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Thread: Russian motorsport history

  1. #1
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    Russian motorsport history

    As was requested, I'm starting a new thread about the history of Russian (pre-Soviet and Soviet) motorsports. I hope I'll be able to cover the maximum of it and will add the info periodically.

    Not to be a 'thief', here are some major sources:
    - Artem Kiselev - 'Battle for Formula' (RU, 2006),
    - tsar-auto-club.spb.ru,
    - other websites and forums (AtlasF1 forums, f1.pluto.net.ru forums, stop-n-go.ru/ussr-autosport and others),
    - magazines and articles I have,

    Hope I'm not violating this forum's rules providing the links
    Last edited by faksta; 11-21-2008 at 08:38 AM. Reason: Wrong site URL

  2. #2
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    The first automotive competition in Russian Empire, 1898.

    First automotive race ever held in Russia was initiated by Louis Mazy - French driver, who opened a shop in St.-Petersberg called 'Bicycles and motors' to deal with Clement, Gladiator and Phebus companies. Before it opened there were only about 12 cars (almost all were Benz cars, except one Delahaye, which, in turn, was a copy of German car) and several motorcycles (Hildebrandt and Wolfmuller) in St.-Petersberg. The race was planned to be an advertisement for his production and for horseless transport in general. Mazy's companions in case of competition organization were members of Society for Cycling in Russia.

    However, the start, aimed on October 4, 1898, was rescheduled. The reason was a poor condition of the roads, which had to take the event - Volhonskoye highway was completely unready for racing. Mazy had to take it himself, and till October, 11 the roads were repaired. But the same day a snowfall happened in St.-Petersberg, and the roads were covered with a huge amount of snow. Frightened, Mazy tried to drive those roads himself, but nothing came out of this. But since the meeting was dropped, the race couldn't already be cancelled. Moreover, he had to prove that horseless carriages were more convenient than the traditional ones.

    14 drivers were willing to participate, but only seven of them were actually present: two French racers - Louis Mazy himself and Alfonce Merl, and five Russians - Pavel Belyaev, Stepanov, Schneiderov, V.I. von Lode and Lavrentiev (couldn't find first names of last four). The race distance was 39 versts (old Russian measure of distance, 1 verst = 1,0668 kilometers) long. The start was held up near Alexandrovskaya railroad station, then the drivers had to hit Volhonskoye highway to Strel'na and head back to start. Six of seven participants drove the same Clement tricycles equipped with De-Dion engines with air cooling and 1,75hp output. Lavrentiev had the only four-wheeler - 6,5hp Benz Velo, but his result was not to be counted, as the weight of his Benz was 52 poods (1 pood = 16,3804815 kg), whereas maximum weight allowed was 6 poods.

    Starting order:

    10:08 - von Lode,
    10:13 - Schneiderov,
    10:15 - Stepanov,
    10:17 - Belyaev,
    10:19 - Mazy,
    10:21 - Merl,
    10:25 - Lavrentiev.

    Very soon after start von Lode hit the horse carriage (frightened horse turned it across the road) and turns upside down. One wheel was damaged, so there was no chance to run further. 45 minutes after start Mazy returned - his engine broke at about 12th verst. The first actual competitor finished at 11:50.

    Finishing order (finish time):

    1. Belyaev (11:50), av.speed 27,3 km/h,
    2. Stepanov (12:04),
    3. Merl (12:06),
    4. Schneiderov (12:17),

    5. Lavrentiev (after the timing was closed), not counted.

    But race results differed from the upper list, as they depended on a time spent to complete the distance. Thus, the results list was following:

    Race results:

    1. Belyaev (1:33:36),
    2. Merl (1:45:36),
    3. Stepanov (1:49:24),
    4. Schneiderov (2:04),

    5. Lavrentiev (2:11), not counted.

    As Belyaev told later, it was very hard to run such snowy roads (as some joke about Russian roads, Russia has directions, not roads) and going up the hills he had to help with his feet.

    Pictures:

    1. Pavel Belyaev on his Clement tricycle, 1898 (earlier that year). Source: tsar-auto-club.spb.ru.
    2. Benz Velo - not Lavrentiev's example, and not in Russia.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by faksta; 03-24-2008 at 05:38 AM.

  3. #3
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    Moscow-St.-Petersberg, 1899.

