Did you know that the first motor car race took place in 1895? The race course was a round-trip between Paris and Bordeax in France, for a total distance of 1,178 km. The fastest car in the race was driven by Emile Levassor, he finished the race in 48 hours. The same trip today might take about 14 hours. Levassor’s car showcased many new designs such as manual transmission so the car could run at different speeds, and the engine being mounted in front of the driver instead of under or behind the driver.
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There were 46 entries for the race. Technically Paul Koechlin won the race with a race time of 59 hours. Emile Levassor, who finished the race 11 hours before Koechlin, did not technically win the race because he was driving a two-seat car, when the race was designed for a four-seat car.
Emile Levassor and his partner Rene Panhard managed a large machine shop in Paris. They had just designed and manufactured a new high-speed engine, which was on display in 1889. The new engine configuration (in front of the driver instead of behind or under) and the manual transmission with a clutch became known as the System Panhard and became the main model for all automobiles.
The race was planned and spearheaded by journalists, automotive builders, and bicycle makers to capture and support public enthusiasm for automobiles.