AUTOMOBILE RACING. On 28 November 1895, the Chicago Times Herald sponsored the first automobile race held in the United States. Its purposes were to test American cars and promote the nascent automobile industry. The winning speed, in a Duryea car, was 7.5 miles per hour (mph). The first series of races on American soil was organized in 1900 by Gordon Bennett, the owner of the New York Herald, with national automobile clubs of entrant nations choosing teams of three cars to compete on open roads. With a va riety of mechanical and design improvements, race speeds had increased significantly and fatal accidents were not uncommon, inv olving both drivers and spectators.
The years from 1904 to 1910 saw the first Vanderbilt Cup street races on Long Island, organized by William K. Vanderbilt and held despite both legal threats and public misgivings. The first race, held on 8 October 1904 and sanctioned by the new American Automobile Association, had eighteen entrants on a 30.24-mile course mostly through Nassau County in New York. In 1906 the race attracted 250,000 spectators, but because of safety concerns it was canceled in 1907, resuming the following year after the Long Island Motor Parkway was built.
In 1908, the Savannah Automobile Club hosted the first American Grand Prize race. The original seventeen-mile course, built in 1904, was expanded to 25.13 miles. Present were sixteen thousand crowd-control marshals and thirty doctors. There were fourteen European and six American entries. The Gold Cup prize for the race was $5,000, twice that of the Vanderbilt Cup. Production cars were introduced to the American Grand Prize in 1909. Governed by the Automobile Club de France rules, the American Grand Prize was now the main American race entered by European drivers.
Basketball Association. In 2001, Fox, NBC, and TNT (Turner Television) signed a six-year, $2.4 billion deal for NASCAR's television rights. (In comparison, NASCAR received only $3 million for its television rights in 1985.) Fox's television viewership in 2001 averaged 5.2 million fans per broadcast race (a 41 percent increase over the previous year), and NBC and TNT television viewership in the same year averaged 3.9 million viewers per race (a 35 percent increase over the previous year). NASCAR conducts stock car races under the auspices of its Grand National Division. The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), established in Westport, Connecticut, in 1945, oversees sports car racing in the United States. Additionally, the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), founded in Los Angeles in 1951, sponsors drag racing at the Winternationals in Los Angeles, the Springnationals in Bristol, Tennessee, a national meet in Indianapolis, and a World Championship race in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The NHRA, the SCCA, NASCAR, and the United States Auto Club belong to the Automobile Competition Committee of the United States (ACCUS), which is the U.S. represen tative to the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the controlling body of automobile racing worldwide since World War II.
In 1950, the first World Championship for drivers was held based on the results of the British, Swiss, Monaco, Belgium, French, and Italian Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500. The Indy 500 was included to promote Grand Prix racing in America.