September 2, 2010
The Roots of Racing
On July 22, 1894, the Le Petit Journal organised what is considered to be the world’s first car race 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 Horeseless Carriages (Concours des Voitures sans Chevaux) that were not dangerous, easy to drive, and cheap during the journey. 102 people paid the 10 franc entrance fee.
69 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, Panhardor De Dion to amateur owners, and only 25 were selected for the main race. Count Jules-Albert de Dion was first into Rouen after 6 hours and 48 minutes at an average speed of 19 km/h.
The first auto race in the United States took place in Chicago, Illinois on November 28, 1895. 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 three petrol-fueled motorcars.
The Milwaukee Mile is the oldest motor racing track in the world, with racing being held there since 1903. It was not, however, purpose built for motor racing, starting life as a one-mile (1.6 km) horse racing track in the 19th Century.
Art Ingels is generally accepted to be the father of karting. A veteran hot rodder and a race car builder at Kurtis Kraft, he built the first kart in Southern California in 1956.
The first kart manufacturer was an American company, Go Kart Manufacturing Co. (1958). McCulloch was the first company, in 1959, to produce engines for karts. Its first engine, the McCulloch MC-10, was an adapted chainsaw 2-stroke engine. Later, in the 1960s, motorcycle engines were also adapted for kart use.