The 1907 Formula 1 Grand Prix – A race of extraordinary gentlemen

September 24, 2018 0 By Jagerhobby
The 1907 Formula 1 Grand Prix – A race of extraordinary gentlemen

The 1907 Formula 1 Grand Prix – A race of extraordinary gentlemen

As dawn broke over Dieppe on the 2nd of July 1907, 38 intrepid gentlemen drivers and their ride along mechanics nervously looked to the skies. Yesterday had brought rain and strong winds overnight, An estimated 200,000 spectators had traveled to the French seaside town and 8,000 Soldiers were deployed at 40 feet intervals to keep the spectators off the track. It was a chilly morning and the dirt and gravel roads of the 70km track were tricky to say the least.

The cars would be paraded from around 5am. Each countries cars had to be painted in their national racing color. The French in Blue, German in white, English in Green and of course the Italians in Rosso

The 38 entries from 15 factories. Of those cars 24 were French, five Italian, three Belgian, three German, two English, one Swiss and one American

For 1907, the race was run under a fuel consumption limit of 30 litres per 100 kilometres

Noteworthy is that the course moved to Dieppe from Le Mans the previous year. These were public roads courses. The French course was triangular with the cities of Dieppe, Eu and Londinieres serving as the angle points. The 70 course skirted the seashore at one point. Held over 10 laps. There were expectations in the press of great speed as observers predicted many competitors would exceed an Ardennes course record held by Arthur Duray.

On the 2nd July , 1907 Indianapolis Star ran with the headline, “Ready for Big Auto Race.” The sub-head notes that practice up to that point had been hindered by rain and that course conditions were still slippery – probably because these were dirt and gravel roads. One of the key areas on the course – a decent from a railroad bridge near the town of Ancourt – is cited as treacherous

These brave and inspirational men had come for the 2nd Grand Prix the forerunner of today’s Formula 1

Gathered were some of the most important historical figures in history of Aviation, The Automotive Engineering and Motorsport.

Lets take a quick look at some of them,

Ferenc Szisz

from Hungary won the first ever Grand Prix in 1906 driving for Renault in the AK 90CV the betting had been brisk with French Team 3:1 favourite to win.


Vincenzo Lancia,

yes the man behind Lancia and one of the founding creators of Pininfarina. he had finished 5th in the 1906 Grand Prix. Racing in the Fiat 130hp the Italian team was 2:1 Favorites. Lancia was perhaps one of the fastest drivers ever. Unfortunately he had a history of crashing


Felice Nazzaro

a little known name now yet perhaps one of the most important motor racing figures ever. Nazzaro had finished 2nd in the 1906 Race and was known as a tactical racer. However his true impact wouldn’t come into effect until 1908, when a 10 year old boy from Modena watched Nazzaro’s win at the 1908 Circuito di Bologna, it inspired him to become a racing driver…..

That little boy went on to found the greatest motor sport dynasty ever His name was Enzo… Enzo Ferrari..

John Walter Christie,

Christie was driving his V4 engine 19,891 cc own design front wheel drive racer. (I have to admit I double checked my facts here!!)  This front wheel drive with vertical coil spring suspension was years ahead of its time. Christie’s car went on to “Inspire” Vincenzo Lancia 1922 Lancia Lambda the first production uni-body car with coil sprung suspension. Christie went on to design the Christie suspension system used on a World War 2 tanks such as the British Cruiser tanks and ultimatley the Russian T34


Arthur Duray

An early aviator, he held Belgian license #3. He is probably best known today for breaking the land speed record on three separate occasions 1903 July 17 83.46 mph (134.32 km/h) Ostend, Belgium. 1903 November 5 84.73 mph (136.36 km/h) Dourdan, France, 1904 March 31 88.76 mph (142.85 km/h) Nice, France



René Hanriot,

a builder and racer of motor boats and a race car driver for the Darracq motor company, built his first aircraft in 1907, although it did not fly until late 1909. It was a monoplane with a wire-braced wooden fuselage resembling the Blériot XI but was almost immediately superseded by a series of similar monoplanes. His aircraft the Hanriot HD1 went on to be very successful with the Belgian and Italian Air force during World War One. Rene was driving the French Darracq

Henri Farman 

a highly successful and innovative aircraft engineer. His 1914 model was one of the most successful early aircraft and used extensively for artillery observation and reconnaissance during World War I. The Farman Aircraft company’s Goliath was the first long-distance passenger airliner, beginning regular Paris-London flights from February 1919. Hnri was Driving a Renault with Ferenc Szisz as a team mate

Louis Wagner

a French Grand Prix driver who won the first ever United States and British Grands Prix. Louis Raced along side Nazzaro in the Fiat team

As you can see the field was full of extraordinary individuals.

