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First US Auto Race Propels Automobile Industry

First US Auto Race Propels Automobile Industry

First US automobile race held Thanksgiving Day, November 28th 1895 jump started the auto industry

Author: FleetLogik/Monday, November 28, 2016/Categories: Featured, FastFacts

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The Automobile Industry was Born on this day, November 28, 1895. 

The first recorded US automobile race was held- not in Indy or Daytona or even Detroit but rather Chicago IL.  The 50 mile Thanksgiving Day race was sponsored by the Chicago Times-Herald and was intended to raise publicity for the newspaper and awareness for the embryonic American car industry. Historians generally agree the little known event advanced the auto industry by five years and positioned the Duryeas as the early industry leader, selling 13 of their Motor Wagons that year.  From that day on, automobile manufacturing was a business. 

The race course was originally supposed to loop from Chicago to Waukegan, Illinois, but was reduced to just 50 miles when only 6 of the original 89 entrants arrived at the starting line.  The racers drove from Chicago to Evanston, Illinois, and back again. The rules were simple- vehicles had to have at least three wheels, all wrapped in rope to give traction in the snow, and they also had to be able to carry at least two people, the driver and a race-appointed umpire who would ride along.

Besides the Duryea there were three Benz cars, one sponsored by Macy’s in New York; and two electrics whose batteries died almost immediately after the race began.   

About 10 hours after the race began, the Duryea crossed the finish line after making a 55 minute steering repair at a local blacksmith shop. The race leader averaged an astounding 7.5 MPH in near blizzard conditions.  The Mueller Benz was the only other machine to finish, but was driven across the line about two hours later by the umpire due to Mr. Mueller having collapsed from fatigue.  

Never underestimate the importance of what you are doing today and the impact it can have on tomorrow.


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