1 9 0 6

Szisz (Renault)
3A Francois Szisz
Renault Frères
Nazzaro (F.I.A.T.)
2B Felice Nazzaro
Fabbrica Italiana Automobli Torino
Clément (Bayard-Clément)
13A Albert Clément
SA de Ets Clément-Bayard


Le Mans (F), 26-27 June, 1906 (Tuesday / Wednesday).
12 laps x 103.180 km (64.116 mi) = 1238.16 km (769.39 mi)


1AFernand GabrielDe Dietrich et CieLorraine-Dietrich18.1S-4
1BHenri RougierDe Dietrich et CieLorraine-Dietrich18.1S-4
1CArthur DurayDe Dietrich et CieLorraine-Dietrich18.1S-4
2AVincenzo LanciaFabbrica Italiana Automobli TorinoF.I.A.T.16.3S-4
2BFelice NazzaroFabbrica Italiana Automobli TorinoF.I.A.T.16.3S-4
2CAldo Weill-Schott Fabbrica Italiana Automobli TorinoF.I.A.T.16.3S-4
3AFerenc SziszRenault FrèresRenault13.0S-4
3BEdmond MorelleRenault FrèresRenault13.0S-4
3CClaude RichezRenault FrèresRenault13.0S-4
4AVictor HémeryA. Darracq & CoDarracq12.7S-4
4BLouis WagnerA. Darracq & CoDarracq12.7S-4
4CRené HanriotA. Darracq & CoDarracq12.7S-4
5APaul BarasSociété des Automobiles BrasierBrasier12.0S-4
5BJules BarillierSociété des Automobiles BrasierBrasier12.0S-4
5C"Pierry"Société des Automobiles BrasierBrasier12.0S-4
6ACamille JenatzyDaimler Motoren GesellschaftMercedes14.4S-4A. Burton drove on day 2.
6BGabriel MarieauxDaimler Motoren GesellschaftMercedes14.4S-4
6CVincenzo FlorioDaimler Motoren GesellschaftMercedes14.4S-4
7ALouis RigollySté Gobron-BrilléGobron-Brillé13.5S-4
8AAlessandro CagnoFabbrica Automobli ItalaItala16.7S-4
8BMaurice FabryFabbrica Automobli ItalaItala16.7S-4
8CPierre de CatersFabbrica Automobli ItalaItala16.7S-4
9APaul TaveneauxGrégoire et CieGrégoire7.4S-4DNS - practice crash
9BXavier Civelli de BoschGrégoire et CieGrégoire7.4S-4
10AGeorge HeathSociété des Anciens EstablissementsPanhard-Levassor18.3S-4
10BHenri TartSociété des Anciens EstablissementsPanhard-Levassor18.3S-4
10CGeorges TesteSociété des Anciens EstablissementsPanhard-Levassor18.3S-4
11AGaston Charles BarriauxAutomobiles VulpèsVulpèsDNS - car overweight
12AHubert le BlonHotchkiss et CieHotchkiss16.3S-4
12BJean SalleronHotchkiss et CieHotchkiss16.3S-4
12CElliott Fitch ShepardHotchkiss et CieHotchkiss16.3S-4
13AAlbert ClémentSA de Ets Clément-BayardBayard-Clément12.9S-4
13BAlfred VillemainSA de Ets Clément-BayardBayard-Clément12.9S-4
13C"de la Touloubre"SA de Ets Clément-BayardBayard-Clément12.9S-4

