Sunday 29th June 1902
Marcel Renault won the four-day Paris-to-Vienna race, driving a car of his own design. The early city-to-city races were the largest sporting events of that era. Some three million people turned out to cheer Renault on to victory during the 15-hour, 615-mile race. These races were discontinued in large part due to Renault’s fatal accident the following year at the Paris-Madrid race. The French government halted the race in Bordeaux following the tragic accident. Millions of people lined the raceways during the first years of car racing, and dozens were killed each year. Race organizers were unable to keep up with the rapid advancement of engine technology that propelled the racers at higher and higher speeds each year. Road racing in Europe was banned in most places after 1904. It would take years to erase the damage to motor racing’s reputation that was incurred in those first few gladiatorial years.