The Grand Prix is the pinnacle of racing competition. It's no secret that most of our bike liveries are inspired by legendary cars or racers. One of our most competitive universe yet, the Grand Prix hits the heart of motorsports enthusiasts. It takes us back to the early 20th century, the era of the emergence of racing culture in Europe.
It is noteworthy that they came to the form in which we are used to seeing modern bicycles at about the same time when modern auto racing took on its present face. Until 1900, car races mainly consisted of competitions between cities on ordinary roads. Competitions were organized by national auto clubs, which had appeared everywhere by the beginning of the last century. James Gordon Bennett, an American media mogul who lived in France, invited the Automobile Club of France (ACF) to arrange an international competition between the national auto clubs for the Prize he established. In fact, this was the first attempt to organize something like a team World Championship in auto racing.
In the competition rules, in particular, it was indicated that each subsequent annual event will be held by the country that won the previous one, and racing cars must be fully assembled from national components, up to tires. Each country was limited to three crews of a driver and a mechanic.
Visually, the cars could be easily distinguished by the color assigned in advance to each participating country. So Germany got white, Belgium yellow, the United States red, and France blue, following the colors present on the national flags (the German flag then contained three colors: white, black and red).
Some parts of the participants' cars were inherited from bicycles, for example, a chain drive. And among the racers there were real cycling stars. For example, Fernand Sharron was a multiple Champion of cycling at different distances, then held in France.
For various reasons, even before the start of the race, Eugen Benz from Germany, Anthony L. Riker from the USA and two Belgian riders refused to participate. So on June 14, 1900, at 3 hours 14 minutes in the morning, only 5 cars entered the route 568.66 km long, connecting Paris and Lyon: 3 French Panhard-Levassors with a capacity of 24 horsepower, driven by Fernand Charron, Léonce Girardot and René de Knyff, American Alexander Winton on a 16 hp single-cylinder Winton (noteworthy that Vinton's car used a tiller instead of a steering wheel), as well as the Snoeck-Bolide Camille Jenatzy, which is actually a Lefebvre-Bolide car, built entirely in Belgium under a license from the French manufacturer to comply with the competition regulations.
Three out of five riders retired for various reasons. However, the winner path, the Frenchman Sharron, cannot be called easy either. In the first half of the race at a speed of about 85 km/h, he flew into the water gutter, bending the rear axle, and 12 kilometers from the finish line in Lyon, a San Bernard dog ran right in front of a car moving at a speed of about 100 km/h, and they collided. The car miraculously stayed on the move and, having passed the trees and thickets, the crew managed to get back onto the road. The dog was less fortunate.
At 12:23 p.m., the crew of the Fournier finished in front of a small crowd in Lyon, making them the first-ever official international car race winner in the World. The winner's average speed was 62,12 km/h. After 1 hour and 37 minutes, Girardeau and his mechanic crossed the finish line. A year later, Léonce Girardot will become the winner of the Cup 2nd edition. There will be even less participation - only 3 cars and all of them are made in France.
Despite criticism from the press and outright organizational problems, the Gordon Bennett Cup continued to exist. Thus marking the beginning of international motor racing history. And blue for the next century will be associated with French racing cars.
Léon Théry, Cup Winner 1904 and 1905. Original by J. Fleury
In 1904, at the peak of the popularity of the Gordon Bennett Cup, when 18 drivers entered the start, the French racer Leon Teri finished first in a car by French manufacturer Richard-Brasier with a four-cylinder 80hp engine. The car also had a chain drive. By the way, at one time, in the pre-automotive era, this manufacturer began with the production of steel bicycles.
All winners of the Gordon Bennett Cup (1900-1905). From left to right: Fernand Sharron, Léonce Girardot, Selwyn Edge, Camille Jenatzy and two-time race winner Léon Théry
The first Grand Prix
Subsequently, the ACF Grand Prix will replace the Gordon Bennett Cup, for a while becoming the main automotive competition in France and probably in the World. A distinctive feature of the races was the absence of any restrictions on the number of participants. This fact increased the popularity of the race because there were much more manufacturers who wanted to take part than three per country (especially in France).
In addition, due to the large number of deaths of both spectators and riders on public roads, traditional city-to-city races have been replaced by a new concept of closed circuit-racing. However, British and American teams initially sabotaged the race, citing the race as propaganda for the French auto industry.
June 26, 1906, to the starting grid of the race with a lap length of 103,18 km. 32 cars left near Le Mans. The track had a combined coverage of tar, gravel and in some places wooden flooring. The race was first named Grand Prix thanks to the main prize of 45,000 French francs or about 13 kilograms of gold equivalent (about 735 thousand euros today).
The race lasted two days and consisted of 6 laps each day, with the total length of the race of 1238,16 km. Only 17 cars were able to complete the first day. And only 11 made it to the finish line.
With a fantastic average speed of 118,09 km/h for those times, Hungarian Ferenc Szisz won the race at the wheel of Renault. In the future, this Race will become the French Grand Prix. Unfortunately, the color of the winner's car can only be guessed at, but with a high probability, it was also blue.
Thus, after the race, the term Grand Prix came into use, which has become a household name. Own "Grand Prix" appeared in Germany (Kaiserpreis), Italy (Gran Premio d'Italia), and other countries.
Unique footage of motorsport development is captured in the film of the Shell Motor Company film unit.
The era of the Grand Prix
The tradition of painting French racing cars in blue took root and subsequently, thanks to this, they could be easily distinguished from the crowd. Among the legendary race cars of that time - the famous Bugatti Type 35, better known as "Pur-sang". A car that was unmatched in Grand Prix and other races for nearly a decade until 1933, with over 2,000 victories.
Meo Costantini, Bugatti driver and his Type 35 in a 1924 GP ACFIn 1969, already in the era of the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Englishman Jackie Stewart became the World Champion behind the wheel of the sky-blue Matra MS80 of the French designer Matra Sports with a Ford-Cosworth engine. Further, only 36 years later, Fernando Alonso will become the World Champion twice at the wheel of the French Renault F1 Team. Before him, Alain Prost had done this four times at the wheel of English cars, but his cars were of different colors.
Matra MS80, the first French car to become world champion in 1969
ImplementationIn mid-2021, Renault Alpine introduced the A110-50 model, a kind of tribute to the legendary Alpine A110 Berlinette rally. We took a lot of inspiration from this prototype when choosing the shade for our Grand Prix. In addition, they are used by the Alpine team for their Formula 1 cars.
The Grand Prix Livery is a tribute to the pioneers of motorsport, their fearlessness and enthusiasm. In their obsession with speed and the pursuit of excellence, we see an infectious example of how to deal with their our business.
In addition to the line of production bicycles with the Grand Prix livery, in 2021 we presented our prototype DH chassis, on which The Brigade team took part in the competition - the modern Grand Prix of cycling - the Downhill World Cup. The model also bears the name Grand Prix.
The Brigade Team at 2nd stage of Downhill World Cup. Les Gets, 2021
Like the race cars of the early 20th century, these bikes are mostly prototypes on which we will test technologies for future production models.
More than 120 years ago, the Great History of motorsport began with a race between a handful of cars. It seems insignificant, but look where it led! Only by looking at the events of the past through time, one can assess their impact on the course of history as a whole.
We at Production Privee believe that we are also creating history here and now. And even if this is just our own little story, we are proud of it and will continue to work to bring all our ideas to life.
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