Szisz wins the first Grand Prix with help of detachable wheel rims

by Hans Etzrodt
The Automobile Club de France sabotaged the Gordon-Bennett race to stage their own Grand Prix. Their first race with that title was in 1906 on the Circuit de la Sarthe. Of the 32 starters, Baras (5A Brasier) led the first two laps ahead of Duray (1C Lorraine-Dietrich) and Szisz (3A Renault). The latter took the lead on the 3rd lap and held it till lap six, the end on the first day. Clément (13A Bayard-Clément) came 2nd and Nazzaro (2B F.I.A.T.) was 3rd. As wheels were not allowed to be changed, multiple tires were torn up by rough road sections and had to be replaced by the driver and mechanic alone, taking 10 to 15 minutes per wheel. Michelin introduced detachable wheel rims that saved much time. Due to their weight of 9 kg merely Renault, Fiat and Bayard-Clément were able to use them to their advantage. Only 17 contenders were able to complete the six laps on the first day during tropical heat. The cars were locked up and guarded in a parc fermé where nobody could enter.
      On the morning of the 2nd day, the cars started in the order they had finished on the first day. Szisz had a 26-minute advantage to Clément with Nazzaro third. The order of the three leading cars remained the same until the 10th lap when Nazzaro advanced to 2nd place with Clément 3rd. That is how they completed the 12th lap, Szisz after 12h14m07.0s with the F.I.A.T. of Nazzaro 32 minutes behind ahead of Clément in 3rd place. There were just 11 finishers. Bemusing is the meaning of the title 'Grand Prix' which was hollow and deceiving since no prize money was announced.
The Grand Prix in 1906 was the first recognized grand prix race. But preceding it, the annual Gordon Bennett Cup took place for six years. This truly international event had been the pinnacle in racing, but the rules limited each country to be represented by only three cars. France alone had seven manufacturers of whom any could have been a winner and wanted a race where each factory could enter three cars. Because the French auto industry became frustrated with these car-restricting Gordon Bennett Cup regulations, they voiced their concern during the 1904 Salon at Paris. They asked the Automobile Club de France if they could organize a race of their own, called the Grand Prix de l'Automobile Club de France, unless the rules were changed. This event should be run simultaneously with the 1905 Gordon Bennett Cup where all competing firms would have an equal chance. The proposal triggered outrage, criticism, and protests from all competing Nations. Nothing else happened and the French postponed the Grand Prix until 1906.
      The French, British and Italian clubs did not challenge for the 1906 Gordon Bennett Cup race and this opened the way for the Grand Prix de l'Automobile Club de France. To ensure that the Grand Prix would be the most important event in Europe, the ACF decided on a much longer race than the Gordon Bennett cup, the Circuit des Ardennes, the Vanderbilt Cup race, or the Brescia race. Also, the race would be spread over two days. Life was so easy going in 1906 that the organizers, L'Automobile-Club de l'Ouest, could choose Tuesday, 26 and Wednesday, 27 June for their great event. Gerald Rose p 248 > Forty miles of palisading had been put up in various places on the course, across side-turnings and in towns and villages. Almost the entire circuit was tarred to keep the dust down. The ACF spent around £14,000 for circuit improvements but only £2,300 on the road surface, which had become worse by 26 June because of the high amount of traffic just before the race. Troops were everywhere. The entire circuit was guarded by several thousand soldiers.
      The regulations were very much the same as in the prior years. Every factory had the right to enter three cars with an entrance fee of 5,000 Francs per car up to 30. April, thereafter a double payment was required up to 15. May. Maximum weight limitation of 1000 kg - 2204 lb. was retained plus 7 kg - 15.43 lb. allowance for any car fitted with a magneto. Horn, fenders, lanterns, lantern holders, upholstery, and repair box (if this did not serve as seat) were not included in the weight. The weight of the driver and his mechanic had to be at least 120 kg - 264 lb. The mechanic was allowed to be changed during the race and the driver could be changed only after the first day. The exhaust pipes had to run horizontally backwards and at its end had to be bent upward to prevent dust whirling up. Engine size was free. While the Gordon Bennett regulations had not restricted the number of mechanics working on the cars during the race, the Grand Prix rules required for the first time that the driver and riding mechanic do all work alone including the time-consuming tire changes. This was a harsh rule since tire failures were occurring often. Long before the event, the experts had agreed that the Grand Prix would be a tire race and that the winner would come from such car and driver, who would spend the least time with fitting new tires. The battle would be between Michelin, Dunlop, and Continental.
The Circuit de la Sarthe was so known because of its situation in the French region's department de la Sarthe and the Sarthe River but was also called simply the Le Mans circuit. The ACF chose an enormously long circuit for their first Grand Prix, just to establish a status, as the course on public roads had to be larger than the Gordon Bennett race circuit the year before. It was of triangular shape to the east of Le Mans, 103.18 km long and had to be covered 6 times, on two consecutive days, making a total distance of 1238.16 km. The route went anti-clockwise, starting at the large grandstand and pits, then heading a few kilometers west near Champagne town at La Fourche hairpin it turned east, passing through the towns of Ardenay and Bouloire to reach after around 35 km St. Calais where it turned north. That town was detoured by a wooden plank bypass-road. The next town north was Berfay, thereafter Vibraye to be reached via a narrow bypass side road and included a wooden plank section. Both plank roads were rough, narrow, and dangerous. The further north-bound road was narrow through Lamnay town leading to La Ferté Bernard after about 32.5 km distance. From here a sharp left-hand turn led in south-west direction on a sufficiently wide road, passing the towns of Sceaux and Connerré along an undulating straight back to the grandstand at St. Mars la Brière, a stretch of about 35.5 km up to the La Fourche hairpin.
The entries consisted of ten teams with 23 cars from France, two teams with six starters from Italy and one team with three bolides from Germany. A complete list is at the beginning of this report. Napier, Wolseley and Locomobile did not enter, an open sign of hostility towards the French event by the British and the Americans. The new regulations did not require that cars were painted in their national colors. But the Renaults appeared painted in flame-red, the Lorraine-Dietrich were blue. The ACF had also altered the numbering system for the cars to sever another link with the Gordon Bennett Cup races. Instead of the conventional consecutive numbering, each participating team received a number for their cars by drawing lots and a letter specified the individual cars of each team. Two cars did not clear the scales since the teams were unable to bring them down to the 1007 kg maximum weight limit. Technically the cars were modified versions of the bolides that ran the year before at the Gordon-Bennett event. All cars had 4-cylinder engines of 12-liter or more, the smaller Grégoire was an exception.
      To clarify some drivers' names like "Pierry" which was the pseudonym for Pierre Huguet who drove Panhard and Renault in 1899 but had not raced since. Another was "de la Touloubre" a nom-de-course for Henri-François Genty while the Renault driver Edmond Morelle used Edmond as pseudonym.
There were no specific practice times. Weeks before anybody could test their car around the circuit. While the Renaults were still practicing with the unproven new all-metal wire spoke wheels, they reverted to wooden artillery wheels for the race, a safety precaution, since it was not expected that the new wire wheels were to stand up to fast cornering. Then very shortly before the race Renault changed the highly stressed rear wheels with detachable wheel rims developed by Michelin who had made them available just before the race. The detachable wheel rim was to be the decisive factor in the outcome of the race and was therefore the most significant change on the car. Replacing a wheel was not allowed by the regulations. Because of the new detachable wheel rim's greater weight of 9kg, only three manufacturers were able to use them. Fiat installed the new type on all four wheels, Renault, and Clément-Bayard only on the rear wheels, but strangely the new rim was not used by Albert Clément. Most cars had been completed for the race and were already close to the maximum weight of 1007 kg. Therefore, it was impossible for them to remove weight and make use of the new rims.
      The tire situation until 1906 had been such that when a car came into the pits for a tire change, it was jacked up front and rear, a horde of mechanics equipped with knives would pounce over the worn tires to pull them down, tear away melted rubber from the rims, lever on new tires and tubes, pump them up and restart by hand cranking. With the new rules for 1906, the driver and riding mechanic were the only ones allowed to do all repairs and carry out the burdensome tire changes, which would take about 15 minutes per wheel. In comparison, the new Michelin spare rims came already fitted with fully inflated tires and were simply placed on the wheels. After putting the car on jacks, the driver and mechanic had to remove only the 8 retaining nuts holding wedges, pulling the rim with bad tire off the wooden-spoked artillery wheel. A new rim with inflated tire already attached was then slid onto the wheel and the eight-wheel nuts fastened. It took about four minutes for mechanic, and driver working to change two rear wheels. The use of the detachable wheel rims not only saved great amounts of time but also eased the amount of strenuous work for the crews. This was an enormous advantage during the tropical heat, which was to plague the first Grand Prix.
Scrutineering and weighing took place on Sunday the 24. June and Monday 25. June.

