Gordon Bennett Route
"Relive The Race"
Bennett Route Map

Did You Know?

The man who plotted the famous 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup route was a dashing count who never lived to see his circuit used. Tragically, Count Eliot Zborowski, an elegant aristocrat of Polish decent died behind the wheel of his racing car just weeks before the race. His cufflinks jamming the throttle of his new 60hp Mercedes while racing at the 1903 Nice Speed Week.

Having searched Ireland for a suitable course location, Zborowski chose a circuit centred on Athy and incorporating Maryborough (now Portlaoise), Kildare and Carlow. The course quickly met the approval of the Gordon Bennett Cup Committee. Its long, leafy stretches and picturesque hilly climbs through some of Ireland’s most beautiful open countryside made this a course to rival any existing on the continent.

Like all great race circuits the twists, turns and sweeping slopes of the 1903 Irish Gordon Bennett Cup course provided plenty of thrills, spills and, at one stage, the presumed death for the occupants of one of the competing cars.

Battling to keep his English team in the race Charles Jarrott literally flew off the Irish course with devastating effect. Jarrott’s spectacular exit occurred as he barreled through the picturesque landscape by the Rock of Dunamaise two miles outside Stradbally. The steering of Jarrott’s thundering Napier failed suddenly as he descended a slope. The car hit a bank and somersaulted off the course. Jarrott was thrown out of the vehicle while his 17-year old mechanic, Bianchi, was trapped underneath.The English men were presumed dead as spectators arrived to the scene. White sheets were thrown over them and their bodies were taken to a nearby shed. But the pair were far from dead as Jarrott later recalled: “When I came to, I wondered if I was dead. I tried to scratch away the blur before my eyes and found it was a sheet”. Jarrott’s traveling companion Bianchi also came around shortly after and both were further restored to good health when a local priest prescribed a dose of strong Irish whiskey in large measure.













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Ballyshannon To Carlow
Carlow To Athy
Athy To Kildare
Kildare To The Heath
The Heath To Athy

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