Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Victor Hemery

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August 1905. Circuit des Ardennes.

Victor Hémery (November 18, 1876 - September 9, 1950) was a champion driver of early Grand Prix motor racing who was born in Brest, Finistère, France.

In 1904 he joined Automobiles Darracq S.A. as their chief tester and helped prepare cars to compete in that year's Gordon Bennett Cup. He drove a German Opel-Darracq to victory at Hamburg - Bahrenfeld.

1905 was the most successful year in the racing career of Victor Hémery. In August, he drove a Darracq to victory in Circuit des Ardennes at Bastogne, Belgium and in October won the Vanderbilt Cup at Long Island, New York, beating a field that included racing greats such as Felice Nazzaro, Louis Chevrolet, and Ferenc Szisz. That same year he set a land speed record of 109.65 mph on December 30, 1905 at Arles, France driving a Darracq. In 1951, Hémery was retroactively awarded the United States Driving Championship for 1905.

He left Darracq to join Benz & Cie. in 1907 and in 1908 he won the St. Petersburg to Moscow race and finished second in the French Grand Prix. He scored another second place finish behind Louis Wagner at the United States Grand Prix in Savannah, Georgia.

The following year, on November 8, 1909 he set another new speed record at Brooklands of 125.946 mph driving the famous "Blitzen Benz" (Lightning Benz).

In 1910 his Benz racing team finished 1-2 at the United States Grand Prix with David Bruce-Brown winning and Hémery only 1.42 seconds behind in what was the closest Grand Prix finish up to that time.

In 1911, Victor Hémery won the Grand Prix de France at Circuit de la Sarthe driving a FIAT S61.

Involved with racing all his life, Victor Hémery died at Le Mans in 1950 at the age of seventy-three.

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