auto manufacturers' products. In the end it did help to sell cars.
As an example of speed back then, the 1904 French eliminating trials showed a high of 62 mph to a low of 21 mph, both averages. As an example of engine power, from a 4-cylinder engine, with bhp from 130 @ 1200 rpm down to 80 @ 1250 rpm. The automobiles had a weight limit of 1000 kg.
As for the British connections there were plenty. The marques were taken from the owner or builder, or a geographical location of the factory. For instance, C.S. Rolls and F.H. Royce were involved in the continental races. But there are more.
Herbert Austin of Wolseley, applied names to two cars. Wolseley cars placed ninth and twelth in 1904. The Crossley was connected to the races through Charles Jarrott who eventually joined Crossley of Manchester as Works Manager and worked on the development of four-wheel brakes. Wolseley and Austin united eventually evolving into the British Motor Corporation.
Singer, Sunbeam, and Vauxhall were active in the 1909 to 1913 period in voiturette races (cars under 400 kg) after the Gordon Bennett series. Talbot was active in 1919. Sheffield plants were producing springs, Dunlop was busy producing tires, and English oak was claimed to be the best for wheels. J.D. Siddeley prepared a car in his name for the 1905 races driven by Sidney Girling. However, the car did not continue the race due to a steering problem
The development of Ford of Dagenham was connected to Percival Perry who managed road preparation for the 1903 race in Ireland. Ford went on to produce many cars and engines for the race tracks though out the work. Sedans such as Escort and Cortina come to mind.
The Napier (London) was active in the races and came first in the 1902 season. Wolseley entrants placed 9th and 12th. In 1905, British cars did much better with Wolseleys in 8th and 11th and a Napier in 10th. The Wolseley in 8th place was driven by C.S. Rolls who also placed 8th in best lap times.
Overall, the Gordon Bennett Cup stirred up competition among automobile manufacturers resulting in improvements and expansion of the products' market. But Britain was overwhelmed in the races by the European competitors especially France and Germany. However, the races did provide a range of growth in Britain and a flourish of new models with names recognized today as icons in British motor sport. Look for some of them at The All-British Field Meet at Vandusen Gardens on May 20th.

#37 john glenn printz

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 18:05

Racing 1894-1899. (cont.-5) 1895 PARIS-BORDEAUX-PARIS (JUNE 11-13). The next major event was the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris race itself encompassing a total of 732 miles in all. Here speed was the major criteria of success and this event is generally considered the first real automobile racing contest. It inaugurated the famous, great, and annual French sponsored "town to town" motor car races which were continued until the year 1904. The May 1903 Paris-Madrid contest was the last of this series. It was halted at Bordeaux because of general public panic caused by five persons confirmed dead by racing accidents.

46 vehicles were entered for this 1895 French, Paris to Bordeaux and back, town to town road race. The rules stated that the winning car had to have more than two seats, a ploy apparently used to deceive the French authorities into thinking that this run was not a speed event or race proper, but was rather an open test run for future public passenger type autos. Still some two-seat cars, which could only be considered special racing models, were allowed to start. Car repairs, if needed, could only be done under the close scrutiny of the race officials and all replacement parts used, had to have been carried on the vehicle being serviced. There was no thought, at first, that just a single person would drive for the entire 732 mile distance. The various teams divided up the route into sections where their supply depots were located and where also a new and wholely fresh pilot would drive the next sections of the course. The race organizers had eleven control stations or checkpoints on the route where the cars had to stop and be officially accounted for. The prize money for this event was largely raised by subscription and two Americans, James Gordon Bennett, Jr. (1841-1918) and William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. (1878-1944), gave generously to this fund.

The actual starting field consisted of 22 cars; 15 petrol/gasoline, 6 steamers, and 1 electric. The start was at Versailles at noon and the contestants were dispatched at two minute intervals. A De Dion steamer, driven by Laubat, took an early lead but soon suffered mechanical failure. A front engined Panhard No. 5, driven by Emile Levassor himself, took over the front position at Vouvray (about 145 miles from Versailles) and was never headed after that. Levassor's lead increased steadily thereafter. Indeed so quickly did Levassor arrive at Ruffec, where a supply depot for the team was located and where also another pilot was scheduled to replace Emile, that no one was there (!), so Levassor pressed on himself rather than wait and lose the time.

When Emile reached Bordeaux, the half way point, his lead over the 2nd place car, was more than 3 1/2 hours. Now Levassor suddenly got finicky, if not superstitious, and wouldn't entrust "his" machine to any other driver. He now intended to drive directly back to Paris and would let no one touch the car. Emile then proceeded to do just that and on the return trip, at Tours, he had increased his lead to 4 1/2 hours. On reaching Paris itself, Levassor, with his riding mechanic Charles d'Hostingue, had driven both day and night for 48 hours and 48 minutes straight, for an average winning speed of 15 mph. At the finish Levassor's advantage had increased to 5 hours and 47 minutes over the 2nd place Peugeot No. 15 driven by Rigoulot. Emile's advantage over the 3rd place Peugeot No. 16, was 11 hours! The first two machines to finish were two seat vehicles and thus, according to the rules, were inelgible to win. The 3rd placed Peugeot, driven by Koechlin, was declared the official winner. However Levassor's contemporaries and most historians today give the win to Levassor for his epic drive. Nine cars completed the entire 732 mile distance; eight gasoline machines and one Bollee steamer. The Bollee took three days to complete its run and finished 9th. Its elasped time was 90 hours and 3 minutes.

Levassor's Panhard et Levassor car featured a new type 2 cylinder Daimler/Maybach engine introduced in the fall of 1894. This new engine was first designated the "N-Motor" for "Neues Modell", but soon became better known as the "Phoenix". The new Daimler motor had two cylinders in line, cast in tandem, and developed 4.2 horsepower at 800 rpm in contrast to the older Daimler V2 which had 3 1/2 horsepower at 720 rpm. Again, in seems, that Emile Constant Levassor was the one who modified and developed the Phoenix engine for automobile use. The three gear positions positions were rated 5 1/2 mph, 12 1/2 mph, and 18 1/2 mph respectively. The transmission gears were now fully enclosed, unlike the 1894 model Panhard et Levassor. The two cylinder Phoenix engine was then the most advanced automobile gasoline motor in the world. The next logical step, which was quickly taken, was to bolt two Phoenix units, side by side, on a common crankcase to creat a four cylinder engine.

