Skip links and go to Page Content
Skip links and go to Page Content

County Kildare History and Heritage

Gordon Bennett Motor Race 1903

Intro and Menu | May Articles

Leinster Leader, Saturday 2 May 1903 – Page 7.

Much disappointment (says the “Daily Express”) has been expressed at the eliminating tests held last week to decide the third English car for the Cup team: but the public overlook the fact that it is well-nigh impossible to determine straight away on a mile stretch what car is most suitable for a race of three hundred miles. That is the task set before the Automobile Club, for they cannot conduct their trials on the open road. So great is the prejudice against motoring in many parts of England even now that the police have been stirred up to fierce activity. Mr. Balfour’s driver was fined last week, for the third time, for having exceeded the very absurd legal limit of twelve miles an hour which prevails in England. His Majesty must have broken the law practically every time he took a motor trip; and many worthy people feel aggrieved over it. The prejudice against high speed motoring is so strong that no racing trials can be held on English roads, and, therefore, the Automobile Club have to select the car by a number of time tests over short distances, and it will be some time ere they can arrive at a decision. The Napier Company had to send their cars to France in order to try their speeds.

It would seem, however, that a number of people who have not been, and never would have been, selected for the Cup race are using the Irish course already as if they were engaged in the actual contest. This is causing much unpleasantness locally and if not put a stop to, it may lead to some bad accidents before the race. The motorists who indulge in scorching through the midland villages are of the thoughtless and caddish class to be found in every pastime. Motor cyclists, also, are very great offenders in the same way, but they being generally young and thoughtless men, are not so much open to criticism as the responsible owners of large cars which travel at quite as fast a pace, and prove more terrifying than the cycles. Many of these drivers are unfitted through their inexperience and temperament to travel at a fast pace in crowded localities, and they are more liable to cause disaster than a man like Mr. Edge when travelling at three times the speed.

There may be more than half a dozen balloons over the course on the day of the great race. If there were a large number, it might be possible to arrange a balloon race also. It would be a little outside the automobile programme, but seeing that the club have events at present on earth and water, it would tend to completeness if they also had a contest in the air. The balloons will be most employed by English and American newspapers, several of which are making most elaborate preparations for the race. The balloons should afford a very good view of the race, though the most thrilling effect of seeing the cars thunder up at close distance will be lost to their occupants, and the race will resolve itself into a crawling of twelve specks around a great circuit.