CarDriver     Weight
1ALorraine-DietrichGabriel995 kg
1BLorraine-DietrichRougier999 kg
1CLorraine-DietrichDuray1007 kg
2AF.I.A.T.Lancia1006 kg
2BF.I.A.T.Nazzaro 1006 kg
2CF.I.A.T.Weill-Schott1007 kg
3ARenaultSzisz990 kg
3BRenaultEdmond989 kg
4ADaracqHémery994 kg
4BDaracqWagner1004 kg
4CDaracqHanriot1007 kg
5ABrasierBaras1007 kg
5BBrasierBarillier1007 kg
5CBrasier"Pierry"1007 kg
6AMercedesJenatzy1007 kg
6BMercedesMarieaux1007 kg
6CMercedesFlorio1004 kg
7AGobron-BrilliéRigolly1003 kg
8AItalaCagno1006 kg
8AItalaFabry1007 kg
8AItalade Caters1007 kg
9AGrégoireTaveneaux-----practice crash
9BGrégoireCivelli de Bosch886 kg
10A Panhard-LevassorHeath1004 kg
10BPanhard-LevassorTart1007 kg
10CPanhard-LevassorTeste1004 kg
12AHotchkisssle Blon1007 kg
12BHotchkisssSalleron1007 kg
12CHotchkisssShepard1003 kg
13ABayard-ClémentClément1004 kg
13BBayard-ClémentVillemain1005 kg
13CBayard-Clément"de la Touloubre"1001 kg
The starting order had been decided by ballot. The cars were sent away at 1½-minute intervals. Two starters of the original entries did not make the start, Taveneaux (9A Grégoire) crashed during practice and Barriaux (11A Vulpès) was overweight. The start began at 6:00 a. m. and the last driver left at 6h49m30s.

9ATaveneauxGrégoireDNS - practice crash    
11ABarriauxVulpèsDNS - overweight
6:16m30s12Ale BlonHotchkiss
6:22m30s3BEdmond MorelleRenault
6:30m00s9BCivelli de BoschGrégoire
6:45m00s8Cde CatersItala
6:49m30s13C"de la Touloubre"Bayard-Clément
Lap 1 - The retired driver, Chevalier René de Knyff now with the ACF, started the Grand Prix at 6:00 a.m. when he sent away Gabriel (1A Lorraine-Dietrich) followed at 90 second intervals by Lancia on (2A Fiat), then Szisz (3A Renault). At 6:49:30 a.m. the last of the 32 cars, "de la Touloubre" (13C Bayard-Clément) left the start.
      The first to reach the grandstand was Lancia (2A F.I.A.T.) who hurtled through five minutes after Touloubre had left. Baras (5A Brasier) followed closely in second place. But by time the leader was Baras who had passed Hémery and Szisz and led with a lap in 52m25.4s. Duray was second after 52m32.2s, Szisz came third after 53m03.0s, Weill-Schott in 53m40.0s was fourth and Lancia who had passed first was fifth.
      During the first lap Gabriel (1A Lorraine-Dietrich) broke a radius-rod and ran over it near St. Calais. He only escaped disaster by skillfully correcting the swerves of the damaged car. Fabry (8B Itala) took a corner too fast at Vibraye and his wheels collapsed causing him to topple over. Fabry was buried under his Itala until spectators had put the car right side up again. He and his mechanic escaped uninjured. Le Blon (12A Hotchkiss) ran off the wooden road at St. Calais and crashed. Both he and his mechanic were not injured but started to repair the buckled right rear wire wheel. They rebuilt it, using spokes taken from his teammates' cars and his own wheels, the job being done by the roadside and taking three hours to complete. Civelli de Bosch (9B Grégoire) could not drive faster than 30 km/h with his unfinished car and retired. Hanriot (4C Darracq) also dropped out with engine trouble. Salleron (12B Hotchkiss) dropped behind, his car which went over sideways in a corner, when one of his wire wheels collapsed.
      After 103.18 km, Baras (5A Brasier) was leading in 52m25.4s at 118.092 km/h average speed which proved to be the fastest lap of the race. The leaders were in the following order after the first lap:
1.5A  Baras (Brasier)52m25.4s
2.1C Duray (Lorraine-Dietrich)52m32.2s
3.3A Szisz (Renault)53m03.0s
4.2C Weill-Schott (F.I.A.T.)53m40.0s
5.2A Lancia (F.I.A.T.)53m42.4s
6.5C Pierry (Brasier)53m58.4s
7.10A Heath (Panhard-Levassor)55m39.6s
8.4A Hémery (Darracq)55m55.6s
9.4B Wagner (Darracq)56m13.0s
10.10C Teste (Panhard-Levassor)56m15.4s