The first automobile to use pneumatic type tires was the No. 46 Peugeot entered by the two Michelin brothers, i.e. Andre (1853-1931) and Edouard (1859-1940), in the 1895 Paris-Bordeaux-Paris race. Their No. 46 entry had a large box at the back of the vehicle which carried tools and extra spare tires. It was an exercise in blowouts. There were 23 in all, exhausting the tire supply, and so their Peugeot failed to finish. The first real use of the pneumatic tube rubber tires had been in the later 1880's, on bicycles. Robert William Thomson (1822-1873), an Englishman, had patented the idea as early as 1845, in Great Britain. John Boyd Dunlop (1840-1921) also patented a type of pneumatic tire in 1888 and developed them for bicycles and tricycles during the years 1887-1895. Michelin, in France, pioneered the pneumatic type for autos and the Dunlop Company soon did the same in England. For a short time, solid rubber tires were in use but the superiority of the pneumatic type was proven for automobiles by the year 1900. Before the solid rubber type tire, there was of course the horseless carriage "high wheelers", i.e. the wheels being made entirely out of wood with a steel band wrapped around the edge.

Later in the year Count De Dion's "ad hoc" Paris-Bordeaux-Paris racing committee, under De Dion and Van Zuylen, now organized itself in a more formal manner in Paris on 12 Nov. 1895 and became officially the "Automobile Club de France" (ACF) which immediately became Europe's most important sponser and organizer of road races, hill climbs, reliability runs, automobile shows, etc. France was now the European and world center of automobiling and for the next decade would continue to lead all comers. The ACF is a direct ancester to today's "Federation Internationale de l'Automobile" (FIA) which governs all international motor racing.

A stone monument, to commemorate Emile's "victory" in the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris contest, was erected in Paris at Porte Maillot, shortly after Levassor's premature death (at age 54) on 14 April 1897.

Edited by john glenn printz, 01 August 2009 - 19:40.

#38 john glenn printz

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 17:51

Racing 1894-1899 (cont-6) 1895 CHICAGO-WAUKEGAN-CHICAGO (NOVEMBER 2) The Paris-Rouen trial of 1894 led also to new developments in the U.S.A. The owner-publisher of the CHICAGO TIMES-HERALD, Herman H. Kohlsaat (1853-1924), knew of both the Paris-Rouen and Paris-Bordeaux-Paris events and he decided to duplicate the LE PETIT JOURNAL'S feat in the U.S. On 9 July 1895 Kohlsaat proposed a trek from Chicago to Milwaukee with prizes of $2000, $1000, and $500. This road test was set for 2 Nov. 1895, and again, like the Paris-Rouen run, was not a race per se, but merely a performance trial or demonstration. About 85 entries were received but most would remain on paper only and were but pipe dreams. On the very eve of the run, 1 Nov. 1895, it was obvious that only about six machines were ready and at the request of the many missing competitors, who had sent letters and telegrams requesting more time in which to prepare their vehicles, the event was postponed and a new date of 28 Nov. 1895 was put forward, i.e., Thanksgiving Day 1895.

This delay incensed one entrant, Oscar B. Mueller, who had his Benz engined vehicle fully prepared and he threatened to sue the CHICAGO TIMES-HERALD for the first place money of $2000 because of their failure to the hold the contest as scheduled. Mueller's attitute was that it was not HIS FAULT that the others were unable to compete and that he therefore deserved the first place money by default if he ran the entire course under the specified rules. But Kohlsaat held his ground and firmly stated that the $2000 first prize money would only be paid after the cars ran in the Thanksgiving Day test. However a compromise of sorts was reached.

With the prospect of six or seven entries, in order not to disappoint the public, and to give those who were ready some consolation, a special prize of $500 was now proposed for an exhibition test or scrub run for the next day. The route was to be from Chicago to Waukegan and back, about 92 miles in all.

The next morning found only two cars lined up, i.e., (1) a Duryea motor wagon driven by J. Frank Duryea and (2) Mueller's Benz which sported a chassis built by his father. At 8:30 a.m. the two machines were sent off. The Duryea seemed to have superior speed and quickly sped out ahead but then its chain broke and it took 48 minutes to repair this problem. Mueller now became the front runner. After its repair the Duryea machine was clearly gaining on the Benz/Mueller, when it crashed into a ditch to avoid hitting a farmer who moved the wrong way on the road with a team of horses. The Duryea was out with damaged steering and a broken rear axle. Mueller went on to complete the entire distance with a running time of 9 hours and 40 minutes and he collected the $500.

A one cylinder Benz engine was used by Oscar B. Mueller to win the 2 Nov. 1895 contest. The Benz motor was ranked at 3 horsepower, at 600 rpm. The R.H. Macy & Company, a New York city department store, imported four motorized vehicles from Emile Roger of Paris, to test the sales market for horseless carriages. Roger's carriages all used the same one cylinder Benz design and Jerry O'Connor drove one of these Macy imports in the later CHICAGO TIMES-HERALD test, staged on 28 Nov. 1895

#39 john glenn printz

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 20:29

Racing 1894-1899 (cont-7) 1895 CHICAGO-EVANSTON-CHICAGO (NOVEMBER 28) On the evening before the Thanksgiving Day race eleven competitors declared that they would start but only six vehicles showed up the next day; four were gasoline powered and two were electrics. Neither of the two electrics intended to run the distance for no supply stations for depleted battery replacement, had been placed along the route. They merely intended to give a short demonstration runs, only through the city of Chicago, until the batteries ran out of electric current. So the starting field in reality was reduced down to four gasoline/petrol horseless carriages. The total race distance had also been lowered. The route was now from Chicago to Evanston and back, about 52.4 miles in all.

Each car was required to carry an assigned official, called an umpire, who kept a log of the journey and who was to record all the rule infractions if and when they occurred. The event was held in despicable weather conditions with high winds and the temperature hovering near the freezing level. Deep snow, rock hard ruts, and soft slush lay everywhere along the course. Among the gasoline contingent were both J. Frank Duryea, with his 2 cylinder motor wagon now fully repaired from its 2 Nov. 1895 accident, and Oscar Mueller with his winning Benz/Mueller of three weeks ago.

