The 2014 Paris to Madrid Classic Reliability Trial was conceived to celebrate the original 1903 Paris to Madrid race and in particular to honour the achievements of Charles Jarrott, the blacksmith’s son, who became Britain’s first recognised motor racing driver and who led the field in the 1903 rally.
As the 1903 Napier 7.7 litre car that was driven by Jarrott in the Gordon Bennet Cup (just a few weeks after the Paris to Madrid race) is now one of the stars of the National Motor Museum Collection, it seemed only fitting that it should star in the 2014 rally.
This time, in the driving seat, were Beaulieu One Hundred member Mike Timmins accompanying Museum Manager and Chief Engineer, Doug Hill.
On the morning of Friday 23 May the National Motor Museum’s 1903 Napier left the start line of this historic car rally wearing the number 1 that Charles Jarrott’s car had worn when he began the same race 111 years before.
The awesome power of the Napier’s huge four cylinder engine drew a fantastic response from the other participants as this historic racing car left Versailles at a pace equal to many more contemporary vehicles – even indulging in a modest power slide on the damp early morning roads out of town.
The car created a sensational response from all who saw her and performed wonderfully until a blockage in the fuel supply reduced engine power. During the morning the fuel lines had to be cleaned out several times and when the impeller on the water pump shaft also came loose, the decision was made to proceed no further that day.
Overnight the pump was repaired and the Napier continued to impress on the drive from Limoge onto Madrid. Although not completing the entire distance each day, the Napier gave a fantastic display of its capabilities.
“My respect for this vehicle and for Jarrott and his fellow competitors, who 111 years ago competed at average speeds of 80 kph on unmade roads, is colossal.” Mike Timmins
The 1903 Napier is a significant vehicle in the history of British motor sport and is one of the oldest surviving British racing cars. It represents the heroic pioneering era of continental road races and the Gordon Bennett Cup and demonstrates just why the National Motor Museum needs support to maintain and run these pioneering motor vehicles for the nation and future generations to appreciate and admire.
For further details of how you can sponsor this or other cars please visit Sponsor a Vehicle.
Note from Blog Editor: Thank you Mike for sharing your experience. Glad you enjoyed it!