Paris–Rouen: the world’s first motor-race
Georges Lemaître classified 1st in his Peugeot 3hpOn July 22, 1894, the Parisian magazine Le Petit Journal organized what is considered to be the world’s first car race from Paris to Rouen. Sporting events were a tried and tested form of publicity stunt and circulation booster. Pierre Giffard, the paper’s editor, promoted it as a Competition for Horseless Carriages (Concours des Voitures sans Chevaux) that were not dangerous, easy to drive, and cheap during the journey. Thus it blurred the distinctions between a reliability trial, a general event and a race, but the main prize was for the first across the finish line in Rouen. 102 people paid the 10 franc entrance fee.
69 cars started the 50 km (31 mi) selection event that would show which entrants would be allowed to start the main event, the 127 km (79 mi) race from Paris to Rouen. The entrants ranged from serious manufacturers like Peugeot, Panhard or De Dion to amateur owners, and only 25 were selected for the main race.