On This Day

Historical Motor Races

Motor Races: Indianapolis 500 - Le Mans

Events in Sport

World's First Motor Race

1887-04-20 Georges Bouton wins the world’s 1st motor race on a steam-powered quadricycle, a 'test' organised by French newspaper Le Velocipede

  • 1895-06-13 Emile Levassor wins the first automobile race in history the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris, taking 48 hours and 48 minutes (1,178 km)
  • 1895-11-02 First organised auto race in the United States is run in Chicago; 6 cars race over 52-mile lakefront course; 2 finish because of blizzard conditions

1st Car Race in America

1895-11-28 America's 1st auto race organised by the "Chicago Times-Herald" - Chicago to Evanston and back; 6 cars, 55 miles, Frank Duryea wins averaging 7 MPH

  • 1896-09-07 A. H. Whiting wins the 1st automobile race held on a closed-circuit track in Cranston, Rhode Island
  • 1904-10-08 Vanderbilt Cup, first major trophy in American auto racing is conducted on public roads in Nassau County area of Long Island, NY; inaugural winner, American driver George Heath in a Panhard
  • 1908-02-12 NY to Paris auto race (via Alaska & Siberia) begins in NYC George Schuster wins after 88 days behind the wheel
  • 1908-07-30 Around the World Automobile Race ends in Paris
  • 1909-08-19 Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of automobile race Indianapolis 500, opens in Speedway, Indiana
  • 1911-05-30 1st Indianapolis 500: Ray Harroun driving a Marmon Wasp for Nordyke & Marmon Company comes out of retirement, wins inaugural event; average speed: 74.602 mph (120.060 km/h)

Sports History

1914-02-07 Charlie Chaplin debuts silent film character The Tramp in "Kid Auto Races at Venice"

  • 1915-08-07 Dario Resta, driving a Peugeot, wins the first Champ Car race ever to average over 100mph at a 100-mile race in Chicago; average speed 101.8mph
  • 1930-05-30 Indianapolis 500: Polesitter Billy Arnold takes lead on lap 3 and never gives it up; total 198 laps stands as all-time Indy 500 race record; accompanied by riding mechanic Spider Matlock
  • 1936-03-08 The first stock car race is held in Daytona Beach, Florida.
  • 1950-09-04 NASCAR’s first paved super speedway, Darlington Raceway hosts Southern 500, first 500-mile event in NASCAR history; winner Johnny Mantz in a Plymouth
  • 1959-02-22 Inaugural Daytona 500: Lee Petty and Johnny Beauchamp cross finish line side by side; Beauchamp declared unofficial winner; ruling overturned after 3 days by NASCAR founder Bill France Sr

Sports History

1966-05-30 Indianapolis 500: English 1962 F1 World Champion Graham Hill wins after leading for a total of only 10 laps; first rookie winner since 1927

  • 1967-07-01 Bobby Unser wins both races at Mosport, Ontario, Canada, the first Champ Car races ever run outside the United States
  • 1972-09-03 Jerry Grant runs the first official 200mph qualifying lap in Champ Car history, posting a lap of 201.414mph around Ontario Motor Speedway
  • 1987-08-02 Michael Andretti runs fastest Indy car race in history (171.49mph) in winning the Marlboro 500 at the Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Michigan

Sports History

1987-09-20 French driver Alain Prost wins Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril; his record 28th Formula 1 victory

  • 1997-03-02 Michael Andretti wins at Homestead in a Swift chassis, marking the first Champ Car victory in an American-built chassis since 1983; first-ever Champ Car start for the Swift
  • 2003-07-05 French driver Sébastien Bourdais wins first-ever night road-course event in Champ Car history on Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport layout
  • 2006-08-03 Brazilian Champ Car driver Cristiano da Matta crashes into a deer during testing at Road America, Wisconsin; seriously injured but returns to racing in 2008
  • 2008-04-20 Danica Patrick driving for Andretti Green Racing wins the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi; first female driver in history to win an IndyCar Series race

Birthdays in Sport

Joe Gibbs

1940-11-25 Joe Gibbs, American Pro Football HOF coach (Super Bowl 1982, 87, 91 Washington Redskins; NFL Coach of the Year 1982, 83) and auto race team owner (5 × NASCAR Cup Series), born in Mocksville, North Carolina

Weddings in Sport

  • 2006-05-06 Race car driver "Champ Car World Series" two time winner Sebastien Bourdais (27) weds Claire Bagot at Cathedral Saint-Julien in Le Mans, France

Deaths in Sport

  • 1959-08-01 Jean Behra, French Formula One driver, dies in a car race at 38
  • 1971-07-11 Pedro Rodríguez, Mexican racing driver (Le Mans, 1968), killed in crash during sports car race at Norisring in Nuremberg, West Germany at 31
  • 1989-08-13 Tim Richmond, American race car driver (won 13 NASCAR races), dies of AIDS at 34
  • 2009-06-09 Dick May, Former NASCAR racecar driver
  • 2022-01-04 Kevin Kalkhoven, Australian auto racing team owner (KV Racing Technology, Indy 500 2013), co-owner Champ Car World Series, investor Cosworth Group Holdings Ltd, dies at 77

Famous Racing Car Drivers