Victor Hemery, who had already made his name in
the Grand Prix races of the early part of last century,
waited until one day before the end of 1905 for his
attempt on the ultimate speed record.
himself a good margin towards success by using a
car which had a rated output of twice that used by
Baras in 1904. His choice was the 200 horse-power
Darracq, which had already successfully taken a number
of standing-start records.
The Darracq was powered
by a 221 litre V8 engine with overhead valves operated
by pushrods, and the use of short stub exhausts gave
onlookers the thrill of seeing flames shooting from
The car used shaft drive instead of
the so-far almost universal chains, and also had
a chassis of lighter construction than had been used
before. The bodywork consisted of a D-shaped gilled-tube
radiator round the front of the engine, and two bucket
seats for driver and mechanic.
It was in fact the
first of the cars built for the purpose of breaking
the land speed record, as opposed to the modified
road-racers which had dominated the scene so far. This
may have accounted for some of Hemery's success, for
he covered the kilometre in 20.4 seconds, raising the
speed to 109.65 m.p.h., more than five miles an hour
faster than the 100 horse-power Darracq.
a new speed venue for his run, the road from Aries
to Salon in southern France, apparently the only time
this stretch was used. The so-called 200 horse-power
Darracq which Hemery used to snatch the record was
made to the formula of the day, which made cars go
faster by making the engine bigger. Baras had used
100 horsepower, so Hemery thought if he had twice the
power he would go much faster. And he did just that,
however it wasn’t quite the duplication in speed
as would have been expected.
Rather, the larger capacity
engine only afforded an increase of five miles an hour.
Hemery's car was a giant of 170 x 140 mm, producing
a volume of 22,518 cc from it’s V8 engine.
It used some very modern aids for its day, including
mechanical inlet valves, shaft drive, a cone clutch,
gilled tube radiator, and coil ignition.
the celebrated Alexandre Darracq, started life as
a draughtsman and, like so many of the day, actually
started out manufacturing sewing machines, then bicycles,
before he turned to cars, making 1,200 a year of
his early 6/12 horse-power model. Darracq remained a
successful manufacturer right up to 1919 when he merged
with the French Talbot concern, thus starting the complicated
interweaving of the three firms Sunbeam, Talbot, and
Darracq which came later.