International Motorsports History
From its infancy, motorsports has had international venues and diverse formats. France’s Paris-Rouen run of 1894, a 79 mile contest won by a de Dion, is listed by most historians as the first official auto race, followed in 1895 by the more rigorous 732 mile Paris-Bordeaux-Paris endurance race. Emile Levassor driving a Panhard won that race. In America, the Chicago Tribune sponsored a race in 1895, won by the Duryea brothers with a car that they put into production soon after. Victory in these early competitive tests of the automobile both encouraged and enabled development of the passenger vehicle and stimulated public acceptance of the automobile and an enthusiasm for racing as a sport. Rolls Royce’s victory in the 1907 Scottish Time Trials inspired construction of what would become one of the most famous, limited, and valuable cars in the world—the Silver Ghost. Six year earlier, a young American mechanic, who had already met failure in the market of car manufacturing, would build a race car and with it beat Alexander Winton. The victory set that mechanic, Henry Ford, in motion to build his dream machine, which would be launched publicly in 1908 as the Model T, a car produced by the hundreds of thousands through 1927.
Racing, and with it the steady development of the automobile, had almost come to a screeching halt with the disastrous 1903 Paris-Madrid race, which was aborted before the participants left Bordeaux and which caused the Auto Club de France, motorsports’ original sanctioning body, to ban racing. But there was no stopping the impetus to race. From its rudimentary beginnings, motorsports evolved quickly from reliability runs, endurance open road racing, and time trials to closed circuit and formula racing and, inevitably, to today’s racing of vintage automobiles. In between, a panoply of racing formats emerged and continue to flourish: hillclimbs, open-wheel Indy-style racing, Grand Prix road racing, land-speed records racing, circle track racing, stock car racing, drag racing, off-road racing, rally racing, etc. Manufacturers have always been cognizant of the benefits of racing even if they have not been directly involved in the sport. Styling cues, experimentation, product development, as well as marketing strategies have often derived from motorsports.
The point is that, inasmuch as motorsports have been an integral element in the development, evolution, and socio-cultural potency of the automobile, the study of automotive history entails a concomitant understanding and thorough investigation of the role, practice, and impact of motorsports
Mission of the International Motorsports History Section (IMH) of SAH:
To promote, contribute to, and support the serious study of international motorsports history.
Goals of IMH
The general goals of the International Motorsports History Section are as follows:
The mission and goals of the International Mot6orsports History Section (IMH) will be served by the following programs that will be developed as the IMH launches:
The development of specific programs under the auspices of the International Motorsports History Section is designed to achieve multidimensional partnerships and objectives that enhance the well being of the IMH’s mission and goals. The programs are designed to be effective mechanisms that perpetuate the study of motorsports history and broaden its base of activities and support. The overall goal is to create a dynamic organization that becomes an important participant in the domain of history and vintage motorsports.
1) International Motorsports History Section Website
The importance of a stand-alone website is a crucial element in the IMH strategy. The website can provide information and access to members and also to those who have interests or needs associated with motorsports history. Moreover, a well-developed website can provide an effective database and repository for researcher, restorers and others seeking knowledge about historically significant marques and personalities. The development of a viable website will provide a valuable connection between members, partners and those interested in motorsports history.
2) International Motorsports History Section Newsletter
A well presented newsletter in conjunction with the website will provide members with ongoing activities of IMH, calendar of events and other pertinent information to foster an active member base. The newsletter will initially be a bi-monthly publication that will be in both printed and electronic format, and to save postage members will be encouraged to receive the electronic version and opt out of the printed mailing list. The format and content will be left to the editor, with input from the membership.
3) Press and Media Outreach Program
One of the charter members with extensive media experience has already composed a successful press release for IMH. This program/committee extends that action from a one-time event to an ongoing activity. Several of the charter members have press credentials, thus allowing insight and access to automotive events and activities. The directive for the press/media program would be focused on increasing the visibility of the IMH and, in turn, build partnerships between the IMH and interested constituencies.
4) Bi-annual Meetings
Bi-annual business meetings will be held in conjunction with the SAH bi-annual conference. The purpose of these meetings will be twofold. First, the meetings will be official organizational meetings designed to take care of organizational and business issues of the IMH. Second, they will serve as a social gathering to network, meet colleagues, make new friends, and discuss ideas and interests
5) Student Scholarship Program
In order to encourage students and institutions of higher learning to partake in the study of motorsports history, an annual scholarship program will be developed. The organization of the scholarship committee and its operation will be determined by the membership of the IMH. The goal of this committee will be to recognize and encourage students who have shown outstanding achievement in an area of motorsports history.
The International Motorsports History Section is a duly constituted section under the auspices of the Society of Automotive Historians, having been voted on and recognized as a legal section under the SAH Charter and By-laws. At its organizational meeting, charter members decided that the IMH would have by majority vote a president and secretary. It is expected that additional positions and committees will be formed to meet specific goals and objectives.
The President of the IMH will be the official representative to the SAH Board of Directors and will act on behalf of the IMH.
Currently there is no budget for the IMH. However, it was agreed that dues would be set at ten dollars ($10) and added to SAH membership dues. First year dues-paying members would be granted the status of Charter Members.