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1920 FRENCH GRAND PRIX RACE.

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Pre-WWII Racing Topics:  French Grand Prix

1920 FRENCH GRAND PRIX RACE.

The New York Times
August 15, 1920


Announcement has recently been received by motor car manufacturers in this country that the Automobile Club of France has decided to revive the famous Grand Prix race in July, 1921. The conditions are materially different from former events and the entry fees made higher—in fact, the highest that have ever been required for any motor car contest. A maximum of fine cars may be entered by one manufacturer, the fees being 20,000 francs for one car, 35,000 for two, 47,500 for three, 57,500 for four and 65,000 francs for a five-car train.

The regulations specify that the cars must be equipped with engines of not more than 3 liters, equivalent to 183 cubic inches, piston displacement, and a minimum weight of 1,763 pounds with four wheels, tires and oil in the base chamber, but without water, gasoline, spare parts, tools, or spare wheels. The driver and mechanic together must weigh 264 pounds, or sealed ballast to equal the amount must be carried. There are no chassis or body restrictions other than a maximum length of tail of 59 inches measured from the rear hub cap to the extreme rear.

Before the race, all engines must undergo a bench test, when 30 h. p. must be developed for fifteen minutes at 1,000 r. p. m. and 90 h. p. at 3,000 r. p. m. for the same time. After these tests, there will be a sixty-minute brake test, when the power must not on any occasion drop below 90 h. p. at 3,000 r. p. m. No car can start in the race unless it has successfully passed the bench tests.

Entries must be sent to the Sporting Commission of the Automobile Club of France by Dec. 1, 1920, but later entries will be accepted up to Feb. 28, 1921, at double rates. The course has not been selected, but it probably will be near Strasbourg, in Alsace. Lyons and Le Mans are bidding for the event. The race will not be less than 350 miles in length. Entries from Germany or Austria, it is stated, will not be accepted.

While no definite action has been taken by the American industry, the subject has been under discussion by several leading manufacturers and a representative American entry seems virtually assured.

In commenting upon the possibilities of a British entry, The London Field calls attention to the great expense, including the designing and preparing of the cars, with the driving team.

"We may well doubt," adds The Field, "whether any British firm will face the almost prohibitive expense, for it is fairly certain that those who could face the ordeal with some hope of success do not now need to risk so much money for a dubious advertisement, since high-grade cars with engines of three liters capacity are beyond the popular purse in this country, and sell on other recommendations and merits than engine efficiency or a capacity for speed. Of course where a world market is in view the outlook may well justify the adventure, for possibly the reward may be great if success be well handled."



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