Car racing is a global phenomenon with races being held around the world at a series of historic race tracks.
Automobile racing began soon after the invention of the gasoline- (petrol-) fueled internal-combustion engine in the 1880s. The first organized automobile competition, a reliability test in 1894 from Paris to Rouen, France, a distance of about 80 km (50 mi), was won with an average speed of 16.4 kph (10.2 mph). In 1895 the first true race was held, from Paris to Bordeaux, France, and back, a distance of 1,178 km. The winner made an average speed of 24.15 kph. Organized automobile racing began in the United States with an 87-km race from Chicago to Evanston, Illinois, and back on Thanksgiving Day in 1895.
After the first Grand Prix race in France in 1906 and the first Indianapolis 500 race in 1911, automobile racing was essentially different in Europe and in North America until in the 1950s Grand Prix racing was organized worldwide.
After the first French Grand Prix race of 1906 at Le Mans, a frequent early venue and also the site of 24 Hours of Le Mans, run from 1923, the race was run in 1907 and 1908 and then not again until 1912. The first Italian Grand Prix was run in 1908. When racing resumed after World War I, the French and Italian Grand Prix were held in 1921. The Belgian Grand Prix began in 1925, the German in 1926, and that at Monaco in 1929.
Racing over specified routes, the driver being kept on course by a navigator between checkpoints, began in 1907 with a Peking-to-Paris race of about 12,000 km. The Monte-Carlo Rally from various starting points began in 1911 and continued thereafter except for wartime interruptions. Rallies became very popular after World War II in Europe and elsewhere with European and international championships being instituted by the FIA. Weekend rallies came to be common worldwide, ranging from those held by local auto clubs to those sponsored by larger organizations.
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