Thursday 24th September 1896
Thirty-two entrants started the 1,060-mile Paris-Marseille-Paris race. The competition was the first to be divided into stages, ten in all. During the pauses the machines were put into parcs fermés (secured parking areas), supervised by the police. Only 13 vehicles arrived in Marseille ten days later and the drivers had undergone every kind of adventure, including Léon Bollée running off the road and hitting a tree. Émile Levassor’s partially eponymous Panhard et Levassor skidded and turned over in a ditch. Levassor was injured, but his co-driver, Charles d’Hostingue, continued after leaving Levassor in the care of some spectators. Levassor never recovered from the injury and died in Paris the following year. Another Panhard et Levassor, driven by Émile Mayade, won the race in 67 hours 43 minutes, at an average speed of just over 15 mph.