Make a selection...


The first recorded race was in France on the 28 April 1887, organised by the chief editor of a Paris publication called Le Velocipede. The 2km race was from Neuilly Bridge to Bois de Boulogne and was won by Georges Bouton in a car made by the De Dion Bouton Company withassistance from Albert the Comte de Dion. As they were the only competitors to show up it could not be classified as a 'race'.

The first officially recognised race took place 7 years later on 23 July 1894, organised by the French magazine Le Petit Journal andwas advertised as a 'competition for horseless carriages'. 102 competitors paid the 10 Franc entrance fee. 69 cars showed up for thepre event which was from Paris to Rouen, only 25 cars were selected for the official main race which started from Porte Maillot, through Bois de Boulogne to Rouen. Count Jules-Albert de Dion was the first to cross the line in 6hrs and 48 mins. at an average speed of 19 km/hr. The official winners were Peugeot and Panhard as de Dions car needed a stoker which was not allowed.

The first USA race was on 28 November 1895 in Chicago and was known as the Thanks Giving Day Chicago Times-Herald race, over a distance of 87.48 kms and was won by Frank Duryea in 10 hrs 23 mins, beating 5 other entrants.

In March 1897 the first 'Speed Week 'became a regular event held in Nice, France and it is also where the first 'sprint events 'now known as drag racing occurred.

In 1903 city to city racing was banned when Marcel Renault died in the Paris - Madrid race. There were 9 fatalities in this race and the French government stopped the race in Bordeaux. In 1907 there were 5 entrants in the Peking to Paris race which was won bythe Italian Prince Borghese over a distance of 9317 miles. 6 teams entered the longest race in history which was from New York to Paris in 1908, a distance of 22000 miles, which took 169 days and was won by George Schuster in the American 'Thomas Flyer'.

The second oldest racing track was built in Milwaukee, originally for horse racing,  the 1.6km track was used in 1903 for the Milwaukee Mile. Marion County Fairgrounds lay claim to the Knoxville Raceway, built in the late 1800s and first used in 1901The race was deemed not good because of the wind. Sanctioned races only started in 1914. In 1961 Roy Robbins won the firstKnoxville Nationals which are now sanctioned by the World of Outlaws.

The first purpose built raceway was in Surrey,England, known as Brooklands it was in operation in June of 1907 and featured a 4.43 km concrete track with high speed banked corners. It was damaged during World War 2 and never re-opened.

In the 1930 manufacturers such as Alfa Romeo, Bugatti and Mercedes Benz started to differentiate the manufacturing of cars for man in the street and racing cars, which were more streamlined with engines producing over 600hp.

William France snr. founded Nascar racing in February 1948, and in 1949 saw their first " Strictly Stock' race take place atDaytona Beach, Florida on June 19th, 1949. The first Nascar event held outside of the US, was in Canada in 1952 at the Stamford Park track in Ontario. The 200 lap dirt track event was won by Buddy Shuman. By the end of 1970 all the dirt trackNascar events had come to an end and racing was done on concrete tracks. From 1972 to 2003 Nascar became known by the sponsors name The Winston Cup Series, and there was a reduction in races from 48 to 31 per year. From the 1960s there were huge developments in the motoring world which saw a number splits in a variety of types of racing in the USA,Europe and England. There were endurance races, IMSA camel GTP series, Touring car championships, Drag Racing, off road such as the Dakar Ralleyetc, and an increasing dominance by Nascar.The Indy Car series split from CART when they saw an emphasis on domestic open wheelracing on ovals.

The worlds most followed motor racing sport is known as Formula 1 or F1. This is an open wheel, open cockpit vehicle withaerofoils to create a downforce to assist contact of the wheels on the track and involves a number of competitions held world wide for drivers and manufacturers. In the USA similar, but not so sophisticated cars are used in the National Championshipalso known as Indy car racing, their most famous race being the Indianapolis 500.

The forming of the F I A ( Federation Internationale de l'Automobile ) in 1946 saw a governing body to oversee motor racinginternationally and in 1950 they introduced a World Drivers Championship. This had its roots from Grand Prix motor racing of the 1920 and 1930s. Alfa Romeo dominated the early years, with Enzo Ferrari snapping at his heels. In 1954 Lancia and Mercedes Benz joined the F1 circuit. At the end of the 1955 season, Mercedes Benz left the circuit after one of their sports cars was involved in an accident at Le Mans, killing some 83 people. They stayed out of F1 for forty years. That same year saw Lancia hand all their technology to Ferrari,after their number 1 driver Ascari was killed at Monza, testing a new sports car.1958 saw the introduction of the Constructors Championship, and race distances were reduced from 500km to 300km. This year also saw the first female F1 driver, Maria Teresa de Filippis, in the Belgian Grand Prix in a privately ownedMaserati. 1958 /59 /60 saw fierce competition between England’s Stirling Moss and Australian Jack Brabham with Moss winning in 58 and 60. From 1962 through to '67 there were some notable changes in the use of composite materials being allowed in the construction of F1 cars and of course the competition among the drivers, like Jim Clark, John Surtees ( who also won theworld Motor cycle Championship in 1964 ) the only formula 1 driver to win both titles in one year, Brabham and Hulme.