Lap 2 - The Autocar p 847 > Soon the sun dispelled the mists and began to blaze out of a cloudless sky. The race was run off upon one of the hottest days we can remember. The crowd melted away from the barriers and sought refuge in what shade could be found.
      Gerald Rose p 252 > It was a tropically hot day and the great heat combined with the tremendous speeds attained over the long straight stretches of the circuit destroyed the tires in one or two laps, and the drivers became exhausted by the incessant labor of replacing them.
      During the 2nd lap Baron de Caters (8C Itala) landed with his Itala in a ditch at St. Calais and injured his arm. After using up all his spare tires he tried to reach the pits on the rim with the result that he had damaged the wheel rim to such an extent that replacement tires could not be fitted. As it was not allowed to change the whole wheel, he retired. Some drivers were supposedly forced to retire because they had been racing on after tire failures, which could happen at high-speed tire blowouts.
      After 206.36 km, Baras (5A Brasier) who was still leading on the second lap at 117.920 km/h average speed made another fast lap in 52m34.6s, with leaders in the following order after the 2nd lap:
1.5A Baras (Brasier)1h45m00.0s
2.5C Pierry (Brasier)1h46m29.4s
3.2C Weill-Schott (F.I.A.T.)1h46m48.4s
4.3A Szisz (Renault)1h50m17.0s
5.4A Hémery (Darracq)1h51m34.0s
6.10C Teste (Panhard-Levassor)1h52m04.0s
7.5B Barillier (Brasier)1h52m59.0s
8.4B Wagner (Darracq)1h53m22.4s
9.13A Clément (Bayard-Clément)1h53m31.2s
10.12C Shepard (Hotchkiss)1h58m45.0s

Lap 3 - The significance of the new detachable wheels became apparent when the Renault of Szisz took the lead on the 3rd lap. The two fast Brassiers of Barillier and Baras followed him, while Weill-Schott, Lancia and "Pierry" had fallen already back with tire trouble, completing time-consuming, conventional tire changes. When Cagno (8A Itala) stopped with a stone-damaged radiator, all Italas were out after only two laps racing. Wagner (4B Darracq) retired since he had broken valves. Salleron (12B Hotchkiss) went over sideways in a corner on the first lap, when a wire wheel collapsed but he completed two laps. After 309.54 km, Szisz (3A Renault) was leading at 110.648 km/h average speed with the times of the 24-car field after the 3rd lap:
1.3A Szisz (Renault)2h47m51.0s
2.5B Barillier (Brasier)2h48m22.4s
3.5A Baras (Brasier)2h54m56.6s
4.10C Teste (Panhard-Levassor)2h57m35.0s
5.12C Shepard (Hotchkiss)2h59m47.6s
6.13A Clément (Bayard-Clément)3h01m40.4s
7.2B Nazzaro (F.I.A.T.)3h03m00.0s
8.10B Tart (Panhard-Levassor)3h06m10.4s
9.6A Jenatzy (Mercedes)3h08m45.8s
10.10A Heath (Panhard-Levassor)3h11m16.4s
11.7A Rigolly (Gobron-Brillié)3h11m29.6s
12.6C Florio (Mercedes)3h12m34.0s
13.3B Edmond Morelle (Renault)3h16m43.0s
14.2C Weill-Schott (F.I.A.T.)3h18m44.0s
15.3C Richez (Renault)3h19m32.4s
16.1C Duray (Lorraine-Dietrich)3h22m14.0s
17.2A Lancia (F.I.A.T.)3h24m00.0s
18.4A Hémery (Darracq)3h38m09.0s
19.5C "Pierry" (Brasier)4h01m04.6s  1 lap behind
20.1B Rougier (Lorraine-Dietrich)4h01m47.0s        ---"---
21.6B Marieaux (Mercedes)4h08m34.8s        ---"---
22.13C "de la Touloubre" (Bayard-C.)4h36m05.0s        ---"---
23.13B Villemain (Bayard-Clément)5h05m20.0s  2 laps behind
24.12A le Blon (Hotchkiss)6h35m28.4s  3 laps behind

Lap 4 - After three laps, the hot sun was beating down from a cloudless sky and the thin asphalt layer had now softened and started to fall apart. The temperature eventually climbed to 50 degrees Celsius in the sun. Whole sections were ripped off the road on acceleration and braking. With the continuous decay of the roads, flying sharp stones and lumps of asphalt, smashed goggles and tires now needed non-stop changes. The drivers had a hard time keeping the cars on the pebble-strewn road and passing maneuvers were a tough act. The stop at the depot was not only to change tires but also to replace tar crusted goggles of mechanics and drivers and to have their bloodshot eyes treated. Clément (13A Bayard-Clément) stopped at the depot after the third lap. The Autocar p 849 > Edmond (3B Renault) also stopped at the depot on completion of his third circuit, grit having found its way into the water circulation. He seemed in a great state of nervous tension. A change of drivers was made, and the new driver promptly stopped the engine. Edmond's goggles had broken, and he was nearly blinded by the tar thrown up from the road; he was attended to by the ambulance, and the second driver was recalled by officials. He resumed the race amidst cheers. During the 4th lap de la Touloubre (13C Bayard-Clément) went out with a broken gearbox.
      After 412.72 km, Szisz was leading at 110.516 km/h average speed, with an 1h10m40s advantage over Teste (10C Panhard-Levassor) in second place, followed by Shepard (12C Hotchkiss), Baras (5A Brasier) and Nazzaro (2B F.I.A.T.) who was now fifth. Positions changed often due to tire repairs and Szisz now looked like the serious winner with the field in the following times after the 4th lap:
1.3A Szisz (Renault)3h44m04.0s
2.10C Teste (Panhard-Levassor)3h54m44.0s
3.12C Shepard (Hotchkiss)3h56m48.4s
4.5A Baras (Brasier)3h58m53.4s
5.2B Nazzaro (F.I.A.T.)3h58m58.8s
6.13A Clément (Bayard-Clément)4h02m01.0s
7.10B Tart (Panhard-Levassor)4h02m38.0s
8.10A Heath (Panhard-Levassor)4h08m39.2s
9.2C Weill-Schott (F.I.A.T.)4h15m36.0s
10.3C Richez (Renault)4h21m21.0s

