French Grand Prix 1906 - Szisz!!!

This is the story of not just the first French Grand Prix, but the first auto racing Grand Prix. In a controversial move, the French pulled back from the previously recognized greatest road race in the world, the James Gordon Bennett Cup. They resented the rules of the Bennett Cup that only allowed three representatives from each car producing nation to participate. At the time, France was the preeminent automobile producing company in the word, with marks such as Panhard, Darracq, Mors, De Dietrich, Renault, Hotchkiss, Peugeot and several others. All were quality manufacturers, while other countries such Germany (Mercedes) and Italy (Fiat) were represented by a single brand each.
France's automotive industry did not feel the restrictive Bennett Cup rules afforded them the opportunity they deserved to showcase their products and announced the French Grand Prix for 1906. Held over two days, the Grand Prix was more an endurance test than what we think of as grand prix racing today. Ran June 26 and 27, the weather was brutally hot and the tar coated course emitted toxic chemicals that burnt drivers' eyes. In the end a 200 to 1 shot named Ferenc Szisz prevailed.  This article originally appeared in the 2006 USGP program.

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