SPECIALLY PREPARED FOR THE SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN BY OUR PARIS CORRESPONDENT, The Paris-Madrid race, which was held on the 24th of May, has certainly been a unique event in the history of the automobile. Never before has there been shown a greater interest on the part of the public in an automobile race, and it is estimated that at least two million persons were ranged along the route at different points between Paris and Bordeaux. The event is also remarkable for the high power and great speed of the new machines, some of which undoubtedly reached 80 miles an hour. The face led off in the most brilliant manner, having no less than 228 starters, but after the finish of the Bordeaux stage, which occupied the first day, the news came of a number of serious accidents, including the death of Marcel Renault, and the race was not allowed to proceed further. As it is, however, it has been a great event and one which will long be remembered. The Mors machines have the form of an upturned boat, or a torpedo shape with sharply pointed front, which gives them a handsome appearance. The wheels are spread wide apart, and the radiator is placed between the front wheels and underneath the body of the car. The four-cylinder motor gives 80 or 90 horse power, with m/echanically operated valves and magneto ignition. The Mors racers have a transmission which allows four speeds, with direct driving at the high speed. The rear wheels are driven by chain gearing. The driver's seat is placed far in the rear, and the chauffeurs are thus almost entirely concealed behind the tapering front and offer but little resistance to the air. These cars were especially remarked for their handsome lines. They have a stable and solid appearance, mainly due to the wide spacing of the wheels and the low position of the body, which rests near the ground. Among the conductors of the Mors cars were Fournier, Gabriel, Augieres, W. K. Vanderbilt, Jr., and others, some of whom; are of the first class and have made many recftrds, while the remainder are very close to them in skill and sang froid. Vanderbilt and his white car attracted a great deal of attention, as he was one of the few Americans to enter the race. The Panhard & Levassor cars were also among the most prominent. They have not changed much in form since last year, but have been considerably improved; the motor is of the same size as that used in the Paris-Vienna race, but can now furnish 70 horse power. The cylinders are of steel, surrounded by copper water jackets. The inlet valves are now operated mechanically, and another improvement is a new type of carbureter, besides a larger fiywheel on the motor. The chassis is built of pressed steel. This year's type is remarkable for the unusual position of the motor, which is inclined toward the front at a considerable angle. This has been done in order to lower the center of gravity as much as possible and at the same time use a flywheel of large diameter, to give greater weight. So it was decided to tilt the motor toward the front, thus lowering one end while the rear end carrying the fiywheel is higher up. The seats are placed near the middle. The crank case, of square form and sloping toward the front, is terminated by the radiator, which has a ventilating fan placed behind it. The Panhard cars were mounted by a number of first-class conductors, Rene de Knyff, Henri and Maurice Farman, and Baron de Crawhez, who have distinguished themselves in preceding years, besides Heath, Rolls, Teste, and others not far behind them. The two favorites among the French racing cars were closely rivaled in interest by the German Mercedes car, and the Daimler Company made a special effort this year to construct a machine of great power and high speed. Although the Mercedes machines have a high reputation in general, it is only this year that a racing car properly so-called has made i t s appearance. Last year although not so powerful as their competitors, some of these machines were much more solidly built, and owing to the breakdown of their competitors came very near winning the Paris-Vienna race with Zborow-ski and De Forest at the wheel. Great attention was therefore attracted by the new 60 and 90 horse power Mercedes cars which arrived from Canstatt a few days before the race. These two types are the same in size, differing only in the motor. The 90-horse power cars are among the most powerful machines yet built. They have a somewhat square appearance and the seat is far in the rear, just over the axle. The four-cylinder motor represents all the