Rétromobile pays tribute to this extraordinary man by exhibiting the type H plane "Morane" (part of the Amicale Jean-Baptiste Salis collection) which was the first plane ever to cross the Mediterranean and the fabulous 5-litre 'Roland Garros' Bugatti (Louwman Museum Collection)
Roland Garros was not a tennis champion but a pilot and motor car enthusiast. 100 years ago Roland Garros completed the first ever air crossing of the Mediterranean in his plane, Morane.
A hero of the First World War and a member of the Stade Français, in 1913 Roland Garros completed the first ever crossing of the Mediterranean by air and broke a number of altitude records. On 23 September 1913 at 5.47 in the morning, he left Fréjus. 7 hours and 53 minutes later, Roland Garros landed "Morane" in Bizerte after flying 750 kilometres over the Mediterranean.
This aviation pioneer was also fascinated by technology: in 1915, he took part in the design of the first fighter plane with a machine gun that could fire through its propeller. In the same year, he landed in enemy territory because of engine failure.
He was taken prisoner, escaped three years later, and joined the elite "Cigognes" squadron. On 5 October 1918, just a few days before the Armistice and on the eve of his 30th birthday, his plane crashed near Vouziers in the Ardennes.
Roland Garros et l’automobile
Tout juste diplômé, il se fait embaucher par la firme Automobiles Grégoire. En même temps qu’à la pratique du commerce, il s’initie rapidement à la mécanique et au sport automobile, qui ne sont pas enseignés à HEC Paris.
Il ne tarde pas à vouloir voler de ses propres ailes. Son père, qui voulait faire de lui un avocat, lui coupa les vivres. Avec l’aide financière du père d’un autre condisciple d’HEC Paris, Jacques Quellennec, le voilà à vingt-et-un ans chef d’entreprise
et agent de Grégoire dans la boutique qu’il a ouverte au pied de l’Arc de Triomphe à l’enseigne « Roland Garros automobiles – voiturettes de sport ».
Roland Garros and motor cars
When he graduated from the Paris business school HEC, Roland Garros got a job with the Grégoire car firm. While honing his business skills, he rapidly familiarized himself with motor mechanics and motor sports, which were not taught at HEC. He soon yearned to spread his wings, but his father, who wanted him to be a lawyer, cut off his allowance. With financial help from the father of a fellow HEC student, Jacques Quellennec, Roland Garros became the head of a company and an agent for Grégoire in the shop he opened near the Arc de Triomphe called "Roland Garros automobiles – voiturettes de sport" (Roland Garros automobiles and sports cars).
Roland Garros and Ettore Bugatti
When Roland Garros met the great carmaker Ettore Bugatti the two men became friends, united by a shared passion for high-performance automobiles. Ettore Bugatti gave the name "Roland Garros" to the 5 litre Bugatti he ordered, and named his youngest son Roland after his friend's death.
The French Tennis Federation is excited to be contributing to this exhibit by proposing rare objects and documents.
Next May, the Museum of the FFT will have the great privilege of presenting the Bugatti 5-liter race car at its exhibit dedicated to the aviator Roland Garros, to be held during the 2013 French Open.
Roland-Garros stadium was built in just a few months to host the 1928 Davis Cup final, with France against the United States. To help with the realization of the project, the Stade Français gave up 7.4 acres located very close to the Porte d’Auteuil. Emile Lesieur, the president of the club, set only one condition: that the new stadium is named after her friend and classmate from HEC, himself a member of the Stade Français, and who died in aerial combat in October 1918, just a few weeks before Armistice. Ten years after his death, Roland Garros, who only played amateur tennis when he was young, was therefore chosen to watch over the destiny of the clay-court champions.
Located in The Hague, the Louwman Museum invites visitors to discover the oldest private heritage collection in the world devoted to the Great History of Locomotion. Covering over 100,000 square feet, it tells the story of the motor car from the De Dion Trepardoux to James Bond's Aston Martin.
Over a period of 70 years, the Louwman family has built up a collection of over 240 vehicles from all over the world. Each model has been carefully chosen for its technical and historic value.