The First Grand Prix – History of the 1906 French GP

The First Grand Prix – History of the 1906 French GP Page Two

The roads that made up the course were closed at 5 a.m. the morning of June 25, 1906 with the race scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. Fernand Gabriel in a Lorraine-Dietrich was supposed to start first. But his engine stalled and he wasn’t able to re-start before it was time for Vincenzo Lancia in a FIAT to get going. The last of the 32—De la Touloubre in a Clément-Bayard—left at 6:49:30 a.m.

At the end of the first lap, Lancia’s FIAT led with a time of 53 minutes, 42 seconds. At the end of the second lap, Paul Baras’ in a Brasier was in front. But by the end of the third lap, Ferenc Szisz in a Renault took over the lead, which he never relinquished. Baras in the Brasier set the fastest lap with a time of 52 minutes, 25.4 seconds. Many of the cars achieved almost 100 mph. After six laps and 372 miles, racing stopped and re-started the following day for the concluding six laps.

Ferenc Szisz held onto the lead after the second day, finishing 32 minutes ahead of Felics Nazzaro’s FIAT with Albert Clément coming third in an additional three minutes in his Clément-Bayard. Two of the three Mercedes finished, but, much to the disappointment of Germany, some four hours behind the winning Renault.

Hungarian driver Ferenc Szisz won the 1906 French Grand Prix in a Renault
Hungarian driver Ferenc Szisz won the race in a Renault. Two other Renaults driven by French drivers failed to finish due to accidents.
1906 French Grand Prix - Georges Teste Panhard
Georges Teste of France had an accident in a Panhard and failed to finish. Board fencing was erected where the course went through towns and villages in order to keep spectators safe.
De la Touloubre in a Clement-Bayard - 1906 French Grand Prix
Frenchman De la Touloubre in a Clement-Bayard failed to finish when his gearbox broke. The wooden-road in the background was built to bypass Ste Calais.
George Heath Panhard 1906 French Grand Prix
One of only two Americans in the race was George Heath who drove a Panhard to sixth place.
Elliott Shepard Hotchkiss 1906 French Grand Prix
The second American driver in the race was Elliott Shepard who drove a Hotchkiss. He did not finish due to the failure of a wheel.
Renault driver Ferenc Szisz winner of the 1906 Grand Prix
Renault driver Ferenc Szisz, the winner of the 1906 Grand Prix, leads the Hotchkiss of Elliott Shepard

The First Grand Prix – History of the 1906 French GP Continued

Previous 1 2 3 Next

Show Comments (3)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Art,
    Thanks so much for this article and the photographs. Have passionately followed Formula One for over 30 years and shamefully did not know this part of it’s history.

  2. Well … this does not seem to be the first ‘Grand Prix’.
    According to Gerald Rose, A Record of Motor Racing 1894-1908, first published in1909, the first use of the term ‘Grand Prix’ for a motor race was the 1901 Grand Prix de Pau, held Feb. 17, 1901, 206 1/4 miles and won by M. Farman in a Panhard at46.1 mph.