The worlds first motor race was held on 22nd July 1894 from Paris to Rouen, a distance of 127 Km. It was organised by the Paris magazine ‘Le Petit Journal’ and was preceded by a qualifying race over 50Km to decide who could start in the main race. 69 entries were reduced to 25 in the main race. First across the line was Count Jules-Albert de Dion at an average speed of 19Km per hour, followed by two Peugeots and two Panhards. The De Dion car was later disqualified because it was steam driven and required a stoker, which was against the rules.
In 1895 the Paris, Bordeaux, Paris Trial was run, in what is generally recognised as the first real motor race with all the cars starting at the same time. The 1,178Km was completed in 48 hours and 47 minutes by Emile Levassar, nearly 6 hours faster than the runner-up. The first regular motor racing gambling venue was in Nice, where the first event was a ‘Speed Week’ in 1897, which included a number of different motor racing gambling events including hill climb and sprints. Chicago was the venue for the first motor race in the US, in 1895 over 87.48 Km.
In these early years, motor racing gambling was dominated by France, and the French Automobile Club (ACF ) staged several inter-city races with great success, until 1903 when Marcel Renault was killed during the Paris Madrid race. After 9 fatalities, the French Government banned motor racing on the open road.
The oldest motor racing track in the world was the Milwaukee Mile, where racing started in 1903. This track was originally a horse racing track. The first purpose built motor racing track was at Brooklands in Surrey, which was opened in 1907. It was an oval concrete track, 2.75 miles long with steep banking on the corners to enable fast cornering. Brooklands was also the site of the ‘Vickers ‘aircraft factory, so that in 1939 at the outbreak of WW2, the circuit was closed and because of damage during the war, it was never re-opened. A similar motor racing track was built in Indianapolis (the Indianapolis Speedway) in 1909.
The sports gambling part of motor racing has expanded rapidly since those early days when motor racing gambling had been confined to high speed road cars, and in the 1930’s a number of manufacturers started to produce cars built specifically for racing. Delarge, Auto Union, Mercedes Benz, Delahaye and Bugatti all produced streamlined cars with large engines and superchargers specifically for motor racing. At that time there was a maximum weight limit of 750 Kg, which led to the cars being constructed from Aluminium alloys, and in the case of Mercedes the paint being removed on the famous Silver Arrows.
By far the most important motor racing gambling events of the modern day are the Grand Prix races of the FIA Formula One World Championship. They are the highest class of single seater motor racing sanctioned by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile ( FIA ). A series of Grand Prix races are held throughout the world, mostly on purpose built circuits, but also on public roads which are closed for the race. Results in each race are awarded points which are used to determine the World Drivers Championship and the World Constructors Championship at the end of the season.
Formula One developed from the ‘European Grand Prix Motor Racing of the 1920’s and 30’s, but the World Drivers Championship was not instigated until 1947 with the first World Championship race at Silverstone in 1950. The Constructors Championship was started in 1958.
During the 1970’s, Bernie Ecclestone is credited with reorganising F1’s commercial rights and transforming the motor racing sport into the multi million dollar business it is today. He bought the Brabham team in 1971, and was elected President of the Formula One Constructors Association ( FOCA ) in 1978. He then persuaded the teams to negotiate as a single organisation, to gain a share of the commercial revenue. He achieved this in 1981 after a 2 year battle with the Federation Internationale du Sport Automobile ( FISA ). Formula One gambling motor racing became ever more technology led, and the cars quicker and quicker, but also more and more expensive. Since 1990, 28 teams have been forced to leave Formula One due to the costs. There are now new regulations in force to address this problem, which have resulted in new motor racing teams joining the circuit.
Currently each race has 24 drivers, who qualify for Grid positions in a ‘knock out ‘series of 3 qualifying sessions, with the slowest cars dropping out after each session. The final session determines grid positions 1 to 10. The quickest qualifier claims ‘Pole ‘position on the front row of the grid. On many of the Grand Prix Formula1 racing circuits, positions on the grid are of prime importance because there are very few opportunities for drivers to pass the car in front. The result of these races is often determined by the team tactics in terms of pit stops, and tyre selection. Reliability of the cars is of course a major influence on the result.
Each race is approximately 190 miles ( 305 Km ) long, with a designated number of laps depending on the length of the circuit. The exception is Monaco which is 160 miles long.
The race must be finished inside 2 hours, although this only comes into force if the race has been severely affected by bad weather. Points are awarded for drivers and constructors according to the results in each race, and the two Championships are decided on total points won over the season. The current points system is :-
First – 25, Second – 18, Third – 15, Fourth – 12, Fifth – 10, Sixth – 8, Seventh – 6, Eighth – 4,
Ninth – 2, and Tenth – 1.
There were nineteen Grand Prix races in the 2010 season, and this is expected to rise to twenty in 2011. Motor racing, particularly gambling on Formula One, is an ideal sport for the betting man. Television coverage of every race is massive, with an estimated 600 million people in over 200 countries watching each race. Even the qualifying sessions receive maximum coverage in many countries.