The contest got underway at 8:55 a.m. and the Duryea was the first vehicle dispatched and took an early lead. One competitor (Hass) retired very early. The Duryea soon suffered a broken steering arm, caused by a bad rut, and was delayed; enabling the imported Benz/Roger driven by Jerry O'Connor to take over the front position as far as Evanston. But soon after the Duryea regained the lead, which it retained to the finish. At some point the Benz/Roger retired from the fray. After Duryea, only Mueller with his Benz powered car, completed the entire milage to place as the runnerup.

Both Duryea and Mueller had violated the written rules of the test as no ancillary or outside assistance was allowed. Duryea had employed a blacksmith to repair his machine and Mueller's carriage had to be pushed by spectators at least once. Both drivers had strayed from the designated route, which again was against the rules. The 1895 Duryea motor wagon was a mid-engined machine and its two cylinder petrol motor was mounted below the front seat. The engine had about 3 horsepower, with a bore and stroke of 4 x 4.5 inches. The Duryea was technically the most advanced gasoline automobile produced in America during the years 1893-1896 but soon lost this distinction to the Winton cars of 1897-1900, produced in Cleveland, Ohio.

The final results being; 1. J. Frank Duryea (Duryea No. 5) Time: 10 hours and 23 minutes, speed 5.05 mph; 2. Oscar B. Mueller/Charles Brady King (Benz/Mueller No. 19) Time: 10 hours and 47 minutes, speed 4.87 mph; 3. Jerry O'Connor (Benz/Roger No. 22) out; and 4. Frederich C. Hass (Benz/De La Vergne No. 7) out.

As has been said the event was held under execrable weather conditions and Mueller, suffering from the cold and frostbite, had to be relieved of his driving the car by the vehicle's umpire, Charles Brady King (1869-1957), for the last hour or so. This was the same Charles B. King who had the distinction of first driving an automobile on the streets of Detroit, MI (on 6 March 1896) and who during World War I was involved with the 410 horsepower, 16 cylinder "King-Bugatti" aviation motor. Henry Ford, with his Quadricycle, first took to the Detroit streets on 4 June 1896 and was the second man to pilot a horseless vehicle in the "Motor City".

On 5 Dec. 1895 the CHICAGO TIMES-HERALD awarded the Duryea car the first prize of $2000 on the basis of (quote), "best performace and average speed. Best pull and compact design." One of the electrics, i.e. Morris' "Electrobat", was awarded the Gold Metal because of the excellent showing it had made in special tests made a few days before the 52.4 mile run itself.

The staging of the CHICAGO TIMES-HERALD tests on November 2 and 28 led to consequences also. The very first American journal devoted solely to automobiles, HORSELESS AGE, started publishing, with its first issue dated November 1895. Almost on the same exact day the first British motor car magazine, AUTOCAR, had its first issue dated 2 Nov. 1895. Both first issues of these periodicals had heavy coverage of the CHICAGO TIMES-HERALD events.

On a suggestion of Charles B. King published in the CHICAGO TIMES-HERALD on 8 OCT. 1895, an "American Motor League" (AML) was founded in Chicago on 1 Nov. 1895, which was the world's first motor car club or association. Even the "Automobile Club de France" was started eleven days later, as we have already noted. The AML had some big names as members, i.e. the two Duryea brothers, Elwood Haynes, Hiram Percy Maxim, Henry G. Morris, Charles B. King, etc., but the AML remained moribund and abortive. About the only thing the AML seems to have done was to collect the annual $3.00 membership fees.


#40 john glenn printz

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Posted 09 March 2007 - 13:25

Racing 1894-1899 (cont.-8) SUMMARY OF 1894 AND 1895. The 1894 Paris-Rouen and the two 1895 Chicago contests were reliability demonstrations or trial tests and were not automobile races proper. Later generations however have always conventionally regarded these three excursions as among the earliest motor car races and we agree. In each of these three trial tests the most important factor became among the public, the newspapers, and the newly introduced automobile journals was, "Who had the quickest elapsed time?" It had already, by 1894, been clearly shown and proven that a horseless carriage could travel over a many mile distance from point A to point B successfully: there was no longer any argument or doubt about that. If many vehicles could traverse from point A to point B without serious problems, what other criterion remained for the best performance category, except who recorded the quickest time?

The 1895 Paris-Bordeaux-Paris affair seems to be the first actual automobile race, run as such. And so, by inextricable force, logic, or situation the earlier reliability runs quickly and suddenly, as well as in the actual practice, were transformed or metamorphosed into races, pure and simple. It's also an odd, but true, fact that automobile racing began in both France and the U.S.A., because a newspaper was looking for a new and novel gimmick to increase their circulation numbers. The Gordon Bennett Cup series which began in 1900, and was the most important automobile race in the world during 1903 to 1905, originated in exactly the same way; in this case the newspaper directly involved was the NEW YORK HERALD. In this fashion or manner, automobile racing, the greatest spectator sport of all (and the most dangerous) came into existence. Amen.

Edited by john glenn printz, 17 July 2009 - 20:17.

#41 john glenn printz

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 15:46

Racing 1894-1899 (cont-9) 1896 NEW YORK-IRVINGTON-NEW YORK (MAY 30) What Chicago had had, New York City could have too. In February 1896 John Brisben Walker (1849-1931), the publisher of COSMOPOLITAN magazine, proposed another horseless carriage contest to be held on 30 May 1896, i.e. Memorial Day. The course would be from New York to Irvington-on-the-Hudson and back, about 52 miles total. The winner would receive $3000 and like the Chicago run of 28 Nov. 1895, an umpire would ride in each vehicle. About 30 entries were received, 9 made an actual appearance, and 6 were ready on race day. All six were gasoline powered.

The six competitors were; (1.) J. Frank Duryea, Duryea No. 1; (2.) Charles E. Duryea, Duryea No. 2; (3.) E. B. Meekins, Duryea No. 3; (4) Henry Wells, Duryea No. 4; (5.) W. T. Brander, Benz/Roger No. 5; and (6.) W. L. Crouch, Crouch/Booth No. 6.

Like the Paris-Rouen (22 July 1894) and Chicago (28 Nov. 1895) trials, the speed alone was not to be the sole determining factor as to the winner. At first the various factors involved were to be scored as follows; Speed 50%, Simplicity of construction and durability 25%, Ease in operation 15%, and Cost 10%. But because of much criticism these four rating factors were modified to 35%, 30%, 25% and 10% respectively.