Lap 5 - le Blon (12A Hotchkiss) went off the wooden plank bypass-road at St. Calais on the first lap and seriously bent a rear wheel, which he rebuilt again but this took over three hours, using spokes borrowed from his teammate Salleron who had crashed nearby. Le Blon eventually retired when the leaders were on their 7th lap. Tart (10B Panhard-Levassor) broke a dumb iron and had to give up with a broken frame on his Panhard. Edmond (3B Renault) could hardly see after flying stones had smashed his goggles and a glass splinter entered his eye. At the end of three laps, he pulled into the pits with inflamed eyes and unbearable pain from flying tar and received medical treatment at the first aid post. Since a relief driver was not allowed to take over until the 2nd day, the half blind man had Vaseline put on his face, which melted in the heat and ran down in his almost blinded eye. As Edmond was unable to see the road and when he could no longer bear the pain in his eyes, he withdrew a few miles short of the finish on lap five when he had to be lifted out of his seat. Szisz and Richez in the other Peugeots suffered very much on their eyes for the same reason. The reason was that the Renaults had a large flywheel at the engine, which due to the lowness of the car, turned quite close to the ground and sucked up the dust with the tar particles and then threw this into the face of the driver, who sat very low behind the open engine. Lancia and Jenatzy likewise suffered at the eyes. When Hémery (4A Darracq) in 15th place and already one lap behind, completed his fifth lap, the commissioners stopped him as they believed he had completed his first day tour. But Hémery, who had counted his own laps, carried on, and the error was noticed, a nice example by the superiority of the organization. After 515.90 km, Szisz (3A Renault) was leading at 109.993 km/h average speed with the following times after the 5th lap:
1.3A Szisz (Renault)4h41m25.0s
2.13A Clément (Bayard-Clément)5h08m02.0s
3.2C Weill-Schott (F.I.A.T.)5h10m26.6s
4.12C Shepard (Hotchkiss)5h16m43.4s
5.2B Nazzaro (F.I.A.T.)5h17m20.0s
6.10A Heath (Panhard-Levassor)5h22m37.2s
7.3C Richez (Renault)5h27m56.4s
8.5B Barillier (Brasier)5h33m09.4s
9.10C Teste (Panhard-Levassor)5h47m07.0s  1 lap behind
10.2A Lancia (F.I.A.T.)5h50m48.2s        ---"---

Lap 6 - From the 32 cars at the start, only 17 finished the race in scorching summer heat on the first day. At the end of lap six, just before noon, Szisz in first place acknowledged the yellow flag after 5h45m30.4s. He was over 26 minutes ahead of Albert Clément in 6h11m40.6s with Nazzaro on the Fiat another 15 minutes behind. Immediately after passing the finish, the 17 cars were pushed into a parc fermé, an area fenced and pad-locked to prevent any unauthorized work or sabotage. At night the place was guarded by three Commission Sportive officials with support of a rotating search light.
      The leader Szisz suffered badly from tar-spangled dust. He received medical care and was determined to stay ahead on the second day. The road surface had become appalling, full of loose stones, rubble, and potholes, torn up by the heavy cars. The corners had changed to groves of loose pebbles through which the cars had to snake their way. This was made worse by some drivers' cornering technique with only the rear-wheel brakes they skidded the backs of these heavy cars through the corners. The intense heat and sharp stones played havoc with the rubber tires. It was observed that almost all race cars overheated. Nearly all took fresh water every lap. The overheated ground acted murderously on the tires. Villemain (13B Bayard-Clément) retired with a wheel dented so badly that he could not continue. Florio (6C Mercedes) while driving at high speed one of his tires burst and came off the rim. By the time the car came to a stop, the rim was damaged to such an extent that a replacement tire could not be mounted, and he retired after five laps. Weill-Schott (2C (F.I.A.T.) lost his third place when his car spun and rolled on a wooden board section around Vibraye which ended his battle. After the first half of the race, 619.08 km, Szisz led at 107.508 km/h average speed with the resulting 17-car field order after six laps:
1.3A Szisz (Renault)5h45m30.4s
2.13A Clément (Bayard-Clément)6h11m40.6s
3.2B Nazzaro (F.I.A.T.)6h26m53.0s
4.12C Shepard (Hotchkiss)6h30m45.0s
5.5B Barillier (Brasier)6h31m48.2s
6.3C Richez (Renault)6h35m47.0s
7.10A Heath (Panhard-Levassor)6h48m12.0s
8.10C Teste (Panhard-Levassor)7h01m52.4s  1 lap behind
9.2A Lancia (F.I.A.T.)7h12m09.2s        ---"---
10.4A Hémery (Darracq)7h26m18.4s        ---"---
11.7A Rigolly (Gobron-Brillé)7h36m08.2s        ---"---
12.6B Marieaux (Mercedes)7h39m31.4s        ---"---
13.12A Le Blon (Hotchkiss)7h40m14.4s  no longer listed
13.5A Baras (Brasier)7h41m43.0s        ---"---
14.1C Duray (Lorraine-Dietrich)7h58m46.0s  2 laps behind
15.5C "Pierry" (Brasier)7h59m05.0s        ---"---
16.6A Jenatzy (Mercedes)8h07m20.0s        ---"---
17.1B Rougier (Lorraine-Dietrich)8h15m55.0s        ---"---

