Albert Lemaître

Paris–Rouen 1894. Albert Lemaître (pictured on left) was classified 1st in his 3hp Peugeot Type 7. Bicycle manufacturer Adolphe Clément-Bayard was the front passenger.

Albert Lemaître (c. 1864 – in or after 1906), (aka Georges Lemaître[Note 1]), was a French sporting motorist and early racing driver. He was the first petrol powered finisher in what is described as 'the world's first competitive motoring event' when he drove his Peugeot Type 7 from Paris to Rouen at 19 km/h (12 mph) in 1894. The Comte de Dion had finished first but his steam-powered vehicle was ineligible for the main prize which was shared between the manufacturers Peugeot and Panhard.[1]

Throughout the 1890s he competed in a range of events and races driving Peugeots, but after their withdrawal from competition in the early 1900s he was contracted to drive Mercedes.

In 1906, while he was in Paris, he murdered his wife in a domestic argument after she had filed for divorce. He then fired the third gunshot into his own head, but survived. In September 1906 he was acquitted of a crime of passion.[2]

Family life

Albert Lemaître was born (circa 1864) in Aÿ, a village outside Épernay, where he worked in partnership with his brother as an exporter in the champagne industry. His brother's name is not established, but could be Joseph "Georges" Lemaître, born in 1868 in Aÿ as the son of the wine dealer Louis-Emmanuel Lemaître and M. Julie Fabry. This Georges Lemaître married into the Mercier champagne family and was also involved in motoring during the 1900s.[3] Circa 1901 (1900[2]), Albert married Miss Lucie Dumény after her first engagement with a Mr. Bruyant had been broken off for family reasons. His business was failing, resulting in serious domestic difficulties. After 4 years of marriage, Lucie had rekindled feelings for her ex-fiancée and in February 1906 she both filed for divorce and moved out of the marital apartment. On 7 May 1906 at the apartment on rue de Miromesnil in Paris he murdered her with two gunshots and then shot himself in the head. She was 28 years old and they had no children. Albert Lemaître was taken to the 'Hopital Beaujon'. On hearing the news of Lucie's death, Bruyant took his own life. In September 1906 Lemaître was acquitted of a crime of passion.[2] [4][5][6][Note 2] [Note 3] [Note 4]

Car racing

1894 – Paris to Rouen

On 22 July 1894, Pierre Giffard organised what is considered to be the world's first competitive motoring event from Paris to Rouen to publicise his newspaper, Le Petit Journal.[Note 5] The paper promoted it as a Competition for Horseless Carriages (Concours des Voitures sans Chevaux) that were not dangerous, easy to drive, and cheap during the journey. The 'easy to drive' clause precluded the use of a travelling mechanic or technical assistant, thereby making steam-powered vehicles ineligible for the main prize.[1]

Lemaître completed the 50 km (31 mi) qualification event on Friday 20 July, driving from Paris to Mantes-la-Jolie via Bezons, Houilles and Maisons-Laffitte. The 126 km (78 mi) main race from Paris to Rouen started from Porte Maillot and went through the Bois de Boulogne, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Courbevoie, Nanterre, Chatou, Le Pecq, Poissy, Triel-sur-Seine, Vaux-sur-Seine, and Meulan, to Mantes where he held first place with the best time 2 hours 36 minutes when they stopped for lunch from 12:00 until 13:30. Lemaître completed the final 80 kilometre section via Vernon, Eure, Gaillon, Pont-de-l'Arche, to the 'Champ de Mars' at Rouen in 4 hours 15 minutes. Lemaître and his 3 passengers took 6 hours 51 minutes 30 seconds to reach Rouen in his 3 hp Peugeot Type 7, the first petrol-powered car to finish, 13 minutes ahead of Auguste Doriot (Peugeot). The fastest vehicle, and the first home, was the steam-powered De Dion-Bouton driven by the Comte Jules-Albert de Dion, but was ineligible for the main prize because it needed a stoker, a technical assistant.[1]


On 29–31 January 1897 Lemaître finished second in the 'Marseilles-Nice-La Turbie' race driving a Peugeot. He completed the 240 km (150 mi) event in 8 hours 7 minutes 27 seconds, an average speed of 25.59 km/h (15.90 mph).[7]

On 24 July 1897 he finished 20th in the Paris-Dieppe Trail driving a Peugeot. He completed the 170 km (110 mi) event in 5 hours 27 minutes 46 seconds, an average speed of 31.19 km/h (19.38 mph).[7]

On 14 August 1897 he finished 3rd in the Paris-Trouville Trail, driving a Peugeot. He completed the 173 km (107 mi) event in 4 hours 17 minutes 40 seconds, an average speed of 40.42 km/h (25.12 mph).[7]

1898 – 1899

An 1899 Peugeot, – Tipo 19 5hp, 1056cc,

On 21 August 1898 he finished 3rd in the Bordeaux-Biarritz Trail, driving a Peugeot. He completed the 292 km (181 mi) event in 8 hours 4 minutes at an average speed of 36.19 km/h (22.49 mph).[8]

On 21 March 1899 Lemaître won the Nice-Castellane-Nice race driving a Peugeot. He completed the 120 km (75 mi) in 2 hours 52 minutes 50 seconds, an average speed of 41.87 km/h (26.02 mph). He was driving the latest version of rear engined, two cylinder, (140 mm bore x 190 mm stroke) Peugeot, in which he also achieved a standing start mile in 1 minute 35 seconds.[5][9][10]

On 24 March 1899 Lemaître won the La Turbie Hill climb in 24 minutes 23 seconds in the new 17 h.p. Peugeot.[5][11]

On 6 April 1899 he won the Pau-Bayonne-Pau race in a 10 hp Peugeot. He completed the 206 km (128 mi) event in 3 hours 57 minutes 36 seconds, an average speed of 52.155 km/h (32.408 mph).[9][10]

On 1 September 1899 he finished 3rd in the Paris-Ostende race driving a Peugeot. He completed the 323 km (201 mi) event in 6 hours 32 minutes, an average speed of 49.44 km/h (30.72 mph).[9]

1901 – 1902

Albert Lemaître with a 40 hp Mercedes Simplex at 1902 Nice–La Turbie mountain race

On 25 March 1901 he drove a Mercedes in the 392 km (244 mi) Nice-Salon-Nice event, but failed to finish.[12]

On 27–29 June 1901 he finished 28th in the Paris-Berlin Trail (Subsequently, named VI Grand Prix de l'A.C.F.) driving a Mercedes. He completed the 1,105 km (687 mi) event in 23 hours 9 minutes 53 seconds, an average speed of 47.73 km/h (29.66 mph).[12]

On 7 April 1902, during Nice week, Lemaître finished second in the 'Nice – La Turbie mountain race driving a 40 hp Mercedes Simplex during its first competitive event. He was competing in the category for racing cars weighing more than 1000 kg.[13]

Other Languages