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H.S. Harkness in his Mercedes-Simplex, winning five-miles event
Racecar driving had come a long way by the time this Mercedes-Simplex won on the Grosse Pointe track in Detroit in 1902

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The First American Automobile Race
November 28, 1895

Auto races of today, such as the Indianapolis 500, have sleek, colorful cars screeching around a racetrack at speeds so fast that some spin off into the sides of the track, flipping over as they go.

Back in 1895, auto racing was just beginning and it was a very different sort of sport. On November 28, 1895, six "motocycles" (a nickname for a horseless vehicle) left Chicago's Jackson Park at 8:55 a.m. for a 54-mile race to Evanston, Illinois, and back through the snow. The winner, Number 5, driven by inventor J. Frank Duryea, won the race in just over 10 hours with an average speed of 7.3 miles per hour!

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