At some time around 5.30am the signal to start was given by six saluting cannons. Lancia in a Fiat was first away and the others in this era of elapsed time events, with drivers starting one at a time, and intervals for safety, were released at minute apart. The procession of starters was accompanied by a band playing music

While Lancia was the first driver to complete a lap, he was not in first place Lancia reached the start line around 6:30 AM, so the race began at an early hour which was customary in the day. Louis Wagner led the first lap who completed it in 40 minutes flat, a full one minute and 33 seconds faster than Lancia..

Louis Wagner Fiat proved unreliable and he retired on lap 3.

Duray took command and despite fumbling with fueling his car in the pit he maintained his lead with Lancia running second.

American George Heath, who had won the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup, retired when his Panhard failed in the early part of the race.

Christie in his namesake car did nothing to improve America’s reputation in automotive technology by trailing the field with mechanical troubles including a broken valve.

Duray led convincingly in the early going setting the fastest lap, with an average speed of 75.40 mph  until lap 8 when his Lorraine-Dietrich failed due to stripped gears . Lancia then led but was overhauled by Nazzaro,

Nazzaro took up the lead from there and finished the remaining two laps unchallenged. In the paper it reports that Nazzaro was having an outstanding year with other race wins 

Nazzaro’s average speed was 70.6 mph 5mph behind Duray

The race is described as approximately 477 miles . Nazzaro’s winning time is reported as 6:46:33.00 – some nine minutes ahead of second-place Szisz in the Renault. Only nine drivers were credited with finishing with American Shepard last among those with a time of 7:33:35.00

The spectator count was about 200,000, with an estimated 50,000 gathered at “the tribune,” which I assume was podium finish.

The sole American entry, running the Christie of J. Walter Christie, is described as “finishing in the ruck.” That means at the back. The car only endured four laps with a variety of mechanical ills.

I can honestly say I don’t belive i have ever researched something that has inspired me as much as this story.  To have the winner of the first Gran Prix, The winner of the First British and American Gran Prix’s, Enzo Ferrari as a child, T34 Tank, Modern Front wheel drive cars, The first commercial passenger fligghts between London and Paris, World War 1 Aircraft and land speed record holders. Christie’s car is spectacular! I will be writing some more articles on this.

We are very pleased to announce our fully built and ready to run Radio Controlled model of Nazzaro’s winning Fiat 130hp



F2  Felice Nazzaro #Fiat 130 HP 10 6:46:33.0


R1  Ferenc Szisz Renault AK +6:37.6


B2  Paul Baras Brasier +18:32.6


LD3  Fernand Gabriel Lorraine-Dietrich +25:06.0


D3  Victor Rigal Darracq +26:03.4


D2  Gustave Caillois Darracq +29:25.6


B1  Jules Barillier #Brasier +41:21.0


BC1  Pierre Garcet #Clément-Bayard +47:44.0


BC3  Elliott Shepard Clément-Bayard +53:23.2


M3  Victor Hémery #Mercedes +1:38:52.0


MB3 Courtade Motobloc +2:02:00.6


B3  Paul Bablot Brasier +2:26:26.6


R3  Claude Richez Renault AK +2:44:19.4


GE2  François Degrais Germain +3:04:03.4


GE3 François-Marie Roch-Brault Germain +3:24:12.0


C1  Joseph Collomb Corre +3:38:23.7


GE1  Perpère #Germain +4:07:09.0


F1  Vincenzo Lancia #Fiat 9 Clutch


M2  Otto Salzer Mercedes 9


LD1  Arthur Duray #Lorraine-Dietrich 8


PL3 Dutemple #Panhard 8


M1  Camille Jenatzy Mercedes 7


MB1 Pierron #Motobloc 7


DM1  Frederic Dufaux #Marchand 7


R2  Henry Farman #Renault AK 7


D1  René Hanriot #Darracq 6 Engine


LD2  Henri Rougier #Lorraine-Dietrich 5


GB1  Louis Rigolly #Gobron-Brillié 5


W2 Pryce Harrison Weigel 5


MB2 Page #Motobloc 5


P1  Emile Stricker #Porthos 4 Steering


BC2 Alezy #Clément-Bayard 4


WC1  Walter Christie #Christie 4


F3  Louis Wagner #Fiat 3 Valve gear


W1 Gregor Laxen #Weigel 3 Wheel


PL2  Hubert Le Blon Panhard 3 Driver injury


PL1  George Heath #Panhard 1 Engine