Since the very beginning of motorsports competition, a common thread has run through the sport: It takes money to go fast. An old joke goes something like, “You know how to make a million dollars at racing? Start with five million!” In this day of Formula One teams spending half a billion dollars during a season, it’s hard to imagine a time when an individual racer could be competitive in a race series with a home-made car, running on a shoe-string budget.
Long before there were such things as factory teams, large transporters, and professional drivers, enthusiasts with limited resources looked for ways to enter the sport. Many decided the only avenue available was to build their own car. A number of years ago, one such enthusiast did just that by building a tubular frame chassis and dropping in the best engine (a 500-cc) he could find at the time. When finished, the car weighed in at just under 600 pounds. The builder then entered the car in two long-distance races of 80 and 100 miles in length. Against many larger cars, he won both events. The builders name was Louis Renault and the year was 1899.
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