Lap 7 - On the morning of the second day, well-trained carthorses dragged the racing cars from the parc fermé to the starting line. The grandstand had visibly emptied, and a great part of the spectators had left for good the evening before because the outcome of the race seemed to be predictable. Most of the personnel of the already retired cars also stayed away. The cars were started in their finishing order of the previous day and at the time intervals, they had finished. The count had started at midnight, so as Szisz had taken 5h45m30.4s on the first day, he was to start at that precise time in the morning. He was followed by Clément, who had taken 6h11m40.6s the previous day and started at that exact time 6:11:40.6 a.m. Therefore, the exact total running time of any competitor could be told by looking at the watches. Two additional mechanics had permission to restart the engine of each car and Szisz headed straight to his pits where he spent the next 12 minutes to fit new tires and top up the essential fluids. It was clear that Szisz, who had run like clockwork the first day, had to finish first unless something unforeseen would happen. The battle for second place lay between Clément, Nazzaro and Shepard. After Szisz, only Clément, Nazzaro, Shephard, Barillier and Richez started on the 7th lap, while Heath, Teste, Lancia, and Marieaux departed on the 8th lap, also those after him, "Pierry" (5C Brasier) even started on the 9th lap. Nearly all drivers spent some time refueling and changing tires except Marieaux (6B Mercedes) and Nazzaro (2B Fiat).
      The rules allowed driver changes on the second day. Jenatzy (6A Mercedes) who had finished the first day with inflamed eyes injured by tar was replaced by American Joseph Alexander Burton. 25-year-old Lancia, favorite before the race, who had fallen back the first day with repeated repairs to his Fiat's cooling system, wanted to change with his reserve driver but when he arrived at the pits the reserve could not be found. Lancia was not prepared for that and now had to drive the race in his ordinary suit, as he had no time to change. Teste (10 C Panhard) crashed spectacularly at La Fourche hairpin caused by a broken spring hanger. After hitting a bump, he lost control and hit a tree. L'Ouest-Éclair > due to the impact, the front axle was found 25 meters away. Teste was lying on the ground with a broken leg and an injured hand, his mechanic was simply stunned. Soldiers comforted Teste and transported him to the Pont de Gennes ambulance, where Doctor Poirier took care of the fracture. Of all accidents, this was the only serious one. Teste's starting time was on the 8th lap when he retired but is listed as retirement on the 7th lap, as he was one lap behind.
      After seven laps, 722.26 km, Szisz led at 106.279 km/h average speed with the following order of 16-car field after the 7th lap:
1.3A Szisz (Renault)6h47m45.0s
2.13A Clément (Bayard-Clément)7h14m45.0s
3.2B Nazzaro (F.I.A.T.)7h29m11.4s
4.5B Barillier (Brasier)7h55m36.4s  1 lap behind
5.10A Heath (Panhard-Levassor)8h00m17.0s        ---"---
6.3C Richez (Renault)8h04m38.8s        ---"---
7.12C Shepard (Hotchkiss)8h12m22.4s        ---"---
8.2A Lancia (F.I.A.T.)8h24m29.2s        ---"---
9.6B Marieaux (Mercedes)8h39m10.6s        ---"---
10.5C "Pierry" (Brasier)9h20m31.0  2 laps behind

Lap 8 - When Szisz completed his 7th lap, eleven cars were still waiting at the start to be sent off. As Szisz had a large advantage, he could take the race easy and remain in the lead for the rest of the race. Six cars started on the 8th lap, Heath (10A Panhard-Levassor) at 6h48m12.0s, Lancia (2A F.I.A.T.) at 7h12m09.2s, followed by Hémery (4A Darracq) at 7h26m18.4s, then Rigolly (7A Gobron-Brillé) at 7h36m08.2s, Marieaux (6B Mercedes) at 7h39m31.4s and Baras (5A Brasier) at 7h41m43.0s. When Hémery started, he headed straight for his pits to change the eight valves of his engine. As he had lost every chance, he completed seven laps and retired after 13h20m50.0s. Duray (1C Lorraine-Dietrich) started on lap nine.

Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin, 1906 No.27, p34 > we can talk here a few words about the organization, which was very bad in regards of registering and the annoucement of results to the public. There was a large display board on which there was no progress and on a small board which it was impossible to understand. The journalists could not receive information. The photographers were chased away. Additionally, from the grandstands you could not see anything, just in front of you.

Shepard (12C Hotchkiss) ran over the banking at La Fourche, broke a wheel and overturned without getting injured. Rigolly (7A Gobron-Brillé) retired on the 8th lap with a burst radiator. After eight laps, 825.44 km, Szisz led at 105.269 km/h average speed with the following order of 13-car field after the 8th lap:
1.3A Szisz (Renault)7h50m28.2s
2.13A Clément (Bayard-Clément)8h12m12.0s
3.2B Nazzaro (F.I.A.T.)8h35m14.0s
4.3C Richez (Renault)9h02m36.4s  1 lap behind
5.10A Heath (Panhard-Levassor)9h10m12.6s        ---"---
6.5B Barillier (Brasier)9h18m23.0s        ---"---
7.2A Lancia (F.I.A.T.)9h33m08.0s        ---"---
8.6B Marieaux (Mercedes)9h46m53.2s        ---"---
9.5C "Pierry" (Brasier)10h17m52.4s  2 laps behind
10.1C Duray (Lorraine-Dietrich)10h28m45.6s        ---"---

Lap 9 - The order of the first eight drivers changed only slightly due to the ongoing tire repairs. Richez (3C Renault) crashed at La Fourche hairpin and retired. After nine laps, 928.62 km, Szisz led at 105.483 km/h average speed with the following order of the 12-car field after the 9th lap:
1.3A Szisz (Renault)8h48m12.4s
2.13A Clément (Bayard-Clément)9h30m47.6s
3.2B Nazzaro (F.I.A.T.)9h33m53.4s
4.5B Barillier (Brasier)10h24m52.4s  1 lap behind
5.10A Heath (Panhard-Levassor)10h33m55.0s        ---"---
6.2A Lancia (F.I.A.T.)11h02m08.0s  2 laps behind
7.6B Marieaux (Mercedes)11h07m17.4s        ---"---
8.5C "Pierry" (Brasier)11h27m39.0s        ---"---
9.1C Duray (Lorraine-Dietrich)11h46m13.4s  3 laps behind
10.5A Baras (Brasier)11h48m07.2s        ---"---
11.1B Rougier (Lorraine-Dietrich)11h55m19.0s        ---"---
12.6A Burton (Mercedes)12h03m08.2s        ---"---

