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Here and There in Motoring's Past: 1901-Henri Fournier, Idol of France

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Pre-WWII Racing Topics:  Henri Fournier

Here and There in Motoring's Past: 1901-Henri Fournier, Idol of France

Peter Helck
Antique Automobile
March-April 1972


Henri Fournier, Idol of France by Peter Helck Henri Fournier, Idol of France by Peter Helck As for accidents...
As winner of both major classics in 1901, the Paris-Bordeaux and the Paris-Berlin, the muscular ex-bike champion, Henri Fournier, enjoyed and fully exploited the wide acclaim tendered to the Roi des Routes.  He was not only the idol of France but was similarly lionized by the early motoring enthusiasts in this country. His business affiliations here accounted for frequent visits.  His arrivals and departures were honored by the presence of the press.  He sought and granted interviews; flung stinging challenges at our meager handful of racing chauffeurs and wrote abundantly for our motor publications.

Always his message stressed the need of safety, the observance of all the precautionary strictures.  His "don'ts" forbade the occupancy of female companions alongside the man at the wheel.  The tonneau was for the ladies.  As for accidents, the true expert at the controls possessed the instinct to anticipate all such.  At all times sensitive to impending disaster, the master driver escaped the misadventures suffered by those motorists less prophetically endowed.

I believe the records state that the first railroad-crossing accident in this country was at Westbury, Long Island.  Several occupants of the completely demolished $8000 Mors were hospitalized.  The driver escaped unhurt.  He was Henri Fournier!

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