The contest got underway at 5 minutes to 12 noon at New York's City Hall. The No. 4 Duryea, driven by Wells, collided with a bicycle rider in the early going, who made a complaint to the proper authorities. Wells was soon put under arrest and his Duryea No. 4 motor wagon was confiscated by the police.

At half distance, i.e., the Ardeley County Club or Casino, the running order and arrival times were (1.) J. Frank Duryea, 3:15 p.m.; (2.) Charles E. Duryea, 3:30 p.m.; (3.) W. T. Brander, 3:44 p.m.; and (4.) E. B. Meekins, 4:35 p.m.

At 4:35 p.m. J. Frank Duryea was dispatched to return to New York where he arrived at 7:13 p.m. He proved to be the overall winner. His brother Charles, although delayed by a rainstorm, also completed the entire distance. The two Duryeas were the only finishers. The No. 3 Duryea lost a wheel, the No. 5 Benz/Roger had mechanical ailments, and the No. 6 Crouch/Booth encountered ignition trouble.

The $3000 prize was given to the Duryea Motor Wagon Company of Springfield, Massachusetts. The winning Duryea carriage was not the same vehicle in which Frank had won the Chicago Thanksgiving Day trial the previous year, but was a new, updated and improved model. There was considerable grumbling about the prize money. The winner took all here, while the other contestants got nothing. They felt that the sponson, the COSMOPOLITAN magazine, should have, at the very least, paid for their travelling and trial run expences. The event was considered a fiasco because of the few starters and because it was poorly managed. HORSELESS AGE in their June 1896 issue called upon the American Motor League to conduct any further automobile contests or races in the U.S., but there was no response apparently from the AML.

#42 john glenn printz

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 19:26

Racing 1894-1899 (cont-10) HISTORICAL EXCURSUS I. HENRY FORD AS THE INVENTOR OF THE AUTOMOBILE (JUNE 4, 1896). There are still many Americans who believe that Henry Ford (1863-1947) invented the gasoline automobile or, at least, had the first gasoline car in the U.S. One has to be very ignorant of all early, i.e. pre-1900 automobile history to believe that. Henry Ford constructed his very first car in late 1895/early 1896 but there were later claims made by the Ford Motor Company and by Henry himself that completely confused the record. In an ad that appeared in the October 1903 issue of AUTOMOBILE, the Ford Motor Company stated that the first Ford was built in 1893. At the once famous and long drawn out (1900-1911) Selden Patent Suit, Mr. Ford himself, under oath, claimed in July 1904 that he constructed his first motorized vehicle in the summer of 1892. Whether Henry was confused or just plain lying is difficult to say.

Rochester, New York, patent attorney George B. Selden (1846-1922) was granted a U.S. patent (No. 549160) on a gasoline/petrol motorized carriage on 11 March 1895. Starting in 1900 Selden and his associates claimed that a royalty was due to him on every gasoline engined automobile manufactured in the U.S. Many major auto companies, including that of Alexander Winton (1860-1932), payed the royalty to avoid lengthy litigation and a possible loss of the case in the courts. Selden and his cronies had seemingly cowed the entire U.S. gasoline motor car industry.

The Ford Motor Company, located in Detroit and then (1903) very small and unknown, refused to pay and strenuously asserted that Selden's patent was worthless and that Mr. Selden had invented absolutely nothing. The Selden trust now had no choice and brought suit againt the Ford Motor Company on 22 Oct. 1903. Henry Ford's statement that he had constructed his first car in late 1892/early 1893 (i.e. well before Mr. Selden's patent was granted), might well have been a smart tactical move by the defence. The whole Selden suit was finally closed on 9 Sept. 1911, and the court ruled in favour of the Ford Motor Company. The Selden trust had managed to collect over $2,000,000 in payments from the U.S. auto makers up to that date. Not bad, for what turned out to be a totally false claim, thrown out by the courts.

The Ford news bureau in the wake of the Selden case, repeatedly gave out that Ford's first ride in his first car occurred in the spring of 1893. In Ford's own supposed autobiography MY LIFE AND WORK, published in 1922, he writes on page 22, "In 1892 I completed my first motor car, but it was not until the spring of the following year that it ran to my satisfaction." And on page 33 he says, "My gasoline buggy was the first and for a long time the only automobile in Detroit." And again on page 21 we have, "On 31 May 1921, the Ford Motor Company turned out car number 5,000,000. It is out in my museum along with the gasoline buggy that I began work on thirty years before and first ran satisfactorily along in the spring of 1893. I was running it when the bobolinks came to Dearborn and they always come on April 2nd." A "bobolink", by the way, is an American songbird.

If what Ford states were true (it isn't), it would have put Henry in the running possibly for having the first successful petrol/gasoline powered automobile in North America. In the U.S. itself the major claimants for that honor appear to be John William Lambert with a three wheeler (1892), the Duryea brothers (1893), or Elwood P. Haynes (1894), with the Duryeas usually given the nod by critical historians. Random E. Olds (1864-1950) had made a steam powered machine as early as 1887. In Europe there had been petrol powered engined vehicles since Karl Benz's experiments in 1885.

Ford's 1896 Quadricycle stills survives and is on permanent exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum, located in Dearborn, Michigan, at the Greenfield Village complex. Ford did not construct another automobile until 1899.

Many of the early American auto pioneers tended to pre-date their achievements, as is perhaps, perfectly natural. There exists all kinds of claims and counter-claims, which are impossible to verify or deny. It is all a vast morass to which we decline to enter. Many older reference books on American automobile history date Henry Ford's first vehicle, the "Quadricycle", to 1892/1893 but all critical automotive historians today such as Allan Nevins, George S. May, James J. Flink, etc. specify 4 June 1896 as Ford's first ride in his first vehicle. Even the Ford Motor Company itself has long accepted it. Scores of horseless carriages of all types (steam, electric, and, gasoline/petrol) had been constructed before June 1896. Old Henry wasn't the first. He wasn't even close.

Edited by john glenn printz, 20 October 2011 - 12:43.

#43 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 19:46

The Selden Patent was a mess from the beginning, the patent and what was actually built being quite different. As manufacturers began building gasoline-powered automobiles, the holders of the Selden Patent, a Wall Street syndicate, began suing them for violating the patent. In 1903, a compromise arrangement was created -- the ALAM or Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers. Members of the ALAM paid a fee to the ALAM based upon the list price of the automobile. In 1909, the courts upheld the patent as a result of a case brought by Ford against the holders of the Selden Patent. However, two years later the decision was reversed with the court stating that the Sleden Patent could only be applied to automobiles with two-cycle engines.

