The last race I covered, the 1898 Paris to Amsterdam to Paris race, ended on July 13th. At the end of the month, on July 22, 1898, the standing 100 kilometer record was broken. Jamin set the new record at 1:53:15. In doing so, he beat the previous 100 km record by three minutes and thirty seconds.
According to Gerald Rose, about a week later, there was a race from Lille to Calais. It was only “remarkable for the large mortality in live-stock which occurred at the same time.” Then, on August 21, 1898, the last major race of the year took place.
1898 Bordeaux to Biarritz
On August 21, 1898, the Bordeaux to Biarritz race marked the final major race of the 1898 racing season. The route, starting in Bordeaux, went through Le Réole, Marmande, Casteljaloux, and Mont de Marsan. The race was set for 180 miles.
The race was “tropically hot” according to Gerald Rose. The competitors, and particularly the motorcyclists were exhausted after the 180 mile race.
Giraud started in a Bollée. He was soon passed by Lemaitre, a participant in the 1894 race from Paris to Rouen.
Lemaitre was in the lead until he came up on a gated bridge at Marmande. As he approached, the bridge-keeper through the gate closed, forcing Lemaitre to slam on his breaks. In doing so, Lemaitre destroyed the rear-end mechanicals of his Peugeot. Lemaitre and bridge-keeper got in a heated argument lasting until the townspeople threatened to throw the bridge-keeper into the river, below.
There was also some sort of cattle affair, which the drivers has to get special permission to drive through.
In the end, Loyel’s Bollée was first in 6:48:00, at an average speed of 26.7 miles per hour. Mr. Koechlin, of the tiny suit shenanigan from the last post, was second. He finished in 7 hours and 36 minutes.
Lemaitre, in a Peugeot, was third, in spite of his run in with the bridge-keeper. He completed the course in 8 hours and four minutes. There were no other timed finishers.
1898 Saint Germain to Vernon to Saint Germain.
This was a minor city to city race. It took place on October 20, 1898, and was only for the make, “Mors.” Tires, and especially the puncture thereof, continued to be problematic. Otherwise, the race was rather uneventful. It was certainly only a minor, one-make, late-season race, decades before the days of a championship.
And so, the 1898 season came to a close. The seasons are still very loosely structured. Paris remains the center of the racing world. However, the tentacles of influence of the grassroots motoring movement are reaching farther and farther into continental Europe. Moreover, the regular racing is causing cars to develop at a comparatively rapid rate.
A Brief Commentary.
Altogether, these late season races, and really all of the 1898 races exemplify the problems of the “great” city to city races. Essentially, unforeseen obstacles inevitably are both dangerous and dispositive to the race outgoing. In other words, externalities were causing drivers to lose, when they were otherwise fastest and most reliable. For example, Lemaitre would have done much better had he not needed to deal with the bridge-keeper. I, for one, will champion the advent of proper circuit-based racing.
On a separate note, as the creator and author of GPevolved.com, I question what is the useful scope of this blog. A gather this is a problem forced upon most any non-fiction writer. How microscopic must you be to tell a story accurately? At what point do you lose the forest through the trees.
Certainly, there is no need to go into every hillclimb and speed trial. Well, even that cannot be made a rule to govern the scope of this project. For, if it did, I would miss the entire story of La Jamais Content. So, perhaps, it is a matter of judgment. In any event, stay tuned for the next story about Camille Jenatzy and the electric racer that made him the first person to average faster than a mile a minute.
/ Travis Turner of GPevolved.com
Gerald Rose, A Record of Motor Racing 1894 – 1908 (1949).