- 100 years after prestigious duel: Opel fields historic racing cars in 2014 event
- Also on the track: “Green Monster” from 1914 with 12.3-liter engine
- Reminiscent of the beginning: Original track route largely unchanged
|100 years later: All three original Opel Grand Prix cars will start in Lyon again|
The Grand Prix de Lyon is considered the origin of all forms of major motor sport, including Formula 1. At the event in 1914, Opel entered three Grand Prix cars. Now, 100 years later, Opel is returning for the centenary demonstration on May 1-3 with those same cars, plus a very special Opel: the famous “Green Monster” complete with its 12.3 liter engine, 260 hp and 700 Nm torque. These cars will give spectators a contemporary, eyewitness experience of the sights and sounds that captivated the public a century ago.
July 4, 1914, the eve of World War I: despite mounting tensions in Europe, the French automobile club (ACF) held its first Grand Prix de Lyon. The Grand Prix de l’ACF had been an annual event at various venues since 1906. It was the highlight of the European motorsport season and a forerunner for the modern-day professional motor racing scene.
|Opel Grand Prix Race Car|
According to the new regulations of 1914, Grand Prix cars had 4.5 liter engines and a weight limit of 1,100 kilograms. The Opel cars’ technology was impressive: four valves per cylinder with a vertical drive shaft and overhead camshaft. A universal-shaft drive was also obligatory, replacing the long-dominant drive chain.
|The 110 hp Opel Grand Prix race car, from 1914.|
Friedrich “Fritz” Opel, son of company founder Adam, travelled to Lyon to support his drivers. The Grand Prix de l’ACF did not take place on purpose-built race tracks, but used public roads that were closed and specially prepared. The start and finish area of the 36.7 km long course, which had to be lapped 20 times, was in Brignais, south-west of Lyon, where a large display board kept spectators updated on the race’s progress. There were also grandstands at other locations on the course, but the majority of the around 300,000 Grand Prix enthusiasts followed the race directly from the course sidelines.
Opel started from the front row. Carl Jörns was alongside the Hungarian Ferenc Szisz, driving a French Alda, who was then an international star and the first Grand Prix winner ever in 1906. Starting positions were decided by a draw, as there were no qualifying runs in those days.
|Opel Grand Prix Race car with start number "2", Carl Jörns|
Grand Prix de Lyon 2014: Demonstration run for most attractive Grand Prix cars
All three Opel cars from 1914 are in the line-up for this year’s centenary celebration. One is from Adam Opel AG’s historic collection and another is being brought by its owner from Munsterland. The longest trip is being made by the third Opel, thought to be Carl Jörns’ car, which is coming all the way from California. As was the case a century ago, the focal point of the largely unchanged course will again be Brignais.
|Opel “Green Monster” - Schauinsland Mountain Race, Carl Jörns, 1925|
|Green Monster: Displacement giant with 12.3 liters volume, 260 hp and a phenomenal top speed of 228 km/h|
Further information on the Grand Prix de Lyon can be found on the organizer‘s website: www.grandprixdelyon.com.