Georges Lemaître classified 1st in his Peugeot 3hp
On July 22, 1894, the Parisian magazine Le Petit Journal organised what is considered to be the world’s first car race from Paris to Rouen. Sporting events were a tried and tested form of publicity stunt and circulation booster. Pierre Giffard, the paper’s editor, promoted it as a Competition for Horeseless Carriages (Concours des Voitures sans Chevaux) that were not dangerous, easy to drive, and cheap during the journey. Thus it blurred the distinctions between a reliability trial, a general event and a race, but the main prize was for the first across the finish line in Rouen. 102 people paid the 10 franc entrance fee.
69 cars started the 50 km (31 mi) selection event that would show which entrants would be allowed to start the main event, the 127 km (79 mi) race from Paris to Rouen. The entrants ranged from serious manufacturers like Peugeot, Panhard or De Dion to amateur owners, and only 25 were selected for the main race.
The race started from Porte Maillot and went through the Bois de Boulogne. Count Jules-Albert de Dion was first into Rouen after 6 hours and 48 minutes at an average speed of 19 km/h. He finished 3’30” ahead of Georges Lemaître (Peugeot), followed by Doriot (Peugeot) at 16’30”, René Panhard (Panhard) at 33’30’’ and Émile Levassor (Panhard) at 55’30”. The official winners were Peugeot and Panhard as cars were judged on their speed, handling and safety characteristics, and De Dion’s steam car needed a stoker which was forbidden.