In the early 20th century, the motor car was considered a killer. The culprit was the 1903 Paris to Madrid road race that never made it to Madrid. It was stopped by the French prime minister, Emile Combes, as it got to Bordeaux. The reason? The race had killed 10 people and injured many more in just the 8 hours and 35 minutes it took the leaders to get there.
This fear of the motor car was born of ignorance. The 1903 Paris-Madrid cars could do up to 90 mph, yet most towns and villages along the route were used to horses and carts, certainly not cars; these bats from hell were, to say the least, an oddity. People roamed the route with their kids, oblivious to the danger that awaited them. So some of the drivers overplayed their hands and that often ended in disaster. That killed off any enthusiasm there may have been for motor sport events for years to come.
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