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September 7, 1896 – The first US auto race

On this day in 1896 an automobile manufacturer sponsored automobile race took place at the  Narragansett Trotting Park which was a one mile-long dirt oval at the state fairgrounds generally reserved for horse racing and located in Cranston, Rhode Island. Seven cars entered the five lap “Providence Horseless Carriage Race” and to the awe of 60,000 spectators they watched as a Riker Electric took home the checkered flag with an average speed of about 20 miles per hour. Along with the Riker there were five internal combustion vehicles and one other electric car. It is said the race started so slow that spectators began to yell, “Get a horse!” Second place was given to the other electric car, built by Electric Carriage and Wagon Company and third place was a Duryea.

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