    In 1899, after such success of the previous year competition, Louis Mazy decided to make a 100-verst race. A traditional cycling race should’ve been taken between Moscow and St.-Petersberg that year, so the cars were included in cycling event.
    The race, scheduled on June, 20, saw six drivers (excluding cyclists): Louis Mazy (Clement-DeDion 2,25hp four-seater quadricycle with a bicycle seat), Gerz (Germany, drove 6-seater car), Comber (France) and Trubetskoi (Russia, both 8hp 2-seater cars), Schneiderov and Andrei Abrikosov (both raced for Russia and drove 1,75hp Clement tricycles).
    The route was following: Moscow – Torzhok - Vyshnyi Volochek – Nizhnyi Novgorod - Tsarskoe Selo, so the distance was not 100, but 650 versts (693,42 km).

    Starting order:

    12:30 – Mazy,
    12:31 – Schneiderov,
    12:32 – Abrikosov,
    12:33 – Trubetskoi,
    12:34 – Gerz,
    12:35 – Comber.

    Race direction counted tentative finish time and was waiting the first car back at 8-9 in the morning, but they didn’t note the human factor – drivers was tired, so the winner – Mazy, who leaded from start to finish – finished at 10:22. Trubetskoi and Abrikosov were 2nd and 3rd respectively, but were so slow that finished even after cyclists.

    Race results:

    1. Mazy (26:58),
    2. Trubetskoi (42:59),
    3. Abrikosov (42:23, disqualified),
    Schneiderov (ret. – mechanical breakdown at Torzhok),
    Comber (ret. – no one knows what happened to him up to now),
    Gerz (ret.)
    Last edited by faksta; 01-10-2008 at 01:46 PM.

  4. #4
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    Poor old Comber - I take it that noone ever saw him again?

    Great thread, great stories. This is exactly the stuff I was hoping for......much appreciated.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revo View Post
    Poor old Comber - I take it that noone ever saw him again?

    Great thread, great stories. This is exactly the stuff I was hoping for......much appreciated.
    Thanks.
    The phrase in the book sounded like 'Presumably, he suffered from mechanical breakdown, though no information about his destiny exist up to date'.

    BTW, if someone could find pics of Clement-De Dion 2.25 hp quadricycle with a bicycle seat, it would be greatly appreciated

  6. #6
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    May, 1899. 0,25-mile sprint.

    In May, 1899 St.-Petersberg saw the first in Russian history 0.25-mile sprint on track. Kamennoostrovskyi velodrome was chosen as an arena for this event. Scheme of race was rather interesting – the best result was chosen of 53 laps on a track, thus defining a winner.
    By completing a 0.25-mile lap in 26 seconds (55,7 km/h), Mazy won the race driving a 1.75hp tricycle (I suppose, Clement again). The whole 20-versts distance was better completed by Kumel on 2hp Aster-engined tricycle (24 minutes 56,8 seconds) at average speed 52,3 km/h.
    As I understood from the sources I used, this event was a motorcycle race, but the fact that tricycles participated in it allows to consider it a part of automotive racing history.


    I may work a bit slower sometimes - I have to pass the exams, yet three left.
    Last edited by faksta; 01-11-2008 at 04:54 AM.

  7. #7
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    Good luck with the exams.

    And great thread indeed.
    Lack of charisma can be fatal.
    Visca Catalunya!

  8. #8
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    5-miles run

    The same year in June drivers met again to compete on a velodrome in Moscow. The objective was a 5-miles run, in which Tideman (Russia) on tricycle took first place with the result of 11:36.8 (41,564 km/h), and the second place goes to Rudolf-Robert Lundberg (Russia, see below), who completed the distance driving a 4-seater car in 12:37.6 (38,229 km/h).

    August (May?), 1899 First record setting attempt.

    In August, 1899 (according to another sources May, 21) Russian driver from Strelna Rudolf-Robert Lundberg sets the first Russian landspeed record near St.-Petersberg, completing the 25-verst distance in 0:51:312 and showing the speed of 31,07km/h.

    27.08.1899 100 versts for Samokat prize.

    The first race for Samokat magazines prize was held in 27.08.1899 at 100-versts distance (Ligovo Gatchina Krasnoe Selo Strelna Volhonka Ligovo) and attracted 8 competitors, all driving Clement tricycles. The winner was Louis Mazy with 2:43:38 result (39,117 km/h).

    Picture:

    Typical start of tricycle race.
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    Last edited by faksta; 01-11-2008 at 05:21 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ferrer View Post
    Good luck with the exams.

    And great thread indeed.
    Thanks! Luck will be demanded

  10. #10
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    II Cup of Society for Cycling.

