The dramas and movies that you see on television about car racing have always stemmed from a particular history. This history, unbeknownst to many originated somewhere in the late 1800s, right after the introduction of proper gasoline fueled vehicles. The contest was introduced by Monsieur Fossier, an editor based in Paris. Although the race was won by George Bouton, it wasn’t considered an actual victory, keeping in view that Bouton was the only racer who showed up with his one of a kind, Albert, the Comte de Dion.
As years progressed, many people continued to question the propriety that centered on car racing. Was it simply a onetime thing, or could it possibly go beyond the parameters of general sporting events of the time? Of course, as luck would have it, many people began investing on this project and in 1891, another event was organized. This event was essentially considered to be the world’s first ever motoring event, while in 1894, motorists were required to travel from Paris to Rouen. It was also noticed that this rally was much bigger than the last one and therefore, more motorists joined in to be a part of the race. As more than one hundred people aspired to win the coveted title of winner at the Competition for Horseless Carriages, as termed by a magazine in Paris, the city saw motorists from the world over and sixty nine people were then eventually shortlisted to be a part of the actual race.
Paris and her “Fast Paced” Citizens
Image Credit: Wikipedia
As time progressed, Albert Lemaitre and Doriot emerged to be the inherent winners of the race. However, it was then understood that motor racing had carved a niche for itself and it therefore had to be initiated every year. It was this incentive that brought the car manufacturers around to producing quality cars. However, it was not long before most of them expired into an abyss. Cars such as Renault survived the crash, but Delage and the makes and models were left behind in this perpetual race of competition. You must also understand that taking into consideration the immense level of competition, a lot of manufacturers backed out of the race. This was essentially because of the relatively newer times in Europe, economics backlashes and the inherent lack of investments in most parts of car manufacturing. However, despite all of this and more, it was eventually assumed that Paris would be the ultimate stop for all things considering auto racing and car mobiles.
Out of the types of auto racing which primarily exist and thrive on daring drivers and well trained professionals, the more important types include: formula racing, touring car racing, sports car racing, production car racing, one make racing, historical racing, kart racing, rallying, stock cart racing, drag racing and off road racing. All of these types are well celebrated throughout the world and are considered to be some of the most profound additions to the ever competitive sporting world.
However, this in no way means that the average person does not enjoy other categories such as mini spirit, monster truck, autocross, autograss, banger racing, board track racing, demolition derby, dirt speedway racing, dirt track racing, drifting as a motorsport, folkrace, ice racing, wheelstand competition, sprint car racing, solar car racing, Slalom, short track motor racing, road racing, rallycross, midget car racing and the ever so popular, legends car racing. These models also ensure that the love for car racing goes far and wide, beyond the already expansive parameters of hi-fi car manufacturing and years of training and fitness. You will notice that many of these sports promote self made individuals who essentially want to be able to reach a particular point in life with their own hard work, vigilance and panache for designing cars and displaying them on an acceptable platform.
Image Credit: Wikipedia
It was in the late 1920s that the Grand Prix was introduced where endurance racing was held to be the main premise of the entire event. Single seater cars were used to participate in this race the types of which included the Bugatti Type 35 and the pioneer of one seater car racing Alfa Romeo Tipo A Monoposto. Grand Prix then further introduced touring endurance races such as the likes of Tour de France and Targa Florio. However, it is also to be understood that the Second World War essentially put a stop to Grand Prix considering the toll that was taken on Europe. Most manufacturing companies had shut down, economics were at a bare minimum, exponentially brilliant drivers had fled and critics argued that Grand Prix had witnessed an early death. Nevertheless, in order to revive that very level of love for sports and cars, the World Sports Car Championship was introduced where several automobile manufacturers including Aston Martin, Ferrari and Jaguar provided top notch cars and helped train new drivers so as to invest in something that was then considered greater than Grand Prix itself. However, several accidents in the early and mid 1950s led to the inherent decision of a 3 liter engine capacity which would therefore ensure lesser accident occurrences, and a better organized system was introduced to monitor touring racers. By 1958, the championship had carved a niche for itself and that could not be erased until and unless there was a gross negligence on part of the management.
