Motor Racing at the 1900 Olympics: Who Won the Seven Seater Car Race?

han-yue
Han Yue of China

If you asked who’s the fastest on two wheels, you’d probably think there’s a sprint cyclist somewhere who has a record. In fact, the fastest man to sprint 200 meters with a flying start is Francois Pervis of France, who chomped up 200 meters in 9.347 seconds. Then there’s Gong Jinjie of China who pedaled 250 meters in 18.282 seconds from a standing start.

But there’s a new kid in town, Han Yue of China. He’s the fastest on two wheels, except his vehicle of choice is a Mini Cooper. That’s right. He set his speed record using only the wheels on the left side of his car. On January 18, 2017 Han set a Guinness World Record for the “Fastest Side-Wheelie Lap of the Nurburgring Nordshleife.” (No, I won’t write that again.) He was wheels up for 22.81 kilometers, and sped around the track in 45 minutes and 59 seconds.

You can watch a bit of Han’s incredible driving chops here.

In a somewhat meaningless associative leap, I wondered if motor racing had ever actually been an Olympic sport. And in fact, it was.

The 1900 Olympics, otherwise known as the II Olympiad, were held in Paris, France, after the debut of the modern Olympiad in Athens four years before. The Olympics were not the super-organized extravaganzas then as they are today. In fact, the II Olympiad basically piggy-backed on the 1900 World’s Fair. There were no opening and closing ceremonies in this longish Olympics that went from May to October, and there were quite a few events that debuted and ended with the 1900 Olympics, including ballooning, cricket, croquet as well as automobile racing.

Although considered an unofficial Olympic event, there were actually an abundance of motor racing events. For example the 2 seater car under 400 kg, and of course 2 seater car over 400 kg, the 7 seater car, the taxi – electric / petrol, the delivery van 500 to 1200 kg electric / petrol, and yes, even the fire truck race.

To be honest, I’d pay to see a fire truck race.

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Motor racing at the 1900 Olympics in Paris.

Another interesting aspect to the motor car competition at the Olympics was that the competitors were classified primarily by the auto manufacturer, not the driver. So as you can see in the official results, the winners of these events are not clear. What is clear is that the home team had a distinct advantage as France took home practically every medal.

That is, excepting the fire truck race. For some reason, the name of the winner is known – Gilbert Brown of the USA.

 

 

The Answer to the Question in the Title: No one. Only the silver medal was awarded. No, I have no idea why.