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Local Studies Department

The Gordon Bennett Motor Race 1903 - Leinster Leader June 1903

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Leinster Leader, Saturday 4 July 1903, Last Edition – Page 5
THE WEIGHING AT NAAS
Naas, being on the highway to the course, was a lively thoroughfare for all sorts and conditions of cars from Monday morning to the eve of the Race. Not until Wednesday, however, when the cars were weighed, did the town make any real acquaintance with the machines and the personages of the event. On that day the spectacle was a memorable one – the Main Street being a rendezvous of at least four nationalities and the Market Place a babel[sic] of strange tongues. The weighing of the cars was due to commence at 11 o’clock and by that hour a crowd had assembled in the vicinity of the public weighing machine. There were amongst other notabilities early on the spot, the clerk of the scales, Mr. Samson, whose duty it was to ascertain and record the weights, as honorary officer to the various competing interests, and Mr J. J. Inglis, the Town Surveyor, who was an able “second in command,” so far as the practical work of the moment was concerned. The English, French, German and American competitors, with their mechanical assistants were all present, and the proceedings were followed with interest by spectators grouped around the machines, lining the footpaths, and occupying windows and balconies overlooking the Market Place. The two weighing machines (which had arrived on Wednesday and were stored in the town hall up to Wednesday morning) were of an ordinary size and type. They were located close to the “weigh-house.” A space slightly exceeding the width of a motor car separated them. Long, narrow, metallic supports grooved to receive the wheels of the cars rested on the pans of the respective machines. The wheels of the cars were guided into these supports. The right and left wheels of the car rested therefore on the respective pans of the two machines, and the weight was ascertained by adding the reading of the scale on the right hand side to the reading of the scale on the left. Thus, a motor which registered 9cwt. on the right hand side and 9cwt. on the left, would be returned as 18cwt. This information acquires interest from the fact that late in the day, when the French formally questioned the accuracy of the machines, in consequence of the high registers made by two Panhards, tests were made to discover whether there was any fallacy in the readings, due to variations of level or otherwise as between the two sides.

Considerable and wearisome delay was occasioned at the outset, while the standard maximum weight – the weight which no machine could be allowed to exceed - was fixed in English avoirdupois. Here the wide difference between the English and Continental metrical systems was the occasion of some confusion and discrepancy of result, and the need for some universal system of weights and measures, that would do away with all such bother and time-wasting on International occasions, received further emphasis from the conflict of calculations. At length 19cwt. 3qrs. and 7lbs. was arrived at as the standard maximum, and the weighing was proceeded with. The dashing and intrepid French motorist, Gabriel, whose machine (the famous Paris-Madrid car) was the first to depress the scale, and Edge, the holder of the English Cup, who weighed off at a later stage, were the two personalities perhaps on which interest was most concentrated. Edge alone of all the competitors was greeted with a hearty cheer, which he received with a modesty which is characteristic. Gabriel is also a modest, unassuming young fellow, albeit keen and alert, and is the very last in the world whom an uninitiated observer would suspect to be capable of the brilliant daring and absolute contempt of risk which have signalised his past performances.

Nothing notable occurred in connection with the weighing operations, until the Chevalier de Knyff, the moment Farman’s Panhard registered a weight of 20cwt. Odd, immediately raised a question as to the veracity of the scales. Mr. Inglis, (who was taking the readings at the “Post Office side” of the cars, Mr. Samson being engaged at the left), called Sergeant Boyle, the Inspector of Weights and Measures, and after some discussion between the French competitors and the Clerk of the Scales, arrangements were made for a test by the standard weights in Naas Police Barracks. After thorough investigation, the correctness of the scales was vindicated, and the French objection terminated, the cars being reduced the necessary amount by stripping them of everything save what was absolutely essential to the running of the car – cushions, tools, etc., being amongst the rejected appurtenances.

The following are the weights arrived at. There were not officially announced, being regarded, in the words of the Clerk of the Scales, as confidential:-

FRENCH.

Car

Driver

Weight

C. Q. Lbs

Mors

Gabriel (No. 1)

19

3

Mors

Gabriel (No. 2)

19

3

Panhard

De Knyff

19

3

7

(reduced from

19

3

26)

Panhard

Farman

19

3

(reduced from

20

0

10¾)

AMERICAN

Winton

Owen

17

0

21½

Winton

Winton

19

0

21¾

Peerless

Mooers

19

2

17

(reduced from

19

3

5)

ENGLISH

Napier

Edge (No. 1)

19

1

20¾

Napier

Edge (No. 2)

19

2

20

Napier

Jarrott

18

3

10¼

Napier

Stocks

19

1

GERMAN

Mercedes

De Caters

19

1

24½

Mercedes

Jenetsky

19

2

17

Mercedes

Foxhall Keane

19

3

3

Elsewhere Moers.

Jenatzy. Often one of the reporters refers to him as Janetzy but they have all been standardised to Jenatzy for convenience.

During the progress of the weighing the scene in the Main Street was most animated. The number of cars actually in and passing through the town – taking one period of 30 minutes as an example – must have considerably exceeded 100. The local hotels and improvised restaurants did a roaring trade. The foreign visitors were warmly welcomed everywhere, and expressed themselves highly satisfied with the cordial attitude of the people.

The police, under the direction of Head Constable Salmon, rendered much assistance and maintained good order.