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County Kildare History and Heritage

Gordon Bennett Motor Race 1903

Intro and Menu | July Articles

Leinster Leader, Saturday 4 July 1903, Last Edition – Page 5

The Curragh platform and Kildare being the points of railway communication which afforded the most ready means of approach to the northern and western points of vantage of the course, the number of persons who detrained at these points from the early special trains was enormous. The scene at Kildare on the arrival of the first special, which conveyed about 2,000 passengers, was a most extraordinary one. All kinds and classes of vehicles were lined along the way from the station right up to the Market Square to convey the spectators to their various places of rendezvous along the course. At the inward control there was also a scene of bustle, as this had been fixed on as a petrol station for the Mors and Panhard cars, and also for the Napier cars. The representatives of these companies were early astir and were in a state of preparedness long before the hour for the starting of the race. The early morning was clear but cold, and this coldness increased as the morning advanced, with the result that very few spectators were in the vicinity of the Kildare control until the time drew near at which it had been approximately fixed that the leading car would reach this control.

Winton’s arrival at the control, and his approach to it, was the fastest witnessed during the whole race, and in rounding the corner into the control it was only by his marvellous dexterity that an accident was averted, as his car skidded when rounding the corner, and rose high into the air. It was only after a series of jumps that the car righted itself again in obedience to his steady hand and excellent steering.
Towards one o’clock there were sounds of distant thunder, and shortly afterwards a heavy shower fell, which lasted for a considerable time. The interest had somewhat evaporated with the finish of the second round, as it was seen that the Americans were completely out of the race, and Edge was thought to be too far behind to make any show. During the passage of the cars through the control in the fourth round
took place. After de Knyff had passed the Market Square on his way to the outward control, a little boy named Sheridan ran into the middle of the roadway to look after the car. Jenatzy, who was coming close at the time, tried to keep clear, but, the car was too close to steer clear, and the boy was struck by the guard of Jenatzy’s car. He was knocked down and severely shaken, and was at once removed to the local infirmary.

In this neighbourhood the finest view was undoubtedly to be obtained at the Curragh heath. Here one had an uninterrupted view of the course for four miles, dead, straight, and level, and along this the pace of the cars was at times appalling. The policing of the course along this stretch was done by the military stationed at the Curragh Camp, under Captain Holland. The other parts of the course were patrolled by members of the R.I.C. All the arrangements seemed to work harmoniously, with the exception of the “privileges” afforded to the Press, which were nil. It was by a continual wrangle with the police that the Press were able to get into a position to obtain any information whatever. During the progress of the race several unsuccessful attempts were made to cross the course at the Curragh, and at least one arrest was made for trespass on the course there.