Lawlors Hotel

The Gordon Bennett Route

Classic and vintage car lovers take note: discover the fore-runner of modern international motor racing by retracing the original route of the 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup race through counties Kildare, Laois and Carlow.

Who was Gordon Bennett? The flamboyant son of a New York Media Baron, Bennett ended up in Europe after his playboy antics scandalized New York society. His passion for motor cars led him to sponsor the first-ever international motoring competition, which debuted in 1900, and arrived in Ireland three years later.

Back then, of course, racing cars were a tremendous novelty. Thousands of visitors came by boat to view the race, and an estimated 1,500 supporters brought their own vehicles, with the intention of touring the countryside themselves once the dashing drivers had finished.

The Gordon Bennett Route takes you on an historic journey across the spectacular Irish countryside and into the picturesque towns and villages of counties Kildare, Carlow and Laois. While the famous Gordon Bennett route was raced by the world’s greatest daredevils at record-breaking speeds in 1903, we suggest you set yourself a much easier pace. Relax, get your motor running and follow gently in the footsteps of our motoring pioneers taking time to enjoy many of Ireland’s best-loved visitor attractions and breathtaking scenery along the way.

Identifiable road signs make the Gordon Bennett Route an easy to follow tour through one of the most beautiful parts of Ireland offering a unique insight into the lives, atmosphere and sheer adrenalin behind the historic car race that roared across this 166km (104 mile) route. There is plenty to see on the Gordon Bennett Route for all the family, for motoring enthusiasts and for motor club members alike.