The sport of motor racing has thrilled thousands ever since it first began. It wasn’t long after the first ‘horseless carriages’ had been invented and improved upon that the idea of pitting the strengths of different designs, and the skills of drivers, against one another in a race was conceived. The first organized racing event was in actual fact a Reliability Trial run which took place between Paris and Rouen in 1894. The winning vehicle had to, not only cross the finish line first, but had to be safe, easy to control and reasonably economical to run. The first over the line was Count de Dion, but his vehicle was deemed impractical and the prizes were awarded to the next two cars instead. The winning average speed was only 17km/h but the event gave birth to a new craze – motor racing.
As designs continued to be improved upon, the new sport saw a continued increase in cylinders and engine size. The addition of the pneumatic tire was impractical at first but soon gained popularity. Chassis design changed radically and new brake and tire designs struggled to keep up. And as soon as one design became the winning standard, other car manufacturers would strive to improve upon these to bring their own names into the lime-light. By the early 1900s car speeds were approaching 100mph and races where held on open roads, where both drivers and spectators where often involved in bad accidents. Eventually in 1906 the very first Grand Prix for manufacturers was held by the French. The race took place on a 64 mile course which was lapped six times a day for two days.
It did not take long for other countries to follow suit. Germany became a popular place for racing and their Mercedes motorcars often dominated the scene. The Alfa of Italy and the Fiat and Peugeot of France rose to the challenge, and soon they claimed supremacy for themselves. Because of the dangers involved in racing on public roads, wealthy enthusiasts soon started building oval racing circuits which became very popular. An attempt was made to counteract the dangers of the sport by increasing the rules and regulations surrounding the event. Eventually a recognized and standardized racing sport emerged and much of these standards are still maintained in the motor racing sporting events of today.