On this very same day, over a century ago, France organized the first modern Grand Prix on a public road circuit outside of Le Mans. The race is widely regarded as the first Grand Prix ever and France is credited for the origin of organized motor racing. The race was open for international competitors and was organised by the Automobile Club de France in Sarthe. The term Grand Prix meant “Great Prize” and it was referred to the prize money of 45,000 French francs (the equivalent of 13 kg gold) that was awarded to the winner of the race.
The race was held at a 106 km large circuit and on an anti-clockwise dirt road. The event started from the east of the small western French city of Le Mans. According to the rules, a vehicle should not weigh more than 1000kg, excluding lights, wings and upholstery. Sufficient gasoline was provided to the drivers for fuel consumption – 30 litres per 100km. The event took place between June 26 and 27 and a car had to run six laps on each day.
12 manufacturers participated in the event – nine of them were from France (Clément-Bayard, Hotchkiss, Gobron-Brillié, Darracq, Vulpes, Brasier, Panhard, Grégoire, Lorraine-Dietrich and Renault), two from Italy (FIAT and Itala) and one from Germany (Mercedes). The race was won by a 13-litre Renault AK it was led by a Hungarian driver Ferenc Szisz. Szisz changed his tyre 19 times in that race. However, it was not an uncommon occurrence in the competition. The second spot in the list was reserved by Albert Clément in his Clément-Bayard. Felice Nazzaro in the 16.2L FIAT finished at the third spot.
After the conclusion of the event, the winner Renault established itself as a leader in car manufacturing. Renault’s share rose from 1600 in 1906 to 3000 in 1907 and 4600 in 1908.