Napier 100HP Gordon Bennett Racing Car
‘British Racing Green’ is now a familiar expression. In actual fact, it is not a British but an Irish colour.
In 1900 the newspaper magnate James Gordon Bennett, owner of the New York Herald, offered a trophy for a motorcar race for national teams. The annual race was held on the public roads of the previous winning country. A British car won the race in 1902, but since racing on public roads was illegal in England the 1903 race was held in Ireland instead. In honour of the host country the participating Napier racers were painted green, the Irish national colour.
Napier continued to use green for their cars from that time on.
Mark Mayhew, a well-to-do flour miller from London, entered this 100-hp rated Napier with its 11.1-litre four-cylinder engine for the Gordon Bennett Cup in 1904, but during the qualification race he crashed the car, damaging the front axle. As a result, the car performed badly and failed to qualify. It was again selected for the 1905 race but eventually withdrawn in favour of a newer Napier, the ‘Samson’. The 100-hp Napier finally ended up in a barn in the US and did not resurface until 1950.