A Slow Race

By | Nov 28, 2012

The race had already been delayed, it was originally scheduled for November 2nd, and was rescheduled to be run on Thanksgiving day, November 28th. Of the 83 cars that had agreed to run the race only 6 made it to the starting line. Of these 6, two were powered by electric, the other four were gasoline powered.

The year was 1895 and it was the beginning of the automobile age. This was the first automobile race. On June 9th the Chicago Time-Herald, in an effort to boost the automobile industry as well as sell newspapers, announced the race. It was to be a race between Chicago and Milwaukee, but in the end conditions of the roads forced it to be a race to Evanston and back. A distance of 54 miles.

The idea was so new the paper didn’t really know what to term the race. In July they decided to term it as a Moto Cycle, beating out other terms such as Horseless Carriage, Vehicle Motor, Automobile, and Automobile Carriage.

The race started just a bit before 9 in the morning and a little over 10 hours later, Frank Duryea was the first to cross the finish line having survived a journey punctured by numerous breakdowns and repairs. He had averaged 7.3 miles per hour and took home the first place prize.

Only one other vehicle managed to finish the race. This was a car made by the German Auto Maker Karl Benz. In fact three of the automobiles in the race were made by Benz.

The Duryea brothers, Charles and Frank, created their first gasoline-powered “horseless-carriage” in 1893. This also was the first built in the United States. It was fitting that an American Car and its maker was the first to win the first, although slow, automobile race.


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