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Gordon Bennett was in a right pickle. The 2nd of the runs named after himself, aka the III Coupe Internationale, held in 1902, had been won in France, by Selwyn F Edge, the famous British racing driver. This meant that the hosting of the next event, in 1903, fell to the British – but there was a problem. In fact, there were several problems.
Gordon Bennett was in a fix. His beloved race was to be transferred from automobile-loving France to automobile-hating Britain, where, it has to be remembered, the notorious Red Flag Law had only been repealed six years previously. Things weren’t looking good.
But wait – was there any part of the Empire where such entrenched attitudes didn’t prevail? Indeed, there was, and right next door – Ireland! As a mainly agricultural society where the horse still ruled supreme, and with a total count of fifty cars (yes, fifty!) over the whole island, the people of Ireland were virtual strangers to this new-fangled mode of transport and were found to be far more kindly disposed to any new and exciting motoring venture.
Approval was sought and obtained; a 90-mile figure-of-eight closed course was laid out going through the towns and villages of Counties Kildare, Carlow, and Laois; and, on the 2nd of July 1903, with the help of hundreds of police and marshals, a claimed one million spectators (most of whom had never even seen an ordinary motor car before) were treated to the sounds, smells, and sheer speed of these magnificent machines, driven by the drivers of the day.
This, the 3rd Gordon Bennett, was the race which saved motor racing for posterity. The combination of closed public roads along with strict policing and marshalling made a potentially dangerous pursuit relatively safe.
The Committee of the Historic Racing Car Association has decided that it is time to emulate these brave men in their fantastic machines. Let the highways and byways of Kildare, Carlow, and Laois reverberate once more to the sounds and smells of veteran and vintage machines as they wend their way along the actual roads and lanes which were used in the Race which set the standard for all future Grand Prix events. It is proposed to hold a commemorative Reliability Trial on the weekend of the 2nd of July 2022, open to any machine, two- three-, or four-wheeled, manufactured up to and including 1939. The event will be centred in the Square in Athy alongside the Shackleton Museum where there will also be exhibitions etc and the public can get up close and personal with these historic cars. This, it is felt, would be more in keeping with the spirit of the original Gordon Bennett IV Coupe Internationale.
A memorable and enjoyable weekend is guaranteed, even for those not particularly interested in motor racing. For further information please contact the event secretary email@example.com or call any of the following
Ken McAvoy 087 2580727 Liam Ruth 087 617 5193 Mark Fleming 087 272 5545