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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
AT BALLYSHANNON.

THE RESULTS.

(Special Telegram from the Starting Point.)
The day of the great Motor Race was ushered in with brilliant weather. We drove to the course in the small hours of Thursday morning under a kindly sky tinged with the beauteous hues of the dawn. Early as the hour was – a.m. – the road to Ballyshannon swarmed with vehicles and conveyances of all descriptions, from the imperious motor with its commanding faugh-a-ballagh snort, to the humble cycle accomplishing with comparative tardiness its race through “the sleepless watches.” There were numerous pedestrians, and every passing motor called forth the pop of an inquisitive head from the wayside cottages. Kilcullen, and the approaches to Ballyshannon presented a scene of animation. If the other approaches to the course were as thickly beset with pleasure seekers quite a mammoth crowd must have witnessed the historic contest. So far as the Grand Stand and its enclosure were concerned, be it said at once that the attendance was on the sparse side, and not at all commensurate with the notability of the event. The private stands in Ballyshannon vicinity were rather poorly patronised, the Kilrush “Motor News” stand accommodating hardly more than 25 persons. For the site upon which this stand was erected a sum of £80 is said to have been paid!

The brilliant promise of the morning was not kept. By noon clouds gathered and there was threatening thunder and vivid discharges of lightning. The electrical disturbance passed off quickly, but soon after came on an irritating rainfall, which continued with slight intermissions to the close of the race, making matters most unpleasant for the sightseers.

The Press discharged their onerous duties under difficulties which cannot be exaggerated. The “Press Steward” seemed to be a myth of the official imagination, and the representatives of the various newspapers had to obtain information as best they could on their own resources. The telegraphic arrangements were, however, admirable and too much praise cannot be given to the efficiency of staff and instruments. Individually the officials, from the courteous Secretary, Mr. Orde, downwards, did their best to facilitate the Press, and submitted willingly to the bothersome personal enquiries which the scandalous defects in the Press arrangements rendered necessary.

Punctually at 7 o’clock the first car – a green Napier driven by Mr. S. F. Edge – was started on its journey, and received a hearty send-off. The start was rather on the slow side. Then at intervals of 7 minutes, in strict adherence to the programme, followed the cars of (2) the Chevalier de Knyff (France); (3) Owen (America), on a Winton car; (4) Jenatzy (German), on a Mercedes; (5) Jarrott (Great Britain), on a Napier; (6) Gabriel (France), on a Mors; (7) Mooers (America), on a Peerless car; (8) Baron de Caters (Germany), on a Mercedes; (9) Stocks (Great Britain), on a Napier; (10) Farman (France), on a Panhard; and (12) Foxhall Keene (Germany), on a Mercedes. The Winton car No 11 on the starter’s list, failed to start at its time 8.10 o’clock, owing to the carburreter[sic] getting choked, and it lost 40 minutes in getting into order – leaving Ballyshannon at 8.50.

The following table shows conveniently at a glance the times of starting, cars, names, etc.:-

Time of Starting

No.

Country.

Colour.

Make of Car.

Driver.

A.M.

7.0

1

Gt. Britain & Ireland

Green

Napier

Mr. Edge.

7.7

2

France

Blue

Panhard

Chevalier de Knyff.

7.14

3

U.S.A.

Red

Winton

Mr. Winton

7.21

4

Germany

White

Mercedes

M. Jenatzy.

7.28

5

Gt. Britain & Ireland

Green

Napier

Mr. Jarrott.

7.35

6

France

Blue

Mors

Mons. Gabriel.

7.42

7

U.S.A.

Red

Peerless

Mr. Moers.

7.49

8

Germany

White

Mercedes

Baron de Caters.

7.56

9

Gt. Britain & Ireland

Green

Napier

Mr. Stocks.

8.3

10

France

Blue

Panhard

Mr. Farman.

8.10

11

U.S.A.

Red

Winton

Mr. Owen.

8.17

12

Germany

White

Mercedes

Mr. Foxhall Keane.

