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26-06-1906

First French Grand Prix held in Le Mans

They Make Such a Fuss About It, But It Just Means ‘Big Prize’ Cars.

If there’s one thing we know about them, they can go quite fast. And in one direction. Unless they're in reverse. Then they go the other way. But the idea of actually racing cars against each other in some kind of Grand Prix format didn’t kick off until 1906 when the first ever French Grand Prix was held in Le Mans.

Organised by the Automobile Club de France (rough translation: French car club of France) it was designed to illustrate to people that cars were better than horses and much, much better than old-timey bicycles with that big wheel at the front.

Held over two days and involving over 700 miles of driving, the freshly tarred road surface around Le Mans soon deteriorated and destroyed a number of those new fangled ‘cars’ and unsighted many of the drivers who suffered from a condition known as ‘tarry windscreen’. Taking more than 12 hours to complete, the race was eventually won by Renault driver Ferenc Szisz. The Jenson Button of his day. Except that he won.