The next decade, from 1968 to 1977 saw some innovative designs and some changes to the overall appearance of F1 cars. AlsoThe FIA allowed non related sponsors to the industry, so huge sums of cash were injected into the sport. 1968 saw the Introduction of aerofoils and sadly the loss of one of F1 great competitors when Jim Clark was killed in an accident at Hockenheim.The introduction of aerofoils, as a new innovation went through ups and downs, sizes and mountings to create the best resultsfor the cars, as did various engine types, and the use of 4 wheel drive in comparison to 2 wheel drive and even a six wheel vehicle. Technology came to the fore in road holding and it was found undisputedly that wider tyres and the use of aerofoils did the trick. The main constructors over this period were, Lotus,Tyrrell , Mc Claren, Ferrari and later the Wolf team. Therewere also a host of well known drivers such as Niki Lauda, James Hunt, Emerson Fittipaldi, Carlos Reuterman and JodyScheckter. In 1976, Niki Lauda was in an accident on the Nurburgring, and was taken to hospital and given the last rites,but these guys are made of tougher stuff and 6 weeks later he was back on the track. 1975 was the year the ladies got on the score board when Lella Lombardi became the first woman to score points in a Grand Prix comming home in 6th position.

Between 1978 and 1982 saw some new innovations in road holding ability for the F1 cars. Firstly Lotus developed a wing profiled sidepod which sealed to the ground with flexible Lexan skirts increasing the downward force yet reducing drag. A point was proved with Mario Andretti and team mate Gunnar Nilsson won 5 Grand Prixes. In 1979 Andretti became the first driver to win the championship as well as the American Indy car championship. Goodyear who had always had the lions share of the tyres in F1 were suddenly confronted with the new Michelin Radial tyre that gave good surface contact and seemed to be harder wearing.In the early years of the 80's the controlling bodies of racing got into administration battles that overshadowed what was happening on the track much to the disheartenment of fans and drivers. In 1979 Jody Scheckter won Ferrari's last title for the next 21 years, and no one was paying attention to the new comers such as Gilles Villeneuve, Keke Rosberg and Nelson Piquet.The deaths of Patrick Depallier in 1980 and in 1982 of Gilles Villeneuve and cripling injury to team mate Didier Pironi brought attention back to the drivers and allowed the administrators to settle their differences. This period also saw the introduction of carbon fibre bodies over the old honeycombed aluminium ones.

1983 saw Nelson Piquet win the championship for the Brabham team in a first ever win in a turbocharged engine. Changes were in the air and restrictions were placed on fuel consumption and then on the turbocharger pressures allowed. The 3.5lt atmospheric cars were now almost on a par with the turbo’s of 1988. In 1984 re-fueling during a race was banned affecting the thirsty turbo charged cars. With administration in fighting in the past, the sport flourished despite the dominance of the two top teams of McClaren and Williams. this period of time saw the great rivalry between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. Prost held advantage winning three world titles in a row. 1988 was the year that Prost and Senna, driving for the McClaren team won15 of the 16 races in a season, still unmatched today. 1989 saw the banning of turbo engines, and rivalry that overflowed when Senna admitted to deliberately driving into Prost at the Japanese Grand Prix. Re-introduction of refueling in a racechanged race strategy, with races becomming more of a series of sprints.In the 1990s teams started introducing electronic aids for the drivers such as semi automatic gear boxes, traction control and active suspension. Complaints cameto the fore in that electronics were giving drivers unfair advantages and it was electronics winning the races and not thedrivers. The FIA stepped in and banned these extras but unfortunately did not have the technology to see this through effectively.1992 saw Nigel Mansell eventually winning a title after 10 years of trying and Williams was the team to beat after dominating the last three years.1994 also saw a new kid on the block in Michael Schumacher entering the arena, and tragedy with two serious accidents and the deaths of Ayrton Senna and two weeks later Karl Wendlinger at the Monaco Grang Prix. The FIA jumped in boots and all to make motor racing, a safer sport.Special racing fuels were banned and cars had to run on standard petrol,motor capacity was reduced from 3.5lt to 3.0lt,as well as other changes made to reduce speed. The Renault engine was showing its superiority, powering both Benetton and Williams. In the late 1990s cracks had developed in the industry with the disappearance of household names like Brabham,Benetton and Lotus, due to finacial difficulties.

When the dust settled, Williams was in partnership with BMW , Hakkinen was in fierce competition with Schumacher and Ferrari was back in the winning stall since Jody Scheckter in 1979.In 2002 Ferrari finished in every race with Schumacher winning 15 from 17 starts. Ferrari dominated from 2002 to 2004 causing spectator attendances to drop radically. Ferrari faded in 2005 with Renault coming to the fore. 2005 saw the last of the small independents out of F1, a tie of alliances and a split in others in the major players and the entrance of Honda on to the scene, and Bridgestone became the sole supplier to F1 for the next 10 years, when Pirelli took over and still currently supply.

What has been covered here is Formula 1, Grand prix racing. There is a host of other categories of motor sports such as:- Touring car, which is standard production carsSports car, these are production standard tourers more commonly known as sports cars.Stock car racing, Rally racing, off road and drag racing.

Extra Information

Follow our Blog for all updated comments and interesting facts on all Sports Worldwide.