Foxhall Keane’s car had just been sent on its journey six minutes when Edge’s return was signalled, and in a moment or two his car dashed past with a steady hum, which betokened an immense speed. As he tore past the Grand Stand he was loudly cheered, and went on for the circuit of the larger loop, having only been on view for a few seconds before the dust swallowed up himself and his car. Three minutes and a half later De Knyff went along in good form, and then
AN EXCITING INCIDENT occurred. The next car was signalled after a lapse of some minutes, and the cry arose, “Two cars.” Two cars there were, and as they tore down the hill to the Stand it was seen that the first was Owen, followed only by a matter of some 10 yards away by Jenatzy. The pace was a terrific one as they loomed up big to the view. As the cheers rose heartily to greet the oncoming riders, Jenatzy raised his hand to his cap to acknowledge the compliment, and a second afterwards as both hands grasped the steering wheel his machine seemed to leap in the air like a living thing and pass Owen. It was the first great feat of the day, and gave everyone something to talk about until Jarrott, going in grand style, swept past six minutes later. Then came Gabriel with his great Mors car, making a noise like thunder, and causing the earth to vibrate as the machine, with incredible speed, tore along at a rate which experts calculated must be close on seventy miles an hour. De Caters was the next to report himself, and then Winton, whose carburetter[sic] had choken[sic] when first he faced the starter, was sent off at ten minutes to nine to ride a forlorn hope, his lapsed time being, of course, counted against him. Farman and Keene passed on the completion of their round shortly afterwards, thus leaving Mooers and Stocks unaccounted for. The first round had been practically completed, Mooers and Stocks having failed to put in an appearance within their approximate times, when it became evident that something had broken down in the case of these riders. Subsequently it transpired that Stocks’ machine came to grief at Carlow, owing to its driver taking a wrong turn in error and running into a wire fence, to the disablement of the mechanism. Fortunately Mr. Stocks himself escaped with but a slight shock. This mishap was, alas! only a minor item in the
CHAPTER OF ACCIDENTS which distinguished the day. Jarrott when doing the second circuit met with a serious casualty at Stradbally. When turning a sharp corner his car struck the bank, rolled over, and got smashed. His mechanician[sic] was caught under the car. Jarrott pulled him out, and then the fellow fainted. A special motor car with a doctor was sent out for them. It is stated that Jarrott’s shoulder was dislocated, and the mechanician’s leg was badly injured. Mr. Jarrott, according to latest accounts, appears to have escaped with a slight injury to the shoulder. He was promptly removed to Rheban Castle. At a later stage in the afternoon, Mr. Foxhall Keene retired from the race, because of the belief that his axle was on the point of breaking, while Edge was much handicapped by tyre punctures sustained at various points. The Peerless car of Mr. Mooers collapsed on the Maryborough-Stradbally road, and no more was seen of it after the second circuit. On the whole the cars of the English-speaking nations seemed specially marked out for ill-luck. At the end of the race Edge was the sole survivor, and Winton’s car was “the last” of the Stars and Stripes. Though it stuck to its task with dogged resolution, and though appreciative cheers greeted its persistence, its performance failed to hold interest because of the hopelessness of its strivings. At the end of the third circuit the cars in the running were placed as follows:- Jenatzy was beating Knyff by 4m. 23sec; Farman by 4min. 31sec., De Caters by 13min. 7secs., Gabriel by 11min. 4 secs., and Edge by 42min. 22 secs.

The timings in the fourth, fifth and sixth circuit knit the issue between Jenatzy and De Knyff, with the probabilities strongly on the side of the German, whose form never flagged from the moment he came to the front in the second circuit. At 5.35 De Knyff came home on the finish of his last lap, but second in order of time to Jenatzy, who completed the seventh circuit at 5.39.

(Later.) Ballyshannon, 6 p.m. It was not possible to obtain precise results at the close of the race, as the returns had not been received from the various controls. The following, however, is the order of the cars on the basis of gross times, and there is reason to believe that this order will be but very slightly varied when the net declaration is made. It is certain at any rate that
GERMANY IS FIRST

in the person of Jenatzy, and that the Chevalier De Knyff has won second place for France. Gross times (calculated from hour of starting to hour of finishing and including delays in controls):-

Hours

Min.

Secs.

Jenatzy (Germany)

10

15

0 1-5

De Knyff (France)

10

25

40 4-5

Farman (France)

10

26

44 ½

Gabriel (France)

10

44

33

 

Gabriel’s friends seem to think he will rank third when the times are worked out.

Shortly after mid-day the attendance at the Grand Stand was augmented by the Vice-regal Party. The bank of the 11th Hussars, stationed in the enclosure, played “God save the King” as the Lord-Lieutenant arrived and entered the Vice-regal compartment. His Excellency motored down from Dublin. Among those also in the party were Lady Tronbridge, sister of the Countess of Dudley; Miss Keyes, General Maxwell, Lord Plunkett, the Hon. Cyril Ward, Mr. Fetherstonhaugh, Captain Cadogan, and Mr. Lionel Earle. Mr. Horace Plunkett spent some time in company with his Excellency.