Lap 10 - There were no retirements. Nazzaro advanced into second position and pushed Clément to third place. The battle for second place caught all the interest until the end. Szisz would hardly be displaced from first place. The race itself offered no further interest as the cars followed each other while holding their position. The heat was terrible, and all were tired. After ten laps, 1031.8 km, Szisz led at 103.850 km/h average speed with the following order of 12-car field after the 10th lap:
1.3A Szisz (Renault)9h56m07.6s
2.2B Nazzaro (F.I.A.T.)10h40m11.0s
3.13A Clément (Bayard-Clément) 10h41m34.3s
4.5B Barillier (Brasier)11h43m30.2s  1 lap behind
5.10A Heath (Panhard-Levassor)12h04m02.2s        ---"---
6.2A Lancia (F.I.A.T.)12h06m09.2s        ---"---
7.5A Baras (Brasier)13h11m35.2s  2 laps behind
8.6A Burton (Mercedes)13h14m42.8s        ---"---
9.1C Duray (Lorraine-Dietrich)13h21m54.0s  3 laps behind
10.5C "Pierry" (Brasier)13h30m51.0s        ---"---

Lap 11 - - The first four positions remained the same. There were no retirements. Burton who took over Jenatzy's car, lost more time with tire changes. He wanted to give up after a stone had injured his eye, but he could be swayed to finish the race. The time gaps between drivers were too large and the only interesting part was the battle between Clément and Nazzaro for second place. After 1134.98 km, Szisz led at 102.818 km/h average speed with the 12-car field in the following order after 11 laps:
1.3A Szisz (Renault)11h02m13.0s
2.2B Nazzaro (F.I.A.T.)11h48m35.0s
3.13A Clément (Bayard-Clément) 11h49m07.2s
4.5B Barillier (Brasier)12h47m38.2s  1 lap behind
5.2A Lancia (F.I.A.T.)13h15m58.8s        ---"---
6.10A Heath (Panhard-Levassor)13h23m27.2s  2 laps behind
7.5A Baras (Brasier)14h13m02.4s        ---"---
8.1C Duray (Lorraine-Dietrich)14h21m58.0s        ---"---
9.6A Burton (Mercedes)14h44m22.0s  3 laps behind
10.5C "Pierry" (Brasier)14h54m56.6s        ---"---

Lap 12 - - After 12h14m07s, the red Renault of Szisz was first to cross the finish line, which was confirmed by the trumpet signal. There was very little applause because the grandstand had been extremely deserted by the tired spectators in the tropical heat. Szisz had to change 19 tires but with the detachable rims, this had been no problem for him. Nazzaro (2B F.I.A.T.) arrived 32m19.4s behind in second place and Albert Clément (13A Bayard-Clément) followed only 3m20.4s behind, despite his tiring work of changing tires the traditional way. Gerald Rose p 254 > It was a terribly hard race, for the strain on the men was tremendous. The removable rims decided the fortunes of the day, and Clément must have driven magnificently to have come so close to the leaders, as he lost about ten minutes by every tire change. The remaining drivers still had to complete one, two or three laps. The three leading drivers Szisz and his mechanic Marteau, Nazzaro and Albert Clément were taken to the tribune d'Honneur, where they received vivacious applause, likewise the brothers Renault, who together with their driver were presented to the Minister of Commerce, Monsieur Barthou. Nazzaro and Albert Clément were also applauded. A little success still for the fourth, Barillier with the Brasier when the crowd left the scene. Lancia (2A F.I.A.T.) was 5th after 14h22m11.0s, American George Heath (10A Panhard-Levassor) was 6th after 14h47m45.0s, Paul Baras (5A Brasier) was 7th after 15h15m50.0s, Arthur Duray (1C Lorraine-Dietrich) came 8th in 15h26m01.6s, "Pierry" (5C Brasier) was 9th in 16h15m07.6s. The Mercedes drivers Burton in 10th and Marieaux in 11th place trailed four hours after Szisz had finished and many spectators had gone home by that time, which was at 4:38 p.m. Rougier (1B Lorraine-Dietrich) who held last place, had changed 14 tires the first day, driving three laps behind. After completing 11 laps he retired on the last lap with a damaged engine and was not classified.
      The first two cars were equipped with detachable rims and 21-year-old Albert Clément, after an impressive drive, would have finished better, had he listened to his father's advice to mount the new Michelin detachable wheel rims as were fitted to the other two Clément-Bayard. Only 11 cars out of 32 finished the grueling long race. The arrival of the detachable wheel rim also influenced all designers and forced them to carry out 50 kg weight reduction on their 1,000 kg cars. This alone enabled them to install the heavier detachable rims on all four wheels and install a strong carrier to hold two whole rear spare wheels.



