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Vintage Thrills Capture the Excitement of 1902 Auto Racing on Film

Even in 1902, people had a need for speed. While the automobile industry was still relatively new, there was no lack of innovation. Car manufacturers were creating new models and improving speed and durability. 

As the cars became faster, an interest in motorsports kicked off. 

A video from the King Rose Archives offers a rare glimpse into those early days of motorsports. The footage from 1902 transports us back to when auto racing was still a relatively new and exciting spectacle.

Below is the transcript from the video in English.

“Cars were designed as a new means of personal transportation, but very soon they began to be used for other purposes as well. This car, along with more than a hundred others, took part in all the early automobile races. Perhaps among the major European cities, Paris in 1902 saw one of the earliest, with the newly born cinematography also there, ready to document the dusty spectacle.

These are mostly production touring models driven by distinguished gentlemen, all proud to show off their brand-new automobiles. But there are also many racing cars, specially constructed according to the internationally agreed maximum weight of one ton. Manufacturers kept applying larger engines to lighter frames, producing more and more powerful cars.

These automobiles, reaching speeds of over 145 km/h (90 mph), powered the most exciting and dangerous races ever seen until then. At that time, France dominated the field. Here is one of its greatest drivers, the Cavalier René de Knyff, on his Panhard.”

Race Cars From 1902

While watching the video and seeing those 1902 race cars in action is cool, we wanted to share a few models from that year. Below are a few of the cars that raced in 1902. 

The 1902 Ford “999” Race Car was designed and built by none other than Henry Ford. he hired a bicycle racer named Barney Oldfield to drive the car, even though he had never driven a car. Oldfield would become America’s first famous race car driver in the nation. The vehicle featured 80 hp with an inline-4 engine. 

1902 ford 999 racecar
The Henry Ford

The 1902 Winton ‘Bullet’ No. 1 was created by Scottish immigrant Alexander Winton. The Bullet would make its debut drive on a Cleveland horse track. It would successfully complete ten miles in ten minutes and 50 seconds with an average 55.38 miles per hour. Winton would go on to win the Ormond Challenge Cup that year.

1902 winton bullet race car

Another impressive automobile that was made to race was the 1902 Mors Type Z. This 60 horsepower car was entered into the 1902 Paris-Vienna race. It would be one of six Mors entries into that race. William K. Vanderbilt would be one of the racers in this race driving a Mors.

mors type z 1902 racing car
Revs Institute

The racing industry has an amazing history. With one of the earliest recorded races being shown here, we can see that the passion has been there from the beginning.

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