newest ideas, and among other points has a double inlet valve which is mechanically operated. The motor is protected by the long box front, which is terminated by the honeycomb radiator .that this firm were the first to introduce, with its air-fan behind it. The body lies very low, and the wheels have a remarkable spread. The Mercedes cars were mounted by Werner, Baron de Caters, Degrais, Jenatzy, Warden, Foxhall Keene, Mr. Terry, the well-known American chauffeur, and athers. After the favorites comes the De Dietrich racer, which was remarked for its pointed shape. These machines are among the newest in the field, but they have already made a good record. The four-cylinder motor gives 45 horse power, which can be pushed to 60. The radiator is mounted just beyond the pointed front 472 of the car. Among the drivers were Lorraine Barrow, Stead, Jarrott--who won the Ardennes Circuit race last year--Gras, and others. Madame Du Gast, who had the remarlable courage to enter the high-speed race, having already distinguished herself on other occasions, was greatly remarked with her long pointed racing car. The Charron, Girardot & Voigt racer has the same general appearance as last year's type with a long box front ending in a radiator. One of this year's improvements is a newly designed gear-box with direct transmission at the highest speed. Charron, with his two associates, ho each mounted a car, were of course among the favorites. Alcohol was represented by a 110-horse power car of the Gobron-Brillie make, which was no doubt the most powerful in the race, but did not succeed in taking a good place. The motor has four cylinders, with two pistons per cylinder working in opposite directions. Steam was championed by the Serpollet and Chaboche cars, and of the former two new types were completed just before the race. Two of these machines give 20 horse power and the other two 40 horse power. These cars have somewhat the same construction as the racers used at Nice this year, but the exterior is considerably modified. The pointed front contains the water and gasoline tanks; the motor is placed in the center of the chassis and the boiler is now quite in the rear. Among the light-weight cars the Renault attracted the most attention as the winners of the Paris-Vienna race last year. These machines keep about the same design as before, with their triple-radiator mounted on each side of the pointed front. Marcel Renault and his brother Louis each mounted a machine. Another favorite was the Darracq light car, and this year's type is of low and square form, with a box front terminated by a radiator and containing a 4-cylinder, 30-horse power motor. The start took place from Versailles shortly after 3 o'clock A. M., on the 24th of Muy, and no less than 200,000 persons left Paris during the night to reach the town or some point farther along the road. The continuous procession of cyclists in innumerable file, each carrying a Chinese lantern, together with the automobiles, nearly all of which had turned out naturally to see the event, gave a festive air to the occurrence. It was intended to run the first stage to Bordeaux that day, or 331.2 miles, the next to Vittoria, 127.2 miles, and the last to Madrid, 325.8 miles, making a total of 784.2 miles. Over 50 tourists had left Paris a few days before on their way to Madrid to see the finish as well as to test the endurance of their machines. The machines were started one after the other in the order of their inscription, which had therefore no particular significance, as it was only the time occupied In making the run that counted. However, many of the leading champions had the first numbers. Shortly after 3 o'clock all was ready for the start, the road was cleared and the competitors were drawn up in file awaiting their turn. First in order came Jarrott on his De Dietrich car. At the signal given by the timekeeper, Jarrott came up to the line with his formidable machine ready to start. But it was still too dark to see the road plainly and so it was decided to wait a quarter of an hour longer for better light. After Jarrott came Rene de Knyff on his Panhard, then Louis Renault in his light car, and not far behind was Fournier, mounted on a Mors racer, then the long file of competitors. At 3:45 the signal for the start was given and Jarrott led off with a tremendous rush, disappearing in a cloud of dust. The other cars followed at intervals of one minute, and there were as many as 139 starters in the heavy and light weight classes. After these had all passed came the turn of the voiturettes, which were 36 in