Motoring events began soon after the construction of the first successful gasoline-fueled automobiles. The first organized contest was on April 28, 1887, by the chief editor of Paris publication Le Vélocipède, Monsieur Fossier. It ran 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from Neuilly Bridge to the Bois de Boulogne. It was won by Georges Bouton of the De Dion-Bouton Company, in a car he had constructed with Albert, the Comte de Dion, but as he was the only competitor to show up it is rather difficult to call it a race. Another solo event occurred in 1891 when Auguste Doriot and Louis Rigoulot of Peugeot drove their gasoline-fueled Type 3 Quadricycle in the bicycle race from Paris–Brest–Paris. By the time they reached Brest, the winning cyclist Charles Terront was already back in Paris. In order to publicly prove the reliability and performance of the ‘Quadricycle’ Armand Peugeot had persuaded the organiser, Pierre Giffard of Le Petit Journal, to use his network of monitors and marshalls to vouchsafe and report the vehicle’s performance. The intended distance of 1200 km had never been achieved by a motorised vehicle, it being about three times further than the record set by Leon Serpollet from Paris to Lyon. Paris–Rouen: the world’s first motoring contest
On July 23, 1894, the Parisian magazine Le Petit Journal organized what is considered to be the world’s first motoring competition from Paris to Rouen. Sporting events were a tried and tested form of publicity stunt and circulation booster. Pierre Giffard, the paper’s editor, promoted it as a Competition for Horseless Carriages (Concours des Voitures sans Chevaux) that were not dangerous, easy to drive, and cheap during the journey. Thus it blurred the distinctions between a reliability trial, a general event, and a race. One hundred and two competitors paid 10 francs entrance fee. Sixty-nine cars started the 50 km (31 mi) selection event that would show which entrants would be allowed to start the main event, the 127 km (79 mi) race from Paris to Rouen.
The entrants ranged from serious manufacturers like Peugeot, Panhard, or De Dion to amateur owners; only 25 were selected for the main race. The race started from Porte Maillot and went through the Bois de Boulogne. Count Jules-Albert de Dion was first into Rouen after 6 hours and 48 minutes at an average speed of 19 km/h. He finished 3’30” ahead of Albert Lemaître (Peugeot), followed by Doriot (Peugeot) at 16’30”, René Panhard (Panhard) at 33’30” and Émile Levassor (Panhard) at 55’30”. The official winners were Peugeot and Panhard as cars were judged on their speed, handling and safety characteristics. De Dion’s steam car needed a stoker which was forbidden. Early races
he Paris–Bordeaux–Paris race of June 1895 has sometimes been described as the “first motor race”, despite the 1894 event being decided by speed and finishing order of the eligible racers.[dubious – discuss] The first to arrive was Émile Levassor in his Panhard-Levassor 1205cc model. He completed the course (1,178 km or 732 miles) in 48 hours and 47 minutes, finishing nearly six hours before the runner-up. The official winner was Paul Koechlin in a Peugeot. Nine of twenty-two starters finished the course. The first American automobile race is generally held to be the Thanksgiving Day Chicago Times-Herald race of November 28, 1895. Press coverage of the event first aroused significant American interest in the automobile. The 54.36-mile (87.48 km) course ran from the South side of the city, north along the lakefront to Evanston, Illinois, and back again.
Frank Duryea won the race in 10 hours and 23 minutes, beating the other five entrants. The first regular auto racing venue was Nice, France, run in late March 1897, as a “Speed Week.” To fill out the schedule, most types of racing events were invented here, including the first hill climb (Nice – La Turbie) and a sprint that was, in spirit, the first drag race. An international competition, between nations rather than individuals, began with the Gordon Bennett Cup in auto racing. The Parisian artist Ernest Montaut, and his wife Marguerite, faithfully documented the rapidly changing face of motorised transportation in Europe. They produced large numbers of posters and prints published by Mabileau et Cie, covering racing events involving motorcars, aircraft, dirigibles and speedboats. These images formed a valuable contribution to the history of transport, and particularly to its racing aspect.