An Entertaining & Informative Vintage Automobile Internet Magazine

1902 Paris – Vienna: The Arlberg Pass – De Cater’s Mors – Peter Helck Artwork

Road racing  appears to have been born in France where the first important contests were run from Paris to other cities and were called Les Grandes Epreuves (The Big Events). The first one was from Paris to Berlin and was a tough 687-mile dash. This race held during 1901 was won by Henri Fournier in his 60-h.p. Mors, a French car in which he was also victorious with in the previous Paris-Bordeaux Race. This second event, the Paris to Vienna race held during 1902, was perhaps one the toughest of all early races and has become a legendary event because of this stage over the mountain pass.

This painting by Peter Helck depicts Baron Pierre de Caters descending from the Arlberg Pass portion of the event, which started with a tough 6000-foot climb up a wagon road crossed by car-killing drainage ditches. On the trip up and down the other side, racers had to avoid the vertical rock slabs which were used to keep out of control wagons from plunging over the steep sides. There were more than a dozen accidents on the decent caused by burned out brakes, leaving the racers no other means of slowing down other that crashing into the inner wall of the pass.

De Caters later in the race, ended up breaking a wheel in a shunt with Louis Renault, whose brother Marcel went on to win the event. De Cater’s and his Mors did manage to come in some four hours later after dealing with the wheel, finishing in the eighteen position. The car has survived and is in The Collier Collection. Be sure to see the other outstanding Helck art featured on The Old Motor. Artwork courtesy of the Helck family.

2 responses to “1902 Paris – Vienna: The Arlberg Pass – De Cater’s Mors – Peter Helck Artwork

  1. This wonderful car is still alive and well cared for in the Collier Collection, Florida. It is of interest that this is the first car to be fitted with shock absorbers, a single unit to each front wheel and double to each rear wheel. The shock absorbers operated by air being forced past a piston in a cast iron cylinder on the bump stroke and then the air is allowed to bleed back through a check valve on the return stroke. I can attest that they work well having driven this car on rough roads. At the end of the race the shocks can be seen in photo’s, hanging broken from their mounts. Heroic days, heroic men!

    • Eddie has done quite a bit of work on this car and he and the skillful crew at the Collier Collection keep this treasure of a car running beautifully. Your editor can attest to it as Eddie gave him a ride in it just last year. Thanks so much Eddie!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *