It seems incredible by the standards of 2020, but the 1903 Paris to Madrid Race was such an incalculable calamity and had amassed such a loss of life that it was cancelled after the first day. In an era when the most powerful cars in the world made less than 100hp how could this happen? Too many people, too few rules, too little knowledge of what these machines were capable of, and ultimately no precedents to follow.
One day of racing set motorsports back nearly three decades, claimed the lives of internationally famous businessmen, soldiers, and kids. Four classes of cars scheduled to leave a Parisian palace at 3:30am turned into a spectacle the likes of which the world had never seen before and was fearful of ever seeing again.
Through the sounds of the cars that were there, the first hand accounts of competitors, and the news reporting that was done around the world, listen to the story of the 1903 Paris to Madrid Race, or as it was known then, “The Race To Death” by following the link below.
If you are thing that the 1955 Le Mans debacle is worse on the face of sheer numbers, remember that there was a 1956 Le Mans race. After this event the next open road race in Europe did not happen until Italy signed off on the Mille Miglia in 1927. That’s freaking something, right?! You’ll have to hear the whole story to understand how bad this one was.