Camille Jenatzy (1868, Schaerbeek – 8 December 1913, Habay la Neuve) was a Belgian race car driver. He is known for breaking the land speed record three times and being the first man to break the 100 km/h barrier. He was nicknamed Le Diable Rouge ("The Red Devil") after the colour of his beard.
On 17 January 1899 at Achères, Yvelines near Paris, France, he reached the speed of 66.66 km/h (41.42 mph) over one kilometre, driving a CGA Dogcart. That same day, the record was broken by Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat, topped on 27 January 1899 when Jenatzy achieved 80.35 km/h (49.93 mph). This record was again broken by Chasseloup-Laubat, who applied rudimentary streamlining to his Jeantaud. Jenatzy replied with his third land speed record on 29 April 1899, reaching 105.88 km/h (65.79 mph) in the electric CITA Nº 25 La Jamais Contente, the first purpose-designed land speed racer, and the first record over 100 km/h (62 mph). In 1902, he lost the land speed record to Léon Serpollet.
Jenatzy won the 1903 Gordon Bennet Cup in Athy, Ireland, at the wheel of a Mercedes. Auto racing was a deadly sport at the time and at some point Jenatzy predicted he would die in a Mercedes.
Jenatzy died in 1913 in a hunting accident. He went behind a bush and made animal noises as a prank on his friends who were hunting with him. Alfred Madoux, director of the journal L'Etoile Belge, fired, believing it was a wild animal. When they realised it was Jenatzy, they rushed him to hospital by car; he bled to death en route, fulfilling his own prophecy he would die in a Mercedes. He is buried at the Laeken Cemetery in Brussels.
- ^ J.R. Holthusen, The Fastest Men on Earth, (Sutton Publishing, 1999), p. 6
- ^ "The Electric Era". Thrust SSC. 1997. Retrieved 18 October 2006.
- ^ Northey, Tom. "Land Speed Record", in Northey, Tom, ed. World of Automobiles (London: Orbis, 1974), Vol 10, p. 1162.
- ^ eMercedesBenz, A Look Back At Camille Jenatzy And The 1903 Gordon Bennett Trophy (3 June 2008) Archived 12 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine at www.emercedesbenz.com
- ^ Wikisource:Popular Science Monthly/Volume 57/August 1900/The Evolution and Present Status of the Automobile
- ^ JENATZY SHOT DEAD.; Famous Belgian "Red Devil" Auto Racer Killed in Hunting Accident. – The New York Times
- ^ "The day the country stopped to watch the Great Race". Leinster Express. May 2003. Archived from the original on 26 November 2005. Retrieved 18 October 2006.