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County Kildare History and Heritage

Gordon Bennett Motor Race 1903

Intro and Menu | June Articles

Leinster Leader, Saturday 20 June 1903 – Page 8

The entire surface of the course has been considerably improved by the work in progress since April. In few places, such as between Monasterevan and Kildare low marginal portions of the roads have been raised. The steep gradients at Rialto Bridges have been reduced to slopes of “one in forty.” The principal of these are the Lerr Bridge, Wilson’s Bridge, near Castledermott, 3 bridges between Athy and Ballyshannon, 4 between Monasterevin and Kildare. At Halverstown Cross Road where there was a sudden dip at the junction a slope has been nicely carried to at least one in forty. The fillings at each side of the Rialto Bridges have all been steam-rolled. The entire work has effected a valuable improvement in the roads treated.

Mr. E. Glover, County Surveyor, on Wednesday got a letter from the Post Office authorities asking for permission to lay an underground cable from Kilcullen to the Vice-Regal stand at Ballyshannon. The necessary permission was granted.


Our Athy representatives writes that he has interviewed Mr. Winton, President of the Winton Motor Carriage company, and one of the competitors in the forthcoming Gordon-Bennett Motor Race, at the Rectory Timolin, where, with Mr. Owen he has taken up his residence since Wednesday evening. Asked what effects the burning of the Mercedes cars at the Daimler Motor Company’s works at Cannstatt would be likely to have on the International contest, and Mr. Winton replied:-
“It won’t have any effect, as far as I know, I don’t see why it should.”
I pointed out that the three racing cars of the Germans were burned, when he remarked,
“Oh, they will get others. They will pick up three machines for the race.”
“You think they will get cars, in any event and compete?” I asked.
“Oh yes,” replied Mr. Winton. “Certainly I don’t know anything about the facts of the burning only what I heard.”

Asked as to how he would like the course, Mr. Winton said he had been round the western circuit for the first time on the previous evening in company with Mr. Owen and Mr. Orde, Secretary of the Automobile Club. They[sic] two former met Mr. Orde at Kildare, and went through Monasterevan, Stradbally, Ballylinan, Athy, to the starting and finishing point at Ballyshannon. He thus covered most of the course. He said his impression of the course was that it was a very good one he added – “It is fine. They could not have better roads. They are simply marvellous in the country. They are as good as any French roads I ever travelled over. There is only one difference, and that is that probably they are not quite so wide, the surface is just as good. Of course, we have got no roads in America to compare with them at all. The country is simply beautiful, and I like the people very much.” “I like,” he added, using an Americanism, ‘the whole business.’ We have a nice residence, and everybody has been very kind to us.”
Asked as to whether he considered the roads in every way suitable, he replied,
“Oh, certainly. I have been pretty well over America – I know every corner of it – and I have no hesitation in saying there are no such roads in the States. We have no roads in the States to compare with any of your roads here.”

Mr. Winton, who on the previous evening saw Simmons’ Cross and other sharp angles agreed with Mr. Jarrott and Mr. Edge that those do not constitute the real danger, and when asked at what speed corners or angles like those would be likely to be negotiated he replied, “Oh, well, I would say about fifteen miles an hour.”

Mr. Winton, and Mr. Owen have each with them in Timolin a racing car and a touring car. When reminded that the English competitors would have two racing cars to elect from he remarked, “Oh, well, we are so far away from here we could not very well bring more than one racing car each.”
Mr. Winton’s racing car has a wheel base of 9ft 6in., and weighs, without being charged with petrol or water, 2,150lbs. Mr. Owen’s car weighs 1,450lbs only and has a wheel base of 8ft 6in. Mr. Winton’s car is about 60 h.p., and that of Mr. Owen’s 30h.p.
“Of course,” added Mr. Winton, with a smile, “the power will depend on the speed at which the car is going. The higher the speed is the greater the power.” Asked to whether he would sue the racing car over the course, Mr. Winton answered in the negative, remarking further –
“We have been requested not to go over the course with the racing cars.” He suggested that there was no stringent rule against doing so, but that the competitors were bound in honour to obey or respect the request.”

Asked to what he thought of the probability of accidents occurring. Mr. Winton remarked, “Oh, I don’t see why accidents should occur. Accidents will happen in everything – no matter what form of sport you take – you can’t avoid accidents; but there is no reason why we should have an accident”.
Reminded of the number of fatal accidents which occurred in the Paris and Madrid race, he remarked, “Oh, that was because the course was not properly guarded. I believe that the chief cause of the accidents.”
Mr. Winton concluded, “You have a beautiful country. I shall come again. We have not as good roads or as nice a county in America. And you have such a number of singing birds. It was lovely to hear them this morning.”
Reminded that he had somewhat of a Scothch accident[sic], Mr. Winton remarked, “Yes, I am a Scotchman, but an American citizen. I left Scotland when a boy. I’ll put the American flag up here in a few minutes.
Mr. Winton is married, and has with him his wife and a boy aged 14 years. Asked as to their chances of winning the Cup, he said it would be impossible to form an opinion but they “had no hopes, and they had no fears.”
Mr. Winton stated that they have no road races in America. All races are on the track. In the chief cities of the states there are tracks for trotting matches and motorists utilise those for motor contests. Mr. Winton holds the record for the mile on the track. He covered the distance in one minute and two seconds. “You can’t,” he said “go as fast as on a straightaway course.” He also holds the record for a mile on the half mile track. He covered the distance in one minute and twenty eight seconds. The tracks are oval-shaped. The mile consists of a straight run of a quarter of a mile straight on either side and a semi-circular quarter at either end. The width of the track is 200 yards on the side of starting and 160 yards on the off or back straight stretch. Mr. Winton has frequently seen six motor cars start in a bunch and never knew of an accident.
Mr. Moers, who represents the Peerless Manufacturing Co., has no connection with Mr. Winston’s[sic] Company. With Mr. Winton, however, and Mr. Owen he will fight the battle of the United States.