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Monument à Levassor 1907.jpg
VenueRoad from Paris to Bordeaux
(and return)
First race11 June 1895 (unique race)
30 entrants
21 qualified
12 Stopped
Distance1,178 kilometres (732 mi)

The Paris–Bordeaux–Paris Trail race of June 1895 is sometimes called the "first motor race", although it did not fit modern competition where the fastest is the winner. It was a win for Émile Levassor, who came first after completing the 1,178km race in 48 hours, almost six hours before second place. However, the official winner was Paul Koechlin, who finished third in his Peugeot, exactly 11 hours slower than Levassor, but the official race regulations had been established for four-seater cars, while Levassor and runner-up Louis Rigoulot were driving two-seater cars.[1][2][3]

First race[edit]

Paris–Bordeaux–Paris is sometimes called the first motorcar race in history or the "first motor race". The 1894 Paris–Rouen had been run over public roads as a contest (concours) not a race, and the fastest finisher, a steam-powered vehicle, was judged ineligible for the main prize. Émile Levassor finished first in the 1,178 km Paris–Bordeaux–Paris race, taking 48 hours and 48 minutes, nearly six hours before the runner-up Louis Rigoulot, and eleven hours before the official winner, Paul Koechlin in his Peugeot. Officially, the race was for four-seater cars, and Levassor and Rigoulot drove two-seater cars. The ensuing outcry caused the A.C.F. to organise their next event, the 1896 Paris–Marseille–Paris, so that the fastest finisher was the winner.[1][2][3]


The race is sometimes referred to as the I Grand Prix de l'A.C.F. This results from a retrospective political move that began in the early 1920s when French media represented many races held in France before the 1906 French Grand Prix as being Grands Prix de l'Automobile Club de France, despite their running pre-dating the formation of the Club. Hence, the 1906 race was said to have been the 9th edition of the Grand Prix de l'Automobile Club de France. The ACF itself adopted this reasoning in 1933, although some members of the Club dismissed it, "concerned the name of the Club was lent to the fiction simply out of a childish desire to establish their Grand Prix as the oldest race in the world".[4][5]

Levassor's progress[edit]

Levassor, who drove one of his cars, a 1205 cc (74 ci) Panhard & Levassor, started carefully, observing his opponents; he overtook the then leading Marquis de Dion who stopped to take on water for his steam car. Levassor led the race since then, stopping regularly to check his car's components. He came to Bordeaux several hours before any driver was expected to come which resulted in the fact that he had to drive back to Paris as well (the driver who was his change was still asleep in a hotel, and no one knew which one). Levassor accepted the situation calmly, waking the organisers up to prove his coming and his time, had some sandwiches and champagne, took a brief walk and set off for Paris at 2:30 am. When Baron René de Knyff met him en-route, he was so surprised by Levassor's time that he nearly crashed. Levassor, after spending two days and nights behind the wheel, triumphantly reached Paris, achieving an average speed of 24.5 km/h. He said after the race: "Some 50 km before Paris I had a rather luxurious snack in a restaurant which helped me. But I feel a little tired."[citation needed]


The race proved that both the drivers and the cars were capable of such distances and it generated public enthusiasm which indicated that such events were commercially viable.[citation needed]



The overall results were:[3]

Pos No. Driver Car Time Notes
1 5 Émile Levassor Panhard & Levassor 48:48:00 24.54 km/h
Ineligible for First prize – 2 seater
2 15 Louis Rigoulot Peugeot 54:35:00 Ineligible for First prize – 2 seater
3 16 Paul Koechlin Peugeot 59:48:00 Named as the winner, received the main prize.
4 8 Auguste Doriot Peugeot 59:49:00
5 12 Hans Thum Benz / Roger 64:30:00
6 7 Émile Mayade Panhard & Levassor 72:14:00
7 28 Rene de Knyff Panhard & Levassor 78:07:00
8 13 Émile Roger Roger 82:48:00
9 24 Amédée Bollée Bollée 90:03:00

Did not finish[edit]

Entrants who did not finish:[3]

Driver No. Car Notes
André Michelin 46 L'Éclair Orléans (B)/Tyre Trouble – Finished outside time limit.
Léon Serpollet 20 Gardner-Serpollet Poitiers (B)/Broken Crank Shaft
Paul Thaillier 37 Vincke et Delmer Angouleme
Hildebrand Wolfmuller Angouleme
Charles Prévost 6 Panhard & Levassor Angouleme/Broken Wheel-Disqualified
Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat 3 De Dion-Bouton Vouvray/Broken Shaft
Charles Jeanteaud 25 Jeanteaud Orléans/Axle Trouble
Millet 42 Millet Orléans
Gardner-Serpollet Versailles
P. Gautier 18 Gautier-Wehrlé (Poss. Pierre or Charles Gautier)
26 Rossel
Unknown 43 Gautier-Wehrlé (Poss. Pierre or Charles Gautier)


Entrants in order of departure:

No. Driver Car Notes
1 15 Louis Rigoulot Peugeot petrol
2 3 Comte de Chasseloup Laubat De Dion-Bouton steam
3 8 Auguste Doriot Peugeot petrol
4 35 Vacheron petrol – Did not finish
5 12 Hans Thum Benz – Roger petrol
6 5 Émile Levassor Panhard et Levassor petrol
7 19 Lebrun et Duval petrol – Did not finish
8 24 Amédée Bollée Bollée steam
9 27 Bogard electric – Did not finish
10 32 Lepape petrol – Did not finish
11 16 A. Koechlin Panhard et Levassor petrol
12 6 Prévost Peugeot petrol
13 22 Compagnie des moteurs légers petrol – Did not finish
14 10 Decauville steam – Did not finish
15 20 Leon Serpollet Serpollet steam
16 21 Serpollet steam
17 43 Gautier–Wehrlé steam
18 18 P. Gautier Gautier (motorcar) petrol
19 7 Émile Mayade Panhard et Levassor petrol
20 13 Émile Roger Roger petrol
21 46 André Michelin L'Éclair of Michelin petrol – Did not finish
22 25 Charles Jeanteaud Jeantaud electric
23 1 Jules-Albert de Dion De Dion-Bouton 20 HP steam
24 37 Fréderic (Paul Thaillier) Vincke petrol
25 28 Panhard et Levassor petrol
26 40 Delannoy petrol – Did not finish
27 14 Ducan et Suberbie steam – Cycle
28 37 Millet petrol – Cycle – Did not finish
29 28 Boulanger Briest petrol – Cycle – Did not finish
30 42 Marc Létang steam – Cycle

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Anthony Harding (1977). Car facts & feats (2nd ed.). Sterling Pub. Co. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-8069-0108-4.
  2. ^ a b "Ces merveilleux fous roulants sur leurs drôles de machines". Le Figaro (in French). 9 July 2007. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d TeamDan Early results database – 1895
  4. ^ Hodges (1967), pp. 2–3
  5. ^ 1895 Grand Prix and Paris Races. Retrieved on 12 September 2009.

Other sources[edit]

External links[edit]