The Gordon Bennett Race 1903

For one day in 1903, a sporting event took place in Ireland which not only profoundly altered the future of that sport worldwide, but also had a lasting impact on both Irish sport and society. The race was the International Gordon Bennett Cup race, carried out on newly repaired, and sometimes rolled, roads of Carlow, Laois and Kildare.

In a country still discovering the motorcar, people remembered how noisy they were, how exciting they were, and how it would change so many people’s lives. It certainly changed the perception of how racing should be run, at a time when all of Europe was about to ban it altogether as being too dangerous, not just to the drivers, but to the spectators as well. The Irish Gordon Bennett Cup Race changed all that.


Made with the support from the the Heritage Council and the Heritage offices of Laois, Carlow and Kildare County Councils, this is the story, in two parts, of how the race came to be in Ireland, and why the eyes of the racing world were turned to Ireland for this one event, this momentous but largely forgotten race that, still today, is thought to be the largest outdoor sporting event in Irish history

How Ireland saved Motorsport Part One




1903 Gordon Bennett Trophy. René de Knyff, driving his Panhard to second place, passes Alexander Winton repairing the Winton Bullet 2 on the first lap. Printed and published in 1903 by Hely’s Ltd, Dame Street, Dublin. Photographer and current owner of copyright are lost to history. Image is currently displayed at Ask About Ireland


How Ireland Saved Motorsport Part 2 – the Race


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