by Gauk
Tue, Nov 15, 2016 10:46 PM

Tour de France Automobile was a sports car race held on roads around France regularly – mostly annually – between 1899 and 1986.

The first edition was held in 1899 at speeds of 30 mph (50 km/h). The first event was won by René de Knyff driving a Panhard et Levassor. Organized by Le Matin, under the control of the Automobile Club de France, held July 16 to 24, in seven stages: Paris-Nancy; Nancy-Aix-les-Bains; Aix-les-Bains-Vichy; Vichy-Périgueux; Périgueux-Nantes; Nantes-Cabourg; Cabourg-Paris. Out of 49 starters, 21 vehicles finished. The 1908 event was won by Clément-Bayard.

The 1951 event was won by Pagnibon-Barracquet in a 2.6-litre Ferrari. The event visited La Turbie Hill Climb, near Nice. In 1954 the event was won by the 2.5 litre Gordini of Jacques Pollet and M. Gauthier, running on the traditional Nice to Nice route. The 1956 event was won by de Portago/Nelson in a Ferrari 250 2.9 with Moss/Houel (Mercedes 300 SL) in second place.

The 1960 Tour de France took place between September 15 and 23 that year. Starting at Nice it visited Mont Ventoux, Nurburgring, Spa, Montlhéry, Rouenand Le Mans with the finish at Clermont Ferrand. The event was won overall by the Ferrari 250 G.T. of Willy Mairesse/Georges Berger. The Jaguar 3.8 litre Mk. II of Bernard Consten/J. Renel won the Touring category with the BMW 700 coupé of Metternich/Hohenlohe winning the Index of Performance.

The 1964 event was won by Lucien Bianchi/Georges Berger in a Ferrari GTO, entered by Ecurie Nationale Belge. The event started at Lille, visiting Reims, Rouen, Le Mans, Clermont-Ferrand, Monza and Pau. The Touring car category was won by Peter Procter/Andrew Cowan in a Ford Mustang, entered by Alan Mann Racing. The A.C. Shelby Cobras of Maurice Trintignant, Bob Bondurant and André Simon all retired.

The 1980s saw the event incorporated into the European Rally Championship which saw an influx of new competitors. The last event was held in 1986. Also known as Tour Auto, it was revived in 1992 for historic cars, with both a competition and a regularity class. The format is a 5-day event combining about 2,500 km of roads, 4 or 5 circuit races and 6 to 8 hillclimbs. Patrick Peter of Agence Peter is the organiser. The start of the International event with some 300 entrants is in Paris; the finish alternates between various cities like Cannes, St. Tropez and Biarritz. The winning cars over the years (since 1996 only pre '66 cars can win overall, even though cars up to 1974 are allowed): Ford Shelby Mustang 350GT, Ford GT40, AC Cobra 289, Lotus Elan, Ferrari Daytona Gr IV.

published by Gauk