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Early Milestones in Auto Racing

  • 1895 - The First auto race was held. It ran from Paris to Bordeaux and back, a distance of 732 miles. Thirty cars entered, 21 qualified and nine finished. Paul Koechlin was the winner, although he was the third to cross the finish line. Officially the race was for four seat cars and the first two finishers were two seaters.
  • 1903 - The Milwaukee Mile, the oldest continually operating race track in the world, holds its first race.
  • 1899 – The first closed-circuit automobile race was held at a horse racing track in New Haven, Connecticut. Hiram Percy Maxim won in a Pope Columbia.
  • 1903 – The French government banned racing on public roads after nine fatalities occurred during the Paris-Madrid race. The race was stopped by the French and Spanish governments and never finished.
  • 1909 – The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500 opens. The original track surface of crushed stone proved unsuitable, so over three million bricks were added to improve it. This gave it the nickname ‘”The Brickyard.” When it added a NASCAR race in 1994, it was named the Brickyard 400
  • 1911 – The first Indianapolis 500 was won by Ray Harroun. He averaged over 74 miles per hour in a Marmom Wasp. His entry in the race was controversial, because he did not have a riding mechanic to help him watch out for other cars. Instead, he used a rear-view mirror. Harroun later admitted it was of limited utility because it vibrated so much..