14/5/1870 - 6/11/1941
Record updated 02-Mar-23
Paul Baras was a road racing cyclist and racing driver from France. He competed in several early Grand Prix motor races, and held the world land speed record between November 1904 and January 1905.
Born in Orchies, France, Paul Baras started competing, like many of the pioneering racing drivers, on bicycles, finishing 3rd in the Grand Prix de Paris Sprint in 1894.
With the advent of the motor car he switched to four wheels and on 29th March 1901 he won the Voiturette class in the hill climb at La Turbie just outside Nice in Southern France in a time of 19m40s driving a Darracq 12 hp. He also finished second in class at Gaillon the same year.
He won the Voiturette class at the Bexhill Speed Trials in 1902 and took a third in class at La Turbie and a class second at Chateau Thierry all with his Darracq.
In 1903 he raced a 40HP Darracq in the ill fated Paris-Madrid race finishing 10th overall, 2nd in light car class. This was the last of the great city to city races and was halted at Bordeaux following a number of serious and fatal accidents to both competitors and spectators. On the hills he took a class second at Chateau Thierry for the second year running.
He was still competing with a Darracq in 1904 though now with a 100HP model and raced in the Circuit des Ardennes finishing sixth. He also came sixth in the Mont Ventoux hillclimb and in the sprints at Dourdan, Baras set the fastest time of the day. He also took the outright win on the hill at Gaillon though he tied with Louis Rigolly's Gobron-Brillié in a time of 29 seconds.
He participated in the French Gorden Bennet trials on the Circuit de l'Argonne which started and finished at Mazagran. However Baras lost a tyre and was forced to withdraw on the first lap with a broken wheel. On July 25th he raced at the Circuit des Ardennes but was forced to retire on the second lap. On November 13th that year, Paul Baras drove a Darracq to a new Land speed record of 104.53 mph at Ostend, Belgium.
The Darracq was notoriously unreliable and in 1906 Baras switched to a 4-cyl 12-litre 105hp Brasier. At the Circuit des Ardennes he retired on the first lap and at the first Grand Prix de l'ACF (French Grand Prix) he led the first two laps before dropping back to finish 7th.
He continued to race for Brasier in 1907 finishing third in the Grand Prix de l'ACF after Lancia ran out of fuel on the last lap. he returned to the Grand Prix de l'ACF in 1908 but retired after 3 laps with engine problems.
Paul Baras in his Brasier at the 1908 French Grand Prix at Dieppe