Sports car racing then spread out to different areas of the world, in the post war period and these areas included: Britain, Italy, France, Germany, the UK and the USA: all the areas which had previously been shaken by the atrocities of war. While in Europe, local hybrids were used to text sports cars and races, and the USA began to import cars from Italy. These races included the usage of MG and the Porsche simply because of their sleek and elegant style that set them a class apart from most of their competitors. However, a tough competitor once again was the Jaguar, considering how its engine capacity and specifications stand it apart from all the other cars as well. The gradual evolution of sports cars racing aided to different forms, models and collectors to come around and the sport of auto racing as we know it today could not have possibly existed in the recent times.
Image Credit: Jean-François Schmitz
However, most establishments in history do not occur without the inherent element of failure and the very start of car racing saw its fair share of turbulent failures and at most times, deaths. The most atrocious and horrifying car accidents took their incidence during car racing events in historical times. Times like such started from 1903 in the race that led from Paris to Madrid where no one made it to Madrid due to the numerous car accidents that had taken place in Bordeaux. It is also to be understood that most cars turned to dust simply because of obvious lack of regulations and the fact that cars barely went above 70 MPH and it would be a disaster to overwork them beyond their designated limit. By 1906, a new race by the name of Targa Florio was established by a Sicilian individual. Cars were not anymore safer than the ones that were produced in 1903 and therefore, when a number of cars burnt to ashes, taking with them several well acclaimed drivers, it was found that racing through rural Sicily could in no way be catered to by a contemporary car. However, by the end of all this, the 277 mile race replete with the cold weather, on unattended and horrifying roads ended in failure considering the damage it had caused to so many lives. Yet, the race continued despite its failure in 1922 and while it ended in success, it also saw people such as Henry Segrave being stranded on a hill due to lack of directions, road system or car facilities.
The Peking to Paris in 1907 saw another trail of horrifying deaths as five teams went onto a race amongst themselves to reach Paris on cars that were neither properly tested, and on roads which were considered non-existent. Rather, the entire concept of car racing and driving safely was not correlated and the whole element of danger played a massive role. It was at that point that most of their cars broke down in the Gobi desert and drivers were eventually rescued by hikers while others had simply fled.
Image Credit: Maciek
The last accident that took place in a recorded car racing competition was in 1908 and was called the New York to Paris. Imagine, by the very context of the name, the race was expected to be won in poorly manufactured cars with drivers who had little or no knowledge about the essential dynamics of racing. Nevertheless, the more appeasing part was the fact that the six teams competing, each had a journalist with them who could report their whereabouts and progress to local newspapers. Although, the immense snow and turbulent weather forced some teams to give up on race, yet some continued to take on the tumultuous path to head towards China and then to Siberia. The Germany and American teams took 169 and 173 days respectively to get to Paris, and these were the only two teams who achieved the victory.
Such accidents did not take place till the Carrera Panamericana in 1950, where the Mexican government, in order to celebrate its completion of a 2100 mile road, held a five day car racing competition for drivers to race through the length of the road. Due to the lack of organization, car racing was not limited to proper sports cars which could compete at a NASCAR level. So, this extended to people using their own home vehicles and taxis to drive in the range that their cars could not possibly compete with. The rules of the competition were more or less ruthless and despite the altitude they had to cover, the racers were reckless and cruel. They would ensure any method that could help them get across to the winning point. This resulted in several deaths and multiple psychological and physical scars and injuries accosted towards racers. The government was also negligent enough to disqualify anyone who would stop to help someone in need and therefore, this particular racing tournament found its death right in the midst of the road.
Shocked as you may be, the AVUS Grand Prix of 1937 also introduced some horrific incidents to the car racing accidents bandwagon. This was also the first car racing tournament that had a proper racing track laid out so as to ensure the average driver’s safety. However, this was not the case considering the bank curve that was a part of the entire structure it actually produced more deaths than it saved lives. Drivers, while racing to win, also had to maintain their balance because in the event that they failed to do so, they would surely meet their death. There was no safety railing and thereby, most drivers could either just win or end up with injuries and disqualifications. The Grand Prix organizers then further introduced high speed vehicles into the race.
Image Credit: MJRoberts55
It was only after that particular incident that more attention was paid to racing tracks drivers’ safety and moderated car racing events were to be regulated by organizers under contract. They further introduced flags so as to promote signaling, ensuring that drivers know where they had to go and which areas were dangerous for them to lurk in. However, despite the general history of car racing, many people revolutionized the system to the point where it evolved itself into a sport that is loved and will be loved by many for years to come.
Jul 16, 2013 1
Oct 25, 2013 1