1.3AFerenc SziszRenault FrèresRenault13.0S-41212h14m07.0s
2.2BFelice NazzaroFabbrica Italiana Automobli TorinoF.I.A.T.16.3S-41212h46m26.4s  +     32m19.4s
313AAlbert ClémentSA de Ets Clément-BayardBayard-Clément12.9S-41212h49m46.2s  +     35m39.2s
4.5BJules BarillierSociété des Automobiles BrasierBrasier12.0S-41213h53m00.0s  + 1h38m53.0s
5.2AVincenzo LanciaFabbrica Italiana Automobli TorinoF.I.A.T.16.3S-41214h22m11.0s  + 2h08m04.0s
6.10AGeorge HeathSociété des Anciens EstablissementsPanhard-Levassor18.3S-41214h47m45.4s  + 2h33m38.4s
7.5APaul BarasSociété des Automobiles BrasierBrasier12.0S-41215h15m50.0s  + 3h01m43.0s
8.1CArthur DurayDe Dietrich et CieLorraine-Dietrich18.1S-41215h26m01.6s  + 3h11m54.6s
9.5C"Pierry"Société des Automobiles BrasierBrasier12.0S-41216h15m07.6s  + 4h01m00.6s
10.6AJenatzy / BurtonDaimler Motoren GesellschaftMercedes14.4S-41216h18m42.8s  + 4h04m35.8s
11.6BGabriel MarieauxDaimler Motoren GesellschaftMercedes14.4S-41216h38m51.4s  + 4h24m44.4s
DNC1BHenri RougierDe Dietrich et CieLorraine-Dietrich18.1S-41115h55m38.0s    very slow
DNC4AVictor HémeryA. Darracq & CoDarracq12.7S-4713h20m50.0s    valves
DNF7ALouis RigollySté Gobron-BrilléGobron-Brillé13.5S-4710h12m28.4s    radiator
DNF3CClaude RichezRenault FrèresRenault13.0S-489h02m36.4s    crash
DNF12CElliott Fitch ShepardHotchkiss et CieHotchkiss16.3S-478h12m22.4s    wheel
DNF12AHubert le BlonHotchkiss et CieHotchkiss16.3S-447h40m14.4s    wheel
DNF10CGeorges TesteSociété des Anciens EstablissementsPanhard-Levassor18.3S-467h01m52.4s    rear spring mount
DNF3BEdmond MorelleRenault FrèresRenault13.0S-457h08m02.0s    injured
DNF13BAlfred VillemainSA de Ets Clément-BayardBayard-Clément12.9S-456h25m52.2s    wheel
DNF6CVincenzo FlorioDaimler Motoren GesellschaftMercedes14.4S-456h06m25.4s    wheel
DNF2CAldo Weill-SchottFabbrica Italiana Automobli TorinoF.I.A.T.16.3S-455h10m26.6s    crash
DNF13C"de la Touloubre"SA de Ets Clément-BayardBayard-Clément12.9S-434h36m05.0s    gearbox
DNF10BHenri TartSociété des Anciens EstablissementsPanhard-Levassor18.3S-444h02m38.0s    dumb iron
DNF12BJean SalleronHotchkiss et CieHotchkiss16.3S-423h03m03.0s    wheel
DNF4BLouis WagnerA. Darracq & CoDarracq12.7S-421h53m22.4s    valve
DNF8A Alessandro CagnoFabbrica Automobli ItalaItala16.7S-421h23m22.0s    radiator
DNF8CPierre de CatersFabbrica Automobli ItalaItala16.7S-411h59m09.6s    wheel
DNF1AFernand GabrielDe Dietrich et CieLorraine-Dietrich18.1S-40    radius rod
DNF8BMaurice FabryFabbrica Automobli ItalaItala16.7S-40    wheel
DNF9BXavier Civelli de BoschGrégoire et CieGrégoire 7.4S-40>    car too slow
DNF4CRené HanriotA. Darracq & CoDarracq12.7S-40>    engine
Fastest lap: Paul Baras (Panhard-Levassor) on lap 1 in 52m25.5s = 118.1 km/h (73.4 mph).
Winner's average speed: 101.2 km/h (62.9 mph).
Weather: very hot, sunny.
In retrospect:
Intermediate and final times differed between the sources. The selected times are believed to be correct.

Speed was timed over one km with a flying start in front of the grandstand.
Driver/cartimespeed km/h
Szisz (Renault)24.2s148.760
Barillier (Brasier)25.4s141.732
Nazzaro (F.I.A.T.)25.8s140.625
Richez (Renault)26.6s136.352
Marieaux (Mercedes)27.4s132.352
Lancia (F.I.A.T.)28.0s128.571
Clément (Bayard-Clément)29.0s124.137
Ferenc Szisz with his riding mechanic Marteau won the First Grand Prix in 1906. Without question, Michelin had made the victory possible with the introduction of their new detachable wheel rims. But at the same time, the 33-year-old Szisz, at the top of his driving career, drove magnificently, took no chances, and had developed a restrained driving style. His victory was not a coincidence! Ferenc Szisz with the unspeakable name, also called Ferenc in his native Hungary was born 1873. He came from Vienna to France in 1900 to work for the young successful car factory, founded two years earlier by the Renault brothers Louis, Marcel and Fernand in Billancourt. Louis and Marcel had started racing in 1899 with their tiny shaft-driven voiturettes, were victorious in many races, and had a thriving car production alongside. In 1901, their racing cars had 1-liter 8 hp engines and received their distinctive coal-shovel front. Ferenc Szisz was seen for the first time as riding-mechanic with Louis Renault in the 1902 Paris-Vienna race with the Renault in the light-car class, equipped with a 3,758 cc 4-cylinder engine. After mixing with the leaders in the early part of the race, they lost several hours in Austria due to accident repairs and ended up in place 28. At that time, Szisz was chief of the test department at Billancourt. At the 1903 Paris-Madrid race it could not be answered if Szisz was again riding mechanic with Louis or Marcel or if he had missed that race entirely.
      In 1905, Renault for the first time he had assigned Szisz to drive one of the three Renaults at the French eliminating trials for the 1905 Gordon-Bennett Race. Although Szisz was the fastest of the three Renault drivers, he could only hold fourth place after one lap and fell back to eleventh by half time. Despite overheating problems of the pump cooling system and tire troubles, Szisz nursed the Renault home into fifth place. It was regrettable that he missed a place in the three car French team for the Gordon-Bennett Race proper. Later that year, the Franco-Hungarian appeared with their 90 hp car at the 1905 Vanderbilt Cup race at Long Island. On the second lap, he had worked himself into second place. A leaking radiator, ignition and tire trouble eventually put him one lap down. At the end of the race after the fourth car had passed the finish, the disorderly crowd poured on the course with the battle still in progress, so the race was called off. Szisz, in fifth place ahead of others had to stop in the middle of the course and did not take the flag. For the 1906 Grand Prix, Ferenc Szisz and his mechanic Marteau had one of the three 90 hp Renaults.

Primary sources researched for this article:
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Wien
Der Motorwagen, Berlin
La France Automobile, Paris
La Vie Automobile, Paris
La Gazzetta dello Sport, Milano
La Presse, Paris
La Stampa Sportiva, Torino
L'Auto, Paris
L'Ouest-Éclair, Rennes
Motor Age, Chicago
The Autocar, London
Special thanks to:
Gerald Rose: A Record of Motor Racing
Giuseppe Prisco
Kris Culmer
Markus Neugebauer
Reinhard Windeler
Robert Dick
Taso Mathieson: Grand Prix Racing 1906-1914

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© 2024 Leif Snellman, Hans Etzrodt - Last updated: 21.01.2024