1914 French Grand Prix Centennial Celebrated
August 22, 2014 by Pebble Beach Concours d'ElegancePEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (August 21, 2014)
-- It has been 100 years since the flag dropped at the legendary 1914 French Grand Prix. Just a handful of automobiles that competed in this iconic race are known to have survived and most were reunited on the show field at this year's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on Sunday, August 17.
The 1914 French Grand Prix, often called the last great race, took place on July 4, less than a month before World War I began, changing motor racing forever.
The race consisted of 20 laps around the challenging Lyon Circuit, which was known for hairpin corners and rapid elevation changes that truly tested an automobile's full capabilities. A total of 37 entries representing Belgium, England, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland set off in pairs at 30 second intervals, but only 11 crossed the finish line that day.
In an amazing display of superiority, Mercedes finished one-two-three. Christian Lautenschlager took first place with his #28 Mercedes. Following close behind was Louis Wagner's #48 Mercedes, with Otto Salzer's #39 Mercedes coming in third.
On Concours Sunday three 1914 Mercedes French Grand Prix race cars gathered together on the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links, including the winning Mercedes now owned by George F. Wingard of Eugene, Oregon, who recovered this car 30 years ago. Joining the winning car was the original winning trophy generously shipped over to the Concours by Mercedes-Benz. The two other 1914 Mercedes French Grand Prix cars were shown by The Revs Institute of Automotive Research of Naples, Florida, and the Mercedes-Benz Classic Collection of Stuttgart, Germany.
Also in attendance were two more 1914 French Grand Prix participants -- a Peugeot as well as the #2 Opel driven by Carl Jörns to a tenth place finish despite suffering a major setback when his radiator failed early in the race. Jörns and his mechanic managed to fix the radiator in a record time of 12 minutes. The Opel was shown at the Pebble Beach Concours by The Keller Collection at the Pyramids, in Petaluma, California. The surviving Peugeot is now owned by Ann Bothwell of Woodland Hills, California.
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