#44 john glenn printz

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 19:01

Racing 1894-1899 (cont-11) 1896 PROVIDENCE (NARRAGANSETT PARK), RHODE ISLAND. (SEPTEMBER 7, 8, AND 11). In the May issue of HORSELESS AGE a full page ad appeared placed by the Rhode Island State Fair Association which announced five days, i.e. September 7-11, of automobile exhibitions and races with a total of $5000 in prize money up for grabs. The races would be staged at Narragansett Park, in conjunction with the Rhode Island State Fair, on an excellent one mile dirt horse track. As finally formulated the contest would consist of five, five mile heats, one to be staged each day, and from the results of all five an overall winner would be selected. There were 12 entries of which 8 materialized. Two were electric vehicles, a Riker and a Henry G. Morris & Pedro G. Salom "Electrobat", the latter of which had been lined up at the start of the Chicago Thanksgiving Day (28 Nov. 1895) contest. The other 6 autos were all gasoline engined Duryea motor wagons. Only one however was a factory car, driven by Charles Duryea, while the other five were all private entries which apparently included the one piloted by J. Frank Duryea.

The two electrics led every lap of the first heat (7 Sept. 1896), running 1-2 all the way, with the Riker winning. In Heat I the first Duryea to finish was 3/4's of a mile behind the victorious Riker. In Heat II (8 Sept. 1896) the Riker led all the way but the factory Duryea was 2nd, just seven seconds off the winning time. A severe rainstorm cancelled all the action for the next two days so that Heat III wasn't run until 11 Sept. 1896. Here the Riker led for four circuits but on the homestretch, on the last lap, the Electrobat spurted out ahead to win by one second. A Duryea, at half distance, was gaining on the two electric cars but then a tire puncture occurred and its challenge to the front runners was at an end. Heats IV and V had also been rescheduled for 11 Sept. 1896 but there had been long delays all around, and important horse races were still to be run, so the last two heats were completely cancelled.

The winning times for each successive heat had improved considerably and the best lap time was made by the Riker electric at 2 minutes and 13 seconds. The winning times for this three heat contest were: Heat I, 15 minutes, 1 second; Heat II, 13 minutes, 6 seconds; and Heat III, 11 minutes, 27 seconds. The winning Riker machine was designed by Andrew Lawrence Riker (1868-1930), who would remain a major figure in American racing for a dozen more years. The Riker was powered by thirty-two 100 ampere cells and had two electric motors of 3 horsepower each. The two motors were series connected and fitted with steel pinions which meshed into phosphor-bronze gears which drove the rear wheels. The total weight was about 1800 pounds.

All in all it had seemingly been a very poor showing for the six gasoline Duryeas but the short five mile sprint distances had certainly been favorable to the two electrics. The official final results (top three only) of the three heat contest were (1.) Riker Electric Motor Company, (1st, 1st, 2nd), for the three heats; (2.) Electric Carriage Wagon & Company, (2nd, 3rd & 1st) in the three heats; (3.) Duryea Motor Wagon Company, (6th, 2nd, 3rd).

Each carriage was required to carry a weight of at least 165 pounds in addition to the driver and all the entrants preferred to take this in the form of an added passenger who was either an employee or a good friend of the owner. The two electric cars weighed from 2200 to 2500 pounds in racing trim here with the added passenger included. The leading Duryea car weighed about 1200 pounds. The Electrobat was driven by Henry G. Morris in HEATS I & II and by Mr. Adams in Heat III. The prize money was divided as follows; (1.) Riker Electric, $900; (2.) Electric Carriage, $450; (3.) Duryea Motor Wagon, $270; and (4.) William Ashley & Son, $180.

The Riker Electric Motor Company, the winning car's manufacturer, was located in Brooklyn, New York, during the years 1896-1899. A. L. Riker eventually sold out to the Electric Vehicle Company in 1900. In the U.S., during the late 1890's, it was thought by many that an electric powered car was the way to go for a self-propelled vehicle but such optimism proved to be much mistaken. The Electric Vehicle Company, formed in 1897, with an authorized stock of $10,000,000 quickly found itself in dire financial need and bailed itself out only by making an alliance with "would-be" inventor, George B. Selden!

It was ironic that the Electric Vehicle Company became the trust organization which enforced the Selden patent claims on all the petrol/gasoline engined cars built in the U.S. By 1903 Riker was working for the Locomobile Company of America designing petrol/gasoline type automobiles. In 1902 Riker had switched his alliance from the electric to the now more promising gasoline engine powered car. One of Riker's Locomobile designs, originally constructed in 1906, won the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup run on Long Island, New York.

These three Narragansett Park, five mile sprint contests, were the very first oval track automobile races held in the U.S. But all the American contests of 1896 were petty much kid's stuff compared to the great ACF sponsored Paris-Marseilles-Paris, town to town road race to which we will next direct our attention.

#45 john glenn printz

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 15:15

Racing 1894-1899 (cont.-12) 1896 PARIS-MARSEILLES-PARIS (SEPTEMBER 24-OCTOBER 3). Already by January 1896 the ACF had agreed to hold a large race for the 1896 season in the "town to town" format. This time the trip would be from Paris to Marseilles and back, for a total distance of 1062.5 miles. The various and complete details of the event were ready by May 1896. All the useful experience gained in the 1895 Paris-Bordeaux-Paris affair was now utilized. No longer, as in the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris contest, would the race be continuous and without break but now the 1896 event was divided into ten separate and distinct portions or individual stages, each to be run on a different day. The shortest portion was 62.7 miles while the longest measured 136 miles. Each stage of the contest would now be held during the daylight hours, for driving at night was now eliminated as much too dangerous. For the first time the various competing vehicles were divided into five separate classes;

CLASS A CARS. Series 1. Cars seating 2, 3, & 4; Series 2. Cars seating more than 4.

CLASS B MOTOR CYCLES WEIGHTING LESS THAN 150 KGM. Series 1. Without pedals. Series 2. With pedals.


To explicate a little, the Class A, Series 1 cars were the light car class and the Class B, Series 2, were the heavy car class. All the racing cars proper were, of course, all ranked under the Class A, Series 1 category.

