It was this: the Darracq 200HP Land Speed Record car, built in 1905. For those of us who don’t know a huge amount about the pre-war era we should probably go into some background.
The car was built by Pierre-Alexandre Darracq as a follow-up to his first record breaking car, which had hit 104.52mph in 1904. Having claimed the record Darracq elected not to sit on his laurels, and instead invested in a 200hp V8, making his next creation the most powerful racing car in the world for some time.
Described by some at FoS as ‘an engine on wheels’ the lightweight Darracq made its attempt on the record on a road in southern France in December 1905 with Victor Henery at the wheel: clocking a run of 108.59mph.
Darracq wasn’t done. He shipped the car across the Atlantic to Florida for 1906 Daytona-Ormond Speed Trials. There, in the hands of Louis Chevrolet (Hemery had been disqualified due to his behaviour), it eventually hit 122.45mph on the sands.
That was the end of Darracq’s time with his amazing machine, as the 200hp was sold to Algernon Lee Guinness (heir to the brewers) and brought to Britain; where it would set several more records before being retired in 1909.
The car was bought by Mark Walker in 2006 and it is he you can see piloting the beast with incredible skill in the video above.
While we at GRR had to look that up, thankfully those in the Goodwood Competitions department do know a thing or two about their pre-war machinery, and invited the Darracq to take part in the ‘Clash of the Titans’ class, against other Land Record cars, such as the famous Fiat S76.
As you can see in the video Walker is a very brave man, as was his passenger! Even more so when you realise he entered the car into the timed shootout …