One hundred and twelve years ago, in the early hours of May 24, 1903, pioneering British motorsport hero Charles Jarrott roared away from Versailles on his Napier, the first car on the ill-fated Paris-Madrid road race. He and his fellow competitors were destined never to reach the Spanish capital. The race would be stopped at Bordeaux after a series of terrible accidents, occasioned by fragile cars running through dense crowds of spectators unaccustomed to vehicles travelling at up to 80mph, and with that the great era of city-to-city racing came to a shuddering halt. Motor racing was simply too dangerous for the public road, and would in future be confined to closed circuits.
Two years ago, at a slightly more civilised hour on May 24, 2013, period-dressed participants in our first Paris-Madrid Rally set off from Versailles to complete the course of the 1902 race. First away was the 1903 Mercedes 60hp of Chris and Tim Scott (pictured above) followed by another 50 pre-war cars and a couple of classics. Any notion that this would be a comfortable cruise were soon dispelled as crews ran into freezing rain and hailstorms on the way to the first night halt at Angouleme, but thankfully the weather improved as the rally headed over the Pyrenees to Pamplona and thence on to Madrid, where at a glittering gala dinner and prizegiving at the Ritz Hotel, overall winners Alastair Caldwell and Catriona Rings were presented with the Charles Jarrott Trophy.
Exactly 12 months later, on the second Paris-Madrid Rally, Caldwell won again, this time navigated by Laurel Smith, and we now wait to see whether he can repeat the achievement on our 2016 Paris-Vienna Rally, where again the Charles Jarrott Trophy awaits the most successful pre-war crew.
You can revisit both Paris-Madrid Rallies via the blogs on our website event pages and we’re pleased to tell you that you can even place a memory on your wall or desk, as all our superb rally photographs are now available to buy as prints, framed or unframed, in almost any size and format. They make the perfect gift for a driver, co-driver or indeed any vintage or classic petrolhead
– including yourself – and ordering couldn’t be easier. Simply visit the Gallery atwww.rallyround.co.uk and follow the links provided.