By Mr.John O’Donoghue T.D. Minister for Arts, Sport & Tourism
I welcome this website, which traces the route taken through the roads of Laois, Kildare and Carlow, by the famous Gordon Bennett Cup Motor Race in 1903 – an international contest that was the precursor of the present day Formula 1 Grand Prix.
I am sure that this website will prove to be a marvellous guide to the Route.
We must be grateful to the dedicated motoring historians who have unearthed so many interesting facts about the 1903 race, including the lobbying campaign to bring it to Laois, which stressed its value for tourism and the improvements it would bring to the roads.
In 1903, the motorcar had a future that few would have dreamt of in those days when the speed limit in Britain and Ireland was 12 miles per hour. A special Act of Parliament was passed to allow the circuit to be closed in for the Gordon Bennett Cup and this enabled the winning Belgian driver to average 49.2 miles per hour in a time of 6 hours and 39 minutes.
The original route is now a focused tourist attraction in its own right, taking in quiet and scenic country roads, towns and villages, with many heritage attractions. I congratulate all involved in this excellent website and I hope its wide circulation and association with the annual rallies and other motoring events will do much to promote the great benefits of motor sport and tourism in these counties.