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  • Sheryll Mericido

Rolls-Royce celebrates 110th anniversary, recalling 1913 Spanish Grand Prix victory

On the occasion of its 110th anniversary, Rolls-Royce is remembering the 1913 Spanish Grand Prix, in which Silver Ghosts finished first and third. This technological and tactical victory served as the model for the brand's illustrious victory at the 1913 Alpenfahrt a few weeks later.


  • On June 15, 1913, Rolls-Royce triumphed resoundingly in the inaugural Spanish Grand Prix, marking the 110th anniversary of that event.

  • In the 192-mile race, which was raced through challenging, mountainous terrain north of Madrid, the Silver Ghosts finished first and third.

  • Don Carlos de Salamanca, the new representative of the company in the Spanish capital, won the race thanks to teamwork and personal effort.

  • Eric Platford finished third and would later that month guide the legendary Rolls-Royce Works Team to victory at the 1913 Alpenfahrt.

  • An early instance of the brand's mission to inspire greatness among its owners and employees

"Rolls-Royce's dominance in long-distance races at the beginning of the 20th century is well known, but motor racing, particularly in continental Europe, was also essential in cementing the marque's reputation for performance and dependability. Today, we reflect on the Silver Ghost's victory in the first Spanish Grand Prix on June 15, 1913, which was a triumph of teamwork and selflessness in addition to Henry Royce's technology. Andrew Ball, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars' Head of Corporate Relations

On this day for the 110th time, Rolls-Royce is honoring the 1913 Spanish Grand Prix, in which Silver Ghosts finished first and third. This technological and tactical dominance served as the model for the brand's illustrious victory at the 1913 Alpenfahrt a few weeks later.

Three factors contributed to the Silver Ghost's overwhelming engineering and performance superiority: the flawless execution of strategic team tactics and the selflessness of one of Rolls-Royce's most seasoned and loyal workers.

SPEEDING AHEAD

Early on in the 20th century, automakers, especially upscale brands like Rolls-Royce, primarily used endurance tests to demonstrate the capabilities of their products. A succession of prestigious competitions, such as the 15,000-mile Scottish Reliability Trial in 1907 and the fabled run from London to Edinburgh in 1911, which was completed entirely in top gear, gave Rolls-Royce an unbeatable record in these demanding tests.

Motor racing was also rapidly developing in sophistication and appeal at the same time. The Automobile Club de France, of which the Hon. Charles Stewart Rolls, a famous motor racing pioneer himself, had been a member since he was 18 years old, organized France's inaugural Grand Prix in 1906.

However, by 1913, three years after Rolls' terrible early death, managing director Claude Johnson was eager to promote sales in Europe and regarded Continental racing as another crucial promotional opportunity. Generally, the corporation favored trials over racing.

The business entered two Silver Ghosts in the first Spanish Grand Prix, which was scheduled for June 15, 1913.

HIGH ACTIVITIES

Because it was a test of endurance and dependability—at which the Silver Ghost naturally excelled—rather than just raw speed, the Spanish Grand Prix appealed to Rolls-Royce.

The three-lap, 192-mile course included two challenging passes in the rough Guadarrama mountains, northwest of Madrid. Only four-seater touring automobiles were permitted, and they had to be equipped with mudguards, lamps, hoods, and two spare tires. Despite a shade temperature well above 30°C at the start in La Granja, bonnets were shut, and no water could be supplied to the radiator after the race had begun.

Among the 17 starting players were two modified Silver Ghosts. Don Carlos de Salamanca y Hurtado de Zaldivar, afterwards Marqués of Salamanca, who had lately been appointed as Rolls-Royce's new agent in Madrid, was the owner and driver of the first one (contrary to the company's clear intentions).

The second vehicle was a Silver Ghost owned by the corporation and operated by Eric Platford, one of Rolls-Royce's most seasoned and committed engineers and the man behind many of the manufacturer's prior victories in trials.

Plans and sacrifices

Platford established a commanding lead of more than 20 minutes after three hours of racing. Platford was racing under stringent orders because this was a business venture and not just a sporting endeavor. He stopped and let Don Carlos de Salamanca pass, putting aside his own selfish goals. The company's agent from Madrid went on to win the inaugural Grand Prix race held in his country in 3 hours, 34 minutes, and 12 seconds, with an average speed of 54 mph.

Unfortunately for Platford, the Marqués de Aulencia in Lorraine-Dietrich, who finished second barely three minutes in front of him, took advantage of his altruistic move to gain an advantage over him. At the time, races were still decided by hours.

ONLY AWARDS

But Platford's sacrifice was not unappreciated. Following the race, he drove his car to Madrid, where Claude Johnson sent him a congratulatory telegram. He was then given the opportunity to spend a vacation in Venice, partly as a present and partially to avoid the expected media attention. In addition, he was given two gold watches as payment; one was given by the Rolls-Royce directors, and the other was given by Don Carlos de Salamanca, who was extremely appreciative.

THE ALPENFAHRT UPON

Just one week before the grueling 1,600-mile trial through the Alps, the 1913 Alpenfahrt, began, the Spanish Grand Prix was won. As team manager, Platford would guide the Rolls-Royce Works Team to a clean sweep of the top four spots, cementing the Silver Ghost's position as "the best car in the world," according to the media. He is the ideal embodiment of the brand's mission of inspiring greatness, which still rings true at its core today thanks to his teamwork, commitment, selflessness, courage, and relentless pursuit of perfection.

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