The start of the Paris-Marseilles-Paris took place, at the Place de l'Etoile junction, where the Arc de Triomphe (Arch of Triumph) is located. 32 competitors actually started, 29 gasoline and 3 steamers. After the first stage of 110.5 miles had been completed a fearful storm raged the next day with winds up to hurricane velocity accompanied by heavy torrential rain. Trees and poles of all kinds were uprooted and then thrown onto the water drenched highways. The cars were hard put to stay on the road. Amedee Bollee (1844-1917) crashed into a tree which was suddenly pitched into his vehicle's path by the high winds. Others too found the roadways completely blocked. Still most of the competitors pressed on if they could, but by the start of the third stage, i.e. after 204.3 miles, only 16 cars still remained in action.

It was still raining hard during the third stage but the winds had now died down a bit. Emile Levassor (1843-1897), the overall winner of the 1895 Paris-Bordeaux-Paris affair, led after the third section in the Panhard No. 5. On the fourth section Levassor hit a dog and the Panhard overturned. Emile was thrown out and was shaken up but appeared to be basically O.K. However Levassor turned the driving chores over to his riding mechanic d'Hostingue, beginning with the fifth segment. After the mishap they had dropped to 8th place in the running.

At the finish their No. 5 entry had moved back up to fourth, while another Panhard No. 6 piloted by Emile Mayade (1853-1898), won by averaging 15.7 mph for the 1062.5 distance. There were 14 finishers in all, the second day storm having apparently eliminated most of the weak. The average speed was slightly higher than that of the 1895 Paris-Bordeaux-Paris race even though the total milage was larger by 330.5 miles. It was very impressive considering the horrid weather conditions which had obtained on the 2nd and 3rd days. The gasoline/petrol internal combustion engined automobiles had shown their mettle under the worst possible and unforeseen circumstances and had passed with flying colours. Both the electric and steam carriages were now looking less and less viable compared to the gasoline powered vehicles.

The winning No. 6 Panhard et Levassor, driven by Mayade, had a four cylinder, 8 horsepower motor. Both the number of cylinders and the horsepower ratings were going up! Panhard cars placed 1st, 2nd, and 4th but their 2nd and 4th place vehicles were 6 horsepower models. De Dion tricycles place 3rd and 5th overall. The highest placed Peugeot was 6th. The Peugeot firm was originally ironmongers and manfactured such items as machine tools, umbrella spikes, nails, corsetry hooks, and bicycles. Their production figures for automobiles were; 5 in 1891; 25 in 1892; 35 in 1893; 40 in 1894; 72 in 1895; 92 in 1896, to 300 in 1900.

#46 john glenn printz

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 17:57

Racing 1894-1899 (cont-13) 1896 LONDON-BRIGHTON RUN (NOVEMBER 14). On 14 June 1896, J. Frank Duryea set sail for England on the ETRURIA with two Duryea motor wagons to investigate the prospects of selling such vehicles to the British and the French. Frank was to spend a total of two weeks in London and Paris showings his wares. J. L. McKim was apparently to be the American agent if any deals were arranged. Both Duryea and McKim were in England when the notorious RED FLAG ACT was completely repealed on 14 Nov. 1896. This act, originally passed in 1865, required that (1.) three persons attend all motorized road vehicles when in actual operation; (2.) that in certain districts a man had to walk in front of all such mechanical contrivances, carrying a red flag by day or a lit lantern by night; and (3.) that a maximin speed of 2 mph in the city and 4 mph out in the countryside, was not be exceeded.

With the rise of self-propelled vehicles in the early and mid-1890's these rules were obsolete, repressive, and truly ridiculous. For sometime the various British motor car clubs and associations, such as the "Self-Propelled Traffic Association" founded by Sir David Lionel Salomons (1851-1925) in November 1895, had lobbed against these ancient and now onerous road regulations. Finally it was known, in advance that on 14 Nov. 1896, the government would completely cancel (1.) and (2.), and that (3.) would be raised to 12 mph both in the city and in the countyside. These speeds were still unrealistic but represented a real advance nevertheless. The British AUTOCAR publication celebrated the occasion by printing its entire 14 Nov. 1896 issue in red ink.

In honour of this occasion of the repeal it was also arranged that about 55 prospective motor carriages would make a tour almost directly south from London to Brighton, a distance of 56 miles. It was not to be a motor contest or race in any sense at all. It was simply an "Emancipation Day" demonstration, a motor car trial, a parade, and a happy celebration on the date of the repeal of the more vexing aspects of the so-called RED FLAG ACT. It was all supposed to be a leisurely and pleasant tour for the participants and their adventurous passengers. That was all. Thus on the morning of 14 Nov. 1896, about 33 actual mechanical vehicles assembled at, and soon left, the Hotel Metropole to make a journey to Brighton.

The London-Brighton run of 1896 is a famous but very confused incident of English motor car history. Just what exactly happened and transpired on that day has been the subject of controversy from that exact day. All agree that the enterprize was badly managed and there are those who say that it was deliberately ill arranged and conducted. The true facts are probably unrecoverable.

It is agreed however that Mr. Harry John Lawson (1852-1925) was the instigator and organizer of the whole affair. No doubt the London to Brighton tour was to encourage and abet enthusiasm amongst the interested population and the spectators, about motor cars and automobiling. Lawson however appears to have been an almost totally unscrupulous financial juggler and con man who clearly saw that money was certainly to be made, in the not too distant future, with these horseless carriages hitherto so frequently laughed at. Lawson had already had made a fortune during the earlier bicycle craze and he could see the same bright future for automobiles as well. Lawson had already organized, in November 1895, a British Motor Syndicate which claimed to own all the important patents and manufacturing rights, both continental and British, on all modern motor car design and construction. Lawson was obviously aiming at a total monopoly of all automobile production in England. In February 1896 he further started the Daimler Motor Company Ltd. and in May 1896 Lawson came forward with another firm called the Great Horseless Carriage Company Ltd. The ostensible purpose surely, from Lawson's point of view, of the 14 Nov. 1896 London to Brighton excursion, was to get prospective buyers in an enthusiastic mood to buy and purchase stock shares in his new automobile companies.

