It didn’t take mankind long after the invention of fuel-powered internal combustion engines to start organizing the first car race. They wanted to see which car was the fastest, and the racers wanted to grab the bragging rights of being the fastest racer.
The history books say that the first official car race was organized all the way back in 1894. It was an 80 km reliability race that took place on the road between Paris and Rouen. The winner managed to finish the race with an average speed of 16.4 km/h. This was a monumental achievement seeing how the first fuel-powered engines were only invented in the 1880s.
The first official car race in America was organized only a year later. The 87-km race started in Chicago, went to Evanston, and back to Chicago. Similar town-to-town races became the norm in both the US and Europe.
By 1900, car racers were able to push their cars all the way up to 80 km/h, which were amazing speeds for the time. This meant that road racers became too dangerous for the spectators, racers, and livestock that often got lost on the road.
That’s when men started building speedways purposely made for automobile racing. The first of the kind was built in 1906 at Brooklands in Surrey, England. The track had a 4.45 km loop. The most notable circuit tracks built outside of England included Monza in 1922 and Montlhery outside of Paris in 1924.
Pista di Monza is one of the most iconic racetracks of the world. Any true race aficionado has a special place in its heart for this track. It hosted Formula 1 races, FIA World Endurance Championships, Le Mans Series, Various motorcycle races and so on. It’s the racetrack Italians are proud to have.
This is the track that inspired our Pista watch collection. The Pista wristwatches make you feel like you’re speeding through the finish line of the Pista di Monza racetrack. Checkout the collection and pick the watch that best fits your style.
The Birth of International Racing
James Gordon Bennet was the owner of The New York Herald. He’s considered to be the father of international racing. He sponsored a trophy to be competed for by national automobile clubs. The races were held in France, Ireland, and Germany. The French car manufacturers weren’t happy with the rules of the competition, so they decide to start their own racing series - French Grand Prix, which was held at Le mans.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the most prominent endurance race in the automotive world. It is held every year at the Circuit de la Sarthe and is composed of closed public roads and sections of a racing track. It was first organized between the 26th and 27th of May in 1923.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is one of the three events included in the Triple Crown of Motorsport. The other two events are Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix.
The race was designed as the alternative to then-popular Grand Prix motor racing. The focus of the race wasn’t to build the fastest machines, rather the ability of car manufacturers to build sporty cars that were super reliable. This resulted in car companies producing fuel-efficient cars with great aerodynamics.
The race is held in June, which results in very hot conditions. Teams often cover well over 5,000 km in the span of 24 hours.
The early races in the 20s and 30s were dominated by French, British, and Italian drivers. The golden age of Le Mans was the 70s and the 80s. That’s when Porsche racing cars started dominating the race. The Porsche 917, 935, and 936 were dominant race car models that grew into racing icons as we know them today.
The first race that carried the name Grand Prix was organized in 1996 in Le Mans. The first race saw 32 entries from 12 different automobile manufacturers. The winner of the race was Ferenc Szisz, a Hungarian racing in a Renault race car.
Other races of the time started claiming the right to be know as the first Grand Prix, so the first race was later renamed to IX Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France.
The real development started after World War 2 when the Federation Internationale de l’Autiomobile (FIA) was established in Paris. This meant the birth of what we now know as Formula 1. The Formula 1 races started in 1947.
In 1950, several national Formula 1 Grand Prix were linked to create the World Championship for drivers. The first World Championship race was held in 1950 at Silverstone, UK. The Italians were dominating the first years in their Alfa Romeo and Ferrari race cars.
The Grand Prix remains one of the most popular racing series in the world. It’s hard to pick the golden age of Formula 1 racing. Over the years, we had the privilege of watching incredible men in amazing cars. From Jim Clark in Lotus 49 Ford to Niki Lauda in Ferrari, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, all the way to Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
Porsche Race Cars
Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Renault, Ford, and other car manufacturers always competed to create the best racing car in the world. But none of them could match the speed of Porsche race cars. While not always the first, Porsche always knew how to create cars that get noticed.
It all started with Porsche 917 in the now-iconic Porsche Gulf Team that helped Porsche secure the first overall victors at Le mans in 1970, which they repeated in 1971. The Porsche 917 is still synonymous with speed and performance in the car racing world.
The Porsche 917 Gulf inspired some of the designs in our Distinct 3 collection that pays homage to the classic Le Mans races. You can get a vintage racing style wristwatch that shows you’re a true race fan.
British Racing Green
Another iconic racing car is the British racing green. The colour first appeared in the 1903 Gordon Bennet Cup help in Ireland. As a respect for organizers, the British racing cars were painted in shamrock green.
The dark yellowish green came into prominence with successful British racers in the 1920s. From initial Bentley racing cars to sleek Jaguars in the 1960s and the Formula 1 Lotus team. British racing green is one of the most famous colours in the racing world.
As with the iconic racing cars, we wanted to highlight the history of racing by using the British racing green in one of our Distinct 3 models. You can own a watch that shows your appreciation for the car racing pioneers.
We can’t all be car racers. But we can feel like one. You can transform yourself into an iconic 1970 Le Mans race with the right wristwatch on your hand. We suggest you check our Pista and Distinct 3 series watches that we made exclusively for vintage car racing fans.