Top 10 Famous Car Races in History

famous car races in history

Monaco Grand Prix

In 1929, Anthony Noghes and the Automobile Club de Monaco organized the first race through the streets of Monte Carlo. The Circuit de Monaco layout was the same one which is in use today. In 1950, the event was included in the Formula One World Championship.

With respects to time, Monaco is the longest Formula One race and can go the full two-hour time limit if it is slowed down by inclement weather. Overtaking another car is almost impossible due to the limited amount of racing space. The low speeds do not require much fuel to be burned, as Mika Salo finished fifth in 1997 without having to perform one pit stop.

Ayrton Senna of Brazil won the race six times and did it consecutively from 1989 to 1993. In a total of ten starts, he was able to finish on the podium eight times. The record for fastest lap is held by Michael Schumacher.

Indianapolis 500

Known as the famed Brickyard, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been home to the Indy 500 since 1911. The idea for the race track came from Carl Fisher, a businessman who thought the racetrack would be an ideal location for auto manufacturers to test their vehicles. Of course, they would have to do this against other car manufacturers.

The first race at the speedway was in June 1909 before a capacity crowd of 15,000 spectators. There was also tragedy on that day, as there three deaths and many injuries. In 1909, the track was reopened, as several modifications were made to the racing surface to improve safety.

The first of the famed 500-mile races was held at the track on May 30, 1911, which kicked off the Memorial Day tradition. Two years later in 1913, the race was receiving international attention with cars from Italy, Germany, England, and France entering the race.

24 Hours of Le Mans

24 Hours of Le Mans

Running its inaugural race in 1923 near Arnage, France, the oldest and most famous endurance car race is the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The race has been run for every year since, except for the war years and in 1936 when there was a strike.

On May 26 and May 27, 1923, the very first 24 Hours of Le Mans was held on public roads in Le Mans and several villages in Sarthe, France. With the winner covering the greatest distance, the race was made to test the endurance of both the racer and the automobile over a 24 hour period.

Before World War II, the races were won by French, Italian and British drivers who were driving vehicles manufactured by Alfa Romeo, Bentley, and Bugatti.

Due to the significant damage inflicted by World War II, the 24 Hours of Le Mans race took ten years off to allow for the rebuilding of France.

After the decade-long break, one of the most famous car races resumed running in 1949 and interest in the event was on the rise. After the war, car manufacturers such as Aston Martin, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and Ferrari competed on a regular basis.

Bathurst 1000

First held in 1960, the Bathurst 1000 is a touring car race of 1,000 km in length. The location of the annual race is at Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia. The race track is the most well-known landmark in the tiny city of Bathurst.

As the raced increased in popularity, most major car manufacturers in the Australian market were participating by the mid-1960s. The race gave the manufacturers an outlet to showcase their vehicles and image. Peter Brock, who is nicknamed “King of the Mountain,” has won nine races at Bathurst, which are the most of any driver.

Daytona 500

The Daytona 500, a 500 mile long NASCAR Cup Series motor race, had its first race in 1959, which coincided with the opening of the speedway. Since 1982, it has been the first race of the season for the Cup series.

As the most important NASCAR race, the Daytona 500 has by far the largest purse prize. Since 1995, television ratings have been the highest of any auto race, surpassing the Indianapolis 500 in viewership.

The race consists of 200 laps on the 2.5 mile Daytona International Speedway. Once 300 miles have been completed, the race is considered official. Following the Southern 500, the Daytona 500 was the second 500-mile race by NASCAR.

Monte Carlo Rally

The Monte Carlo rally originally was conceived in the early 1900s but began to gain popularity during the early 1950s. At the time, the race had become one of Europe’s largest rallies, with the results counting towards the European Grand Tourism Championship. This would go on to become the World Rally Championship in 1973.

In the 1960s, professional racing companies would take an interest in the event. Up until this time, the event was not known for pure speed. The original idea of the race was for consistency and endurance, both mechanical and human.

See more: Rally cars in 2018

Isle of Man TT

The International Isle of Man TT Race, which was first run in 1907, is an annual motorcycle sporting event. The event uses a time trial format on public roads which are closed for the race. There is a one-week practice session which is followed up by one week of racing.

This race is known as one of the most motorsport events in the world. There was a boycott of the Isle of Man race by racers and manufacturers in the early 1970s due to the safety concerns of the Snaefell Mountain Course. The course is 37.73 miles long and was called ‘38 miles of terror’ by a Sports Illustrated writer.

24 Hours of Nurburgring

An event which has been taking place since 1970, the 24 Hours Nurburgring is a touring car and GT endurance race held annually in central Germany. The Nordschleife (north loop) is over 25 km long and includes the participation of over 200 automobiles and 700 drivers.

Since its inception, the event has been dominated by BMW and Porsche, with Ford, Audi, Chrysler and Mercedes also winning at times. As would be expected, the majority of the drivers who have won the race have been German.

Pikes Peak Hill Climb

Held in the state of Colorado, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is a famed automotive competition that is sometimes known as the Race to the Clouds. This is a yearly motorcycle and car hill climb to the peak for which the race is named. The length of the track is 12.4 miles, consisting of over 150 turns and climbs which average a grade of over 7%.

The race dates back to 1916 and currently allows many classes of cars, trucks, quads, and motorcycles to enter. From year to year, new classes are recognized and discarded. The race has about 130 racers who participate.

Dakar Rally

The Dakar Rally is an off-road endurance race which utilizes off-road vehicles. The event first ran in 1978 from Paris, France all the way to Dakar, Senegal.

However, for security reasons, since 2009, the races have been held in the South American continent. Both professionals and amateurs can enter, with the latter usually outnumbering the professionals four to one.

The distances of each stage of the race vary from very short to 800 to 900 kilometers for one day. The off-road terrain consists of mud, crossing dunes, rocks and many other landscapes. The first race of 10,000 kilometers in length was finished by 74 of the 182 vehicles which had started.

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