George Heath (Panhard-Levassor 130) prepares for the first French GP (LAT archive)
On this day in 1906, the Automobile Club de France staged the first recognized Grand Prix auto race, staged on closed public roads outside the city of Le Mans. The event was organized at the request of French automobile manufacturers as an alternative to the Gordon Bennett races, which limited each competing country's number of entries regardless of the size of its industry. France had the largest automobile industry in Europe at the time
The ACF arranged a 64-mile circuit, composed primarily of dust roads sealed with tar, which would be lapped six times over June 26-27 by each competitor. Lasting for more than 12 hours overall, the race was won by Ferenc Szisz driving for the Renault team. FIAT driver Felice Nazzaro finished second, and Albert Clément was third in a Clément-Bayard.