    The first event in XX century took place on 16.01.1900. The competitors had to drive from Alexandrovskaya again, as in the first race in 1898, but this time the route was changed: Alexandrovskaya – Krasnoe Selo – Gatchina – Pulkovo – Alexandrovskaya (65 versts in general). The direction was the same as for 1898 first race, too – the Society for Cycling.
    This time four of the five starters rode tricycles – 1.75hp (Stepanov and Vadim Mihailov) and 2.25hp (Fedor Tansky and Samuel Suurmets). The only four-wheeler was entered by the only foreigner – Barbais (France) drove a 16hp Mors, but he didn’t see the finish – somewhere on the distance he gave up and refused to remain the race.

    Race results:

    1. Vadim Mihailov (2:17:00, 30,369 km/h),
    2. Stepanov (2:50:00, 24,474 km/h),
    3. Fedor Tansky,
    4. Samuel Suurmets,
    ret. Barbais

    Picture:

    This is how the Barbais' Mors 16hp might look like: M Jenatzy with his 16hp Mors in 1899. Source: viewimages.com.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by faksta; 01-11-2008 at 06:15 AM.

  11. #11
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    Just a little sidenote. Samuel Suurmets can be considered as the first Estonian rally driver. But since we were a part of a Russian Empire back then, he appeares as a Russian in the contemporary race protocols.

  12. #12
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    In March First Russian Automobile Club in Moscow imposes its first regulations statues.

    1900 Luga - St.-Petersberg.

    Held on June, 11 and organized by Samokat magazine Luga St.-Petersberg 140-versts run was first time in Russia divided into two categories tricycles and cars.
    The favorite for the race was Hippolyte-Auguste Deschamps from France, who drove a 2.25hp DeDion-Bouton tricycle. The machine behaved good, so Deschamps became an overall winner and also took a win in tricycle class.
    One of the participants was Andrei Nagel - founder and director of Automobile magazine in Russia, which was printed through 1902-1917 and founder of Sport magazine in 1900. Besides, he often entered racing events and was famous person. This competition was his first attempt. Driving a Starley-Psycho tricycle, he started very good and overtook a favorite Deschamps, but after 7 versts a sharp stone punctured his tyre and the race was lost.
    Participants were prepared well for the race. Fedor Tansky, director of Pobeda company, which sold cars and motorcycles in St.-Petersberg, ordered a special 4hp Sonsin engine, which he exhausted during the race. Louis Mazy entered a Starley car he began to sell Starleys after Clement cars and tricycles. The new car went fine, but French driver had to stop from time to time the water leaked through the pipes. Nevertheless, he completed the distance in 6h 55m, but was beaten by Loginov (Russia). Loginov drove a two-seater car and spent 5h 06m.
    Vadim Mihailov and Fomin (Russia, dont know the first name), both on tricycles, suffered from sparking plugs their stocks went empty soon, and Samuel Suurmets had some accident during the race.
    Thus, in tricycle class the only one who finished was the winner Deschamps 3h 46m 30s after he started in Luga. He lost his cap, glasses, keys, punctured a tyre, but nevertheless he won.

    Race results:

    Tricycles
    1. Deschamps 3:4630 (overall winner),
    Ret. Suurmets,
    Ret. Tansky,
    Ret. Mihailov,
    Ret. Nagel,
    Ret. Fomin.

    Cars
    1. Loginov 5:06,
    2. Mazy 6:55.

    Picture:

    Andrei Nagel.
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  13. #13
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    Since I've mentioned, here's a bit more.
    Alongside with the above Moscow Club in 1900 a Moscow Automobiles Society (gonna be this way, I guess) was founded by N.Scherbatov. Moscow Automobiles Society (MAO - Moskovskoye Avtomobil'noe Obschestvo) was based in Scherbatov's residence in Tushino (Moscow) - Bratzevskyi palace, now the architectural monument (memorial? whatever). The MAO had its own atributes - peak-cap and a triangle-shaped tag put on cars belonged to MAO members.

    Picture:

    MAO arms. Low-res, but I'll try to find a higher-res version anywhere and update it.
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  14. #14
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    great thread dude, this stuff is great!
    Who killed the Electric Car?
    GO HABS GO!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZeTurbo View Post
    great thread dude, this stuff is great!
    Thanks! I'm trying to structurize it If I won't turn into plant sitting in front of the monitor, I'll make it up to nineties.
    Yes, and I think it will be ok to post cars specs here, and not in classic cars section? It should be more convenient.

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