By Brian Byrne.
THE latest milestone to the iconic 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup Race, which took place on a closed roads circuit around Kilcullen, Portlaoise and Athy, was placed on Saturday 25 July.
Some 21 vintage and veteran cars did a run around the 64km course twice, the first time that was done since the original 7-laps race in 1903.
It was organised by Sean O’Gorman, who said that the normal annual run would do one lap, stopping off at various places. But this wasn’t possible with the pandemic restrictions this year, so the participants did two laps, with an open air picnic lunch stop at the Moat of Ardscull near Athy, where the memorial to the original race is located.
“Because of the nature of the run, we had to have good performing cars only, ” Sean O’Gorman says. “The oldest was 1919, the youngest 1931. We had cars from Dublin, Wicklow, Monaghan, Wexford, Waterford, Carlow and Kildare.” In what he described as ‘the cream of the cream’, the cars included seven Bentleys, Lancias, a Bugatti, Vauxhalls, and an Alvis.
The participants included families of ‘regulars’ in the vintage and veteran car area, including Freynes and Bolands of Naas, Roes, Kavanaghs of Newbridge, and of course the O’Gormans themselves. “My own dad, Benny, is here today and he is the only surviving participant in the 1953 commemoration rally.”
All Covid-19 precautions were observed, which meant the usual social interactions of such an event were not possible, but Sean O’Gorman says they have developed a model for running events in a time of coronavirus.