#47 john glenn printz

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 19:43

Racing 1894-1899 (cont.-14) Although the London-Brighton event was not a race, the supposed times of the arrival of each of the cars at Brighton, was given out by Lawson's officials or personnel. Certain it is that the two Duryea carriages were among those vehicles that made the full 56 mile journey, but their participation and their arrival times at Brighton were not listed in any data given out or supplied to the newspapers or motor journals by Lawson's cronies. J. Frank Duryea claimed on the very night of the London-Brighton run that his motor wagon had made the quickest time. Frank had started the trip after almost all the other cars and vehicles had been dispatched and it seems to be certain that he was the third vehicle to arrive in Brighton, behind just two Bollee tricycles. Therefore Frank must have passed certainly most, if not all, of the other participants. A NEW YORK TIMES article (15 Nov. 1896, page 14) confirms Duryea's statement to posting the quickest time. Consult also the WASHINGTON POST (18 Nov. 1896, page 6) where it states a Duryea car "finished first." Those historians who maintain that only after many years did Duryea assert that he had run the fastest time, are mistaken. There were other disputes among the many participants, not involving the Duryeas, about their journey times and the exact order in which the various cars had arrived in Brighton.

With regard to the two Bollee tricycles which arrived in Brighton before Duryea, they pose no problem. The Motor Car Club, the nominal sponsors of the run (Lawson was its president), had arranged that a free lunch was available for all at Reigate. Duryea had availed himself of it and stayed for over an hour. Frank asserted that he was the first arrival at Reigate. It was agreed, of course, that the luncheon stop time would not be accounted as part of the actual running time. The two drivers of the Bollees (Amedee and Leon Bollee) elected not to stop at Reigate but rather drove straight on to Brighton and thus both had managed to arrive there well before Duryea. The Bollee tricycles were quite popular in the late 1890's and their performance was more potent than might be thought. Its single cylinder motor was rated at 2 horsepower. The design had two wheels in front with one in back and used pneumatic type tyres.

The arrival times printed in the LONDON TIMES (16 Nov. 1896, page 7) lists no Duryea vehicles at all. It gives the results (top five) as (1.) Bollee car No. 35, 2 hours, 30 minutes, 25 seconds, pm; (2.) Bollee car No. 37, 2:45:20; (3.) Panhard omnibus No. 48, 3:46:10; (4.) Mr. H .J. Lawson's car No. 1, 4:52:30.; and (5.) Panhard et Levassor No. 3, 4:53:15. The AUTOCAR (21 Oct. 1896, page 670) listing differs. It has (1.) Bollee, 2 hours, 25 minutes, pm; (2.) Bollee, 2:55; (3.) Duryea No. 48, 3:46; (4.) Panhard No. 6, 4:52.; and (5.) Panhard No. 3, 4:53. The AUTOCAR editors seem to have substituted a Duryea car for the earlier "Panhard Omnibus" as originally listed by Lawson's men. Variant arrival times for the two Bollee tricycles elicits distrust also. According to AUTOCAR, I might add, the two Duryea machines were assigned numbers 25 and 26. The second Duryea car does not appear in either the LONDON TIMES or AUTOCAR listings of the 13 finishers.

The second Duryea car is said to have had the 5th overall fastest chocking but was hampered in its speed by carrying a passenger weighting 250 pounds. No data on this second Duryea motorized wagon was given out either. Indeed it seems that, according to Lawson and his associates, the Duryea vehicles were simply not there. Yet the contemporary observers, reporters, and participants acknowledge that the two Duryea machines were not only there but, that they ran exceptionally well with a top speed of 20-25 mph and that their claims to have traversed the entire 56 mile distance with the 1st and 5th quickest times were probably correct. So why then their complete deletion from the quasi-official and the initial press releases?

Perhaps the explanation is simple. Lawson wanted people to buy into his new motor car enterprizes with his legal claims and supposed rights to all the important French, German, and British patents, and praising two U.S. built autos would have done Lawson little good. A typical piece of Lawsonian propaganda appeared on the cover of the 26 Sept. 1896 issue of AUTOCAR. Here on behalf of the "British Motor Syndicate, Limited", the assertion is made that the syndicate holds, "several hundred patents and inventions, covering the entire motor car car industry." According to Frank Duryea, Lawson offered to purchase the manufacturing rights to the Duryea design in England, and Lawson had offered a very fair price. But Lawson wanted to pay the debt in stock shares instead of cold cash and the deal wasn't agreed to. In any case, these two Duryea cars were the first U.S. made machines to take part in a European motor car event, but the whole 1896 London to Brighton trip is a tangled web.

Edited by john glenn printz, 06 December 2009 - 18:53.

#48 john glenn printz

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 13:53


1897. The year 1897, as far as motor racing is concerned, was an "off" year. In Europe there was no major long distance "town to town" races, as in 1895 and 1896, but rather three smaller events. In the U.S. no races appear to have been staged at all during 1897.

THE AMERICAN SCENE: THE INDUSTRY PROPER 1897-1899. By the end of 1897 the American automobile industry was still in the earliest stages of infancy. It is doubtful if a total of 75 vehicles of all three types (electric, gasoline, or steam), that actually ran, had been constructed in the U.S. Most of these, of course, had been experimental "one-off" prototypes. The sole commercial manufacturer of horseless vehicles in the U.S. was the Duryea Motor Wagon Company (1895-1898) located in Springfield, Massachusetts, which is said to have produced 13 gasoline wagons in 1896. Their entire production in 1897 was less than half a dozen, due in part because of incessant quarrels between the two brothers, Charles and Frank. However their 1896-1897 production figures are the very first for the U.S. automobile industry and it is here that the true history of the commercial production of automobiles in the U.S. begins.

Two of the great pioneers of this new American industry, i.e. Alexander Winton (1860-1932) and Ransom Eli Olds (1864-1950), became the heads of new companies in 1897, which intended to produce gasoline engined vehicles for sale. These were the Winton Motor Carriage Company located in Cleveland, Ohio (incorporated on 30 March 1897) with a capitalization of $200,000 and the Olds Motor Works located in Lansing, Michigan (incorporated on 21 Aug. 1897) with an initial capitalization of just $50,000. The Oldsmobile, not the Ford, was long the oldest continuous make of car in the U.S. The first prototype Stanley Steamer was constructed in 1897 and the make was first marketed the following year.

In 1895, the Pope Manufacturing Company located in Hartford, Connecticut had established an experimental motor vehicle department. The Pope company was then the leader in the manufacturing and design of bicycles in the U.S. In the 1890's the bicycle craze was then at its height. The Pope company experimented with various automobile designs trying both those powered by electric motors and gasoline engines. In 1897 the Pope firm began to market and sell electric vehicles using the same trade name for their famous bikes, i.e. Columbia. Secondary sources state that the Pope company produced about 500 vehicles, mostly electrics, during the two year span of 1897-1898. In July 1899 Albert Augustus Pope (1843-1909), the founder of the company, sold his motor vehicle department to the Electric Vehicle Company which itself had been formed in 1897.