number, followed by 53 motor-bicycles which were started two by two in order to gain time. The greater number of spectators had left Versailles in order to see the cars pass at full speed, choosing the best places for watching the racers, some taking their position by a long stretch of road, others preferring the excitement of seeing the cars round a sharp turn at full speed. One of the best points lay at the foot of a long slope of good road between Versailles and Chartres, where the machines could be seen approaching from the top of the hill almost like specks in the distance, coming down with a terrific rush and passing at lightning speed. The sight was most impressive, and such high speeds have never before been attained under similar conditions. Unfortuiiately it will no doubt be a long time before such a performance is seen again in France. Renault was the first to arrive at Bordeaux, at 12:14:0, followed by Jarrott, Gabriel, Salleron, Baras, Baron de Crawhez, etc. The race was won by Gabriel, who covered the distance in 5 h. 13 m. 31 s. Renault took second place in 5 h. 39 m. 59 s., which was a considerable surprise, as it was not expected that a light weight car would gain over so many of the more powerful racers. The following is the official time of the winners, deducting for certain parts of the route where high speed could not be made, as in some towns and villages, which were not counted in the race. 1. Gabriel on a Mor.\ ear, time 5 h. 13 m. 31 s. 2. Louis Renault, Renault light car, time 5 h. 39 m. 59 s. 3. Salleron, Mors car, 5 h. 46 m. 0 lr5 s. 4. Jarrott, De Dietrich car, 5 h. 51 m. 55 s. 5. Warden, Mercedes car, 5 h. 56 m. 30 4-5 s. 6. De Crawhez, Panhard car, 6 h. 1 m. 8 2-5 s. 7. Voigt, Charron, Girardot & Voigt car, 6 h. 1 m. 9 1-5 s. 8. Gasteaux, Mercedes car, 6 h. 8 m. 0 s. 9. Ach. Fournier, Mors car, 6 h. 11 m. 39 s. 10. Baras, Darracq light car, 6 h. 12 m. 49 s. IL Rougier, De Dietrich car, 6 h. 16 m. 7 4-5 s. 12. Mbutier, De Dietrich car, 6 h. 17 m. 54 1-5 s-, etc. In the different classes, heavy cars, light cars, voiturettes and motocycles, the order is as follows: For the heavy cars the order is the same as above, leaving out No. 2 (Renault light car) and No. 10 (Darracq light car). For the light weight class the winners are: 1. L. Renault, Renault car, 5 h. 39 m. 59 s. 2. Baras, Darracq car, 6 h. 12 m. 49 s. 3. Page, Decauville car, 6 h. 19 m. 8 1-5 s. 4. Hemery, Darracq car, 6 h. 52 m. 33 1-5 s. 5. Pellesson, De Dion car, 7 h. 12 m. 43 1-5 s. 6. Thery, Decauville car, 7 h. 13 m. 16 s. 7. Edmond, Darracq car, 8 h. 0 m. 34 1-5 s. 8. Sincholle, Darracq car, 8 h. 4 m. 7 2-5 s. 9. Osmont, Darracq car, 8 h. 29 m. 40 2-5 s. 10. Bardin, De Dion car, 8 h. 30 m. 13 3-5 s., etc. The winners in the voiturette class are: 1. Masson (Clement voiturette), 7 h. 19 m. 57 1-5 s. 2. Barillier (Geo. Richard), 7 h. 39 m. 0 3-5 s. 3. Wagner (Darracq), 7 h. 47 m. 12 1-5 s. 4. Combier (Geo. Richard), 8 h. 7 m. 26 1-5 s. 5. Holley (De Dion), 8 h. 22 m. 19 s., etc. For the motor bicycles the order is as follows: 1. Bucquet (Werner) 8 h. 57 m. 1 s. 2. Demester (Griffon), 9 h. 3 m. 44 s. 3. Jollivet (Griffon), 9 h. 25 m. 54 2-5 s. 4. Cissac (Peugeot), 9 h. 39 m. 36 s. 5. Lanfranchi (Peugeot), 9 h. 50 m. 40 s., etc. The first honor therefore falls to Gabriel with his Mors racer, and our engraving shows the winner as "he crosses the line at the finish. Louis Renault, with the light-weight Renault car, confirms the victory of this type in the Paris-Vienna race, making the second best time, and the photograph shows him as he arrives at Bordeaux. The Renault car thus takes the first place in the light-weight class. The Mors racers also carry oft third place with Salleron, which gives them a decided victory, even though some of their best drivers were not able to finish. Henri Fournier and Augieres both had accidents en route, but were fortunately not injured, while Vanderbilt could not finish on account of a punctured tire. The Mors cars also took ninth place with Achille Fournier. The De Dietrich wins its laurels against the older machines, taking fourth place with Jarrott, while the Mercedes, although they certainly made a high speed on the road, did not come up to the general expectation, and only reached fifth place with Warden. The Panhard cars had still worse luck, as most of their best conductors had been disabled on the road owing to accidents, the Farman brothers and Rene de Knyff being hos de comhat. The Panhard cars thus take sixth place with Baron de Crawhez. Another new machine to take a good place is the Charron, Girardot & Voigt, which now shows that it must be counted among the leading types, as it reached seventh place, mounted by Voigt. One of the Mercedes cars took eighth place, then came a Mors, followed by a Darracq light-weight car, which thus gained over the majority of heavyweights. Most of the above mentioned machines are illustrated in the current issue of the Supplement, where a more detailed description of the various cars and the race itself will be found. In the light-weight class Renault comes first in order, then the Darracq, both these cars making a good record. Then comes a Decauville, with another Darracq, and fifth a De Dion-Bouton. The voiturettes are led by Clement, followed by Geo. Richard and Darracq. Only eight motor-bicycles were able to finish. A Werner takes first place, mounted by Bucquet, followed by two of the Griffon type and two Peugeots. As to speed, the results of the race were a surprise to all. It was expected that in view of the recent records which have been made on the road, the distance from Versailles to Bordeaux, or 331 miles, would be covered this year in 5y2 hours, which would be a remarkable performance, since the Southern Express takes 7 hours to make the distance. But in fact the winner, Gabriel, covered the ground in 5 hours 13 minutes, which represents an average speed of 63.45 miles an hour, and this was kept up over bad stretches of road, over drains and crossings and the numerous obstacles which were encountered. As to the highest speeds which were made by the new cars, there is little doubt that many of them ran as high as 70 or 80 miles an hour over parts of the road, and it is probable that never before have such high speeds been attained by automobiles. It is to be regretted that this splendid performance was marked by a number of accidents, both to the chauffeurs and the spectators of the race, and some of these were of such a grave character that the authorities were obliged to stop the race at Bordeaux, fearing that further damage would be done along the remainder of the route. The most painful accident was that of Marcel Renault, which resulted in the death of this well-known chauffeur and winner of the Paris-Vienna race. It appears that Renault was following close behind Thery, not far from Bordeaux, and waited for the most favorable moment to pass him. At this point were two turns in the road which are rather dangerous. In trying to pass Thery, Renault kept up full speed, but made too wide a turn and one of the wheels caught in a ditch at the side of the road and broke off short. The car went head down and turned completely over. Renault was thrown head first against a tree and had his skull fractured. He remained unconscious for some time and his recovery was hoped for, but he did not survive. The death of Renault is the most regrettable accident of the race, and has been deeply felt by those who esteemed him for his skill as well as his personal qualities. His machinist was also severely wounded. Lorraine Barrow had a serious accident shortly after leaving Libourne. While going at full speed a dog ran under the wheels, causing the car to make a terrible swing to the right, running it into a tree while at a speed of 60 miles an hour. The machinist, Pierre Rodez, was thrown against the tree and instantly killed. Lorraine Barrow was found in an unconscious state and sustained various injuries, but at last reports it is thought he will recover. Near Mont-guyon, Mr. Stead, who piloted a De Dietrich car, tried to pass another racer in front of him and a collision took place. Stead was thrown out, and although injured, is expected to recover within a short time. Madame Du Gast, after having passed among the first, stopped for nearly two hours to look after Mr. Stead and was thus considerably behind in the race. The machinist was killed outright. A number of accidents are reported among the spectators. A soldier named Dupuy and several others were killed. M. Georges Richard, the well-known automobile constructor, while conducting a racing car, ran into a donkey-cart and was thrown from his machine, but is only slightly injured. The car piloted by Mr. Terry, the American chauffeur, had a collision with a competitor and was completely burned, as the gasoline reservoir took fire. Details of this disaster are given in the current issue of the Supplement. Owing to the numerous accidents, the authorities refused to allow the race to proceed further than Bordeaux.
This article was originally published with the title "The Paris-Madrid Automobile Race" in SA Supplements 55, 1433supp, 470-472 (June 1903)