The 1903 German Team
RACE FACTS: THE TEAMS
THE 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup race brought to Ireland the world’s fastest road vehicles and 12 of the greatest daredevil drivers of their day.
THE GERMANS, all driving 9.2 litre engine Mercedes cars, took top honours in the 1903 race with the Red Devil, Camille Jenatzy, roaring to victory after a blistering 6hr39mins behind the wheel. Team mates Baron Pierre de Caters and James Foxhall Keene failed to complete the full course.
Camille Jenatzy, winner of the Irish 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup Race, was
feared and revered in motor racing circles under the formidable title “The
Red Devil”. A member of the German Mercedes team, Jenatzy was in fact a
Belgian gentleman whose fiery nature, spectacular and often reckless driving
style made him a motoring legend long before he had reached Ireland.
Dubbed the Red Devil by race fans and the motoring press of the time
because of his great, pointed ginger beard, Jenatzy once likened motor
racing to being at the centre of a hurricane. “The car in which you travel
seems to leave the ground and hurl itself forward like a projectile ricocheting
along the ground,” he said.The great man who ripped home to win the Irish Gordon Bennett Cup Race in 6hr39min predicted
that one day he would die in a Mercedes.
But it was not a car accident that took the life of this motorsport pioneer. Camille Jenatzy died while playing a prank on friends out hunting wild boar. The
motoring legend ducked into the brush pretending to be a charging animal, a shot was fired and the
Red Devil was unwittingly slain.