MOTOR RACING. The first motor car competition of any kind, which was not actually a race, though it had some of the characteristics of one, consisted of a trial from Paris to Rouen and back in 1894. Though only 26 cars competed, the fact that 102 were entered says much for the enthusiasm of the moment. The first prize was divided equally between a Panhard and a Peugeot car. It was of ter this that racing really began as a serious business. The route generally lay between two big towns along the ordinary highways, a limited number of police afforded meagre protection, dust-laying compound was not used and other traffic was sometimes allowed to stray on the road in the path of the cars. From the driver's point of view this increased the difficulties. It was impossible to practise over the roads and obtain full knowledge of the curves and corners. To pass another car, it was first essential to drive through a blinding dust-cloud, and there was always the possibility of a number of people being in the road round any curve. Moreover, each driver fought alone for his own car ; there was no team organization, no organized national rivalry. Of such character were the Paris-Bordeaux, Paris-Berlin and Paris-Vienna races.
This race, for a trophy presented by James Gordon Bennett, was a different affair. In this a team of three cars represented their country, and it was country against country, not car against car. Also, every part of each machine down to the smallest detail had to be manufactured in the country which it represented. The first two Gordon Bennett races were run as part of other longer competitions. Before the third could be staged a disaster changed the whole organization of racing. The Paris-Madrid, in 1903, was run in the old way over badly guarded main roads in the presence of enormous crowds with cars, which had ceased to be stripped and specially prepared touring cars, and had become very fast racing machines. The terrible series of accidents which occurred because the crowd invaded the road made the French Government stop the race at Bordeaux, and from that time onwards races have been run on a triangular circuit, palisaded on all sides, closely guarded by police and troops, and with a specially prepared road surface. The third Gordon Bennett race in Ireland was the first of this type. In the earlier races, also, big towns were neutralized, the cars going through slowly and resuming racing on the further side, a method adopted in Ireland for the last time.
In 1906 there was another great change. The enormous number of manufacturers engaged in the trade in France resulted in a protest against the Gordon Bennett, as France could only be represented at the most by three types of car. Ac
cordingly, the Grand Prix was organized from 1906 to 1908 ; in that race the various makes of cars competed against each other, though the national rivalry was maintained ; all the cars from one country had to be the same colour, namely, British, green; French, blue ; German, white ; and Italian, red. These races were extra ordinarily popular and were hard-fought battles. In 1909, 1910 and 1911 there was no race, while 1914 put an end to the next series, the last race being notable because the Mercedes firm intro duced an efficient system of team control, involving both strategy and tactics.
Af ter the World War Grand Prix racing was resumed in 1921, but it was shorn of much of its former glory, the number of cars entered being greatly reduced, and the last really great race of the series occurred in 1924. Thereafter, the number of competing teams dwindled and practically every year one particular team had such a superiority that the others were in a hopeless position. This led to a resumption of the original type of racing, a 24 hours' race being organized first at Le Mans in 1923, in which the cars had to carry full equipment, namely, lamps, screen, hood and bodies of touring type. This race, which proved a great success, was followed in 1927 by a six hours' race of the same character on the Brooklands track in England. In 1928 the R.A.C. revived the Tourist Trophy Race for fully-equipped sports cars by organizing an event on the Ards circuit, near Belfast ; this resulted in a magnificent contest between a great number of different sizes of cars, in which Kaye Don won with a Lea-Francis at 64.06 m.p.h.
Races to establish records are always run under the same rules. The cars are stripped racing machines built for speed only, and the results are in two categories, the first termed "world's" records, in which the size of engine does not matter, and the second called international class records, in which the cars are grouped according to the size of engine. Records in one class have nothing to do with records in the other.
In America a car with an engine capacity of 911 cu.in. under American rules has averaged in the same manner 164 m.p.h., and, to give another example of the speed attained by these small cars, which are about the equivalent of the 12 h.p. car of everyday use, the hour in the European class for engines of similar size stands at 115.56 m.p.h. Appended are the results of some of the more important races:— Automobile racing, speed trials and record attempts in the United States are governed by the Contest Board of the American Automobile Association. The American Automobile Association is