The Electric Vehicle Company was the brainstorm of Isaac L. Rice (1850-1915). Rice had purchased an earlier firm called the Electric Carriage and Wagon Company, owned by Henry G. Morris and Pedro G. Salom. Morris had been a starter in the Chicago-Evanston-Chicago TIMES HERALD race of 28 Nov. 1895 and drove also in the first two heats of the Narragansett Park races of September 1896. All this led to, in January 1897, the first large scale plan to utilize the automobile in the U.S. Rice's idea was to build a huge fleet of electric battery powered cabs, and then place them in all the big metropolitan areas across America. By late 1898 there were about 100 of these electric cabs operationing in New York City. Rice's Electric Vehicle Company was now ready, in 1899, to instigate and promote this type of service all across the U.S.

On 20 May 1899, 17 separate electric vehicle cab service companies were incorporated to cover the District of Columbia, California, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin; to implement Rice's large scheme. Less than two months later (on July 12 1899) 4200 electric vehicles, worth $8,000,000, were ordered from the Columbia and Electric Vehicle Company, to be put into service as quickly as possible. The first deliveries were expected in August 1899.

In 1899 the production figures of the now combined Pope and Electric Vehicle Company is said to have been close to 1000 autos, the large bulk of which must have been produced for the further expansion plans of electric cabs in the larger U.S. cities. But during the years 1899-1900, both the projected and actual expansion of the whole project, was running into very serious trouble. The venture did not pay and was losing money in droves. The heart of the problem was the electric storage batteries. The batteries were costly to make because of the expensive materials used in them, weighed much too much, stored insufficent amounts of electrical energy, very quickly ran completely down, and were expensive to recharge, which took hours on end.

To recoup their mounting losses the Electric Vehicle Company made a deal with George B. Selden on 4 Nov. 1899 to enforce his 5 Nov. 1895 U.S. patent with regard to all gasoline cars, a story we have already alluded to earlier. Thus the first large scale enterprize to promote the automobile, in this case the electric, in the U.S. came to grief. Rice had picked the wrong form of power for horseless carriages. The gasoline engined auto, c. 1900 in the U.S., was about to show its complete superiority over the electric and steam types, its two technical rivals. The gasoline auto, had already done so in Europe, and decisively during the years 1895 and 1896, but the U.S. was way behind France and Germany in automobile construction and design. But in 1900 itself the electrics and steamers were still the most popular types in actual use in America. The failure of the Rice enterprize, pretty much ended all serious use of the electric car in the U.S., for it was no longer the way to the future.

#49 john glenn printz

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 17:16

Racing 1894-1899 (cont-16) THE AMERICAN SCENE: RACING 1897. Most histories of the beginnings or nascent U.S. automobile industry, covering 1895 to about 1910, give some coverage of the two 1895 CHICAGO TIMES-HERALD contests and some even mention the COSMOPOLITAN magazine affair of 1896. These horseless carriage exhibitions are given due credit for evoking genuine enthusiasm for automobiling and for being a kind of catalyst for inventors, designers, and investors in the manufacture of American motor cars. But oddly enough the contests of 1895 and 1896 did not lead directly to the establishment of the sport of automobile racing in the U.S. The years 1897, 1898, and 1899 are seemingly devoid of any really important America automobile races. The next truely significant U.S. race was staged ostensibly at Long Island, New York on 14 April 1900.

The sport in the U.S. had died after 1896 and it had to be started up all over again so to speak. It is true that in the March 1897 issue of HORESLESS AGE, five days of auto racing were announced for September 6-10, 1897 for the Providence, Rhode Island track. It apparently being their intention to hold motor car races annually in conjunction with the Rhode Island State Fair, but nothing more is reported. For whatever reason these events were not held and auto racing in the U.S. languished largely "still born" until its genuine revival in 1900 under the auspices of the Automobile Club of America, founded in 1899, and located in New York City.

After the two Duryea brothers and Andrew Riker the next major figure in American motor racing was Alexander Winton. Winton was born in Grangemouth, Scotland on 20 June 1860 and emigrated to the U.S. in 1878. Winton settled in Cleveland, Ohio in 1884 where he took up the repairing of bicycles. In 1890 he formed the Winton Bicycle Company to manufacture them. Winton brand bikes soon became a fairly common make in the late 1890's.

The first Winton automobile, a two cylinder job rated at 8 horsepower, was completed in September 1896. Winton had been at work on it since 1893. On 30 May 1897, during a demonstration trial, Winton himself turned one lap at Cleveland's one mile dirt horse track in 1 minute, 48 seconds for an average speed of 33.33 mph. Although Winton had built a second prototype car by this time, he seems here to have piloted his original September 1896 vehicle on this occasion. Winton's time was hailed as a new world's record (!) although the only other item which we have for comparision purposes was Riker's fastest lap recorded at Providence, Rhoad Island, of 2 minutes, 13 seconds (27.06 mph), made in September 1896. Winton's time, whether an actual record or not, at least gave everyone a mark to shoot at. Later, during 28 July 1897 to 7 August 1897, Winton made news once again by travelling from Cleveland to New York City in 78 hours and 43 minutes actual running time. The route went throught Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, and Albany.

Both of these stunts were of the nature of what today would be called "high performance" but neither was a racing event. But these two performance demonstrations gave Winton good evidence that reliability runs, speed trials, races, and open public performance tests of whatever type, were good for free, favorable publicity, and great too for the actual sale of cars. Winton would soon become the foremost U.S. exponent, during 1899-1904, of trying to use racing exploits as an adjunct for advertising purposes. Winton's production figures for motor cars was 1 in 1896, 4 in 1897, and 22 in 1898.

#50 YankeeRacer

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 01:57

The old Narragansett Park track was not located in Providence as many records indicate. It was located in the city of Cranston, about a 15 minute drive from where I live. The site is now housing, businesses and a baseball field.

There's a local museum, the Pronyne Motorsports Museum, located north of Providence in Pawtucket that is home to a lot of information on New England auto racing history. If you would like, I can scan some pics and make copies of info regarding the 1890s Narragansett Park races.