The Rally Winner 1912

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A French magazine of the period, 'Omnia', carried a series of reports of the Rallye and their correspondent chose to go into some detail about the Picard entry on its Grégoire chassis and named by its owner 'Ménagerie Grégoire'. It was, he wrote, a light-hearted contrast to the elegant limousines with their fashionably dressed crews taking part in the event. Built in imitation of a gipsy caravan, it was hung about with brooms and shovels, pots and pans, and with a canvas sheet tied over the jumble on its roof, from which a stove-pipe protruded. With all its occupants dressed up in gipsy costumes it resembled the sort of outfit one might find on a fairground.

Omnia's man headed one of his reports 'Le Rallye Automobile de Saint-Sébastien' and, tongue in cheek, added the subtitle 'Un grande favorite pour le concours d'élégance - La Roulette Grégoire'. Well, M.Picard's ugly duckling entry failed to appear on the concours prize list nor, unsurprisingly, did it compete in the 3km hilly time-trial from the then much-favoured by fashionable society bathing resort on Spain's north coast. However, entrants and spectators alike were amazed when 'Ménagerie Grégoire' proved to be a clear overall points winner in the main rally. With 144.9 it was streets ahead of the second-place vehicle, a Hispano-Suiza with 116.64.

So how did a heavyweight motor caravan with a crew one short of a dozen triumph over a prestigious Hispano-Suiza? The Rallye, like today's 'Monte', started from a number of major European cities with the competitors converging by a number of different routes on Saint-Sébastien. Points were awarded as follows: 4 per 100km driven, 1 per 100kg of kerbweight and 5 per passenger carried. Closed cars with two seats were given 4 points, four seaters 8 points and, by extrapolation, we can assume that for 11 seats there were 22 points.

Deductions were 10 points per litre of engine capacity (the Grégoire may have been the 16HP of 3052cc or at most a 20HP of 3617cc) and 2 per km between controls if average speed was less than 30km/hr. 'Ménagerie', starting from Posen (Poznan) in Poland and travelling via Berlin, Strasbourg and Bordeaux covered a total of 2,355km. The points formula could scarcely have been better devised as far as the Grégoire caravan was concerned! The win netted M.Picard the tidy sum of 10,000 francs from the total prize money for the event of 70,000 francs.


Note: Article published in Motorhome Monthly, Britain's former number one motorhome magazine, by Chris Burlace, now an author at Motorhome and Campervan Magazine.

Did You Know?

Keep Right? Until the 1920s, the rule of the road in Canada varied from province to province, with British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island having cars driving on the left, and the other provinces and territories having motorists driving on the right. Between 1920 and 1923, these provinces' motorists were made to drive on the right. Newfoundland was not part of Canada until 1949, its motorists drove on the left until 1947.

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