February 16, 1906 – The (possibly) first use of a checkered flag to end an auto race

The Vanderbilt Cup races of the early 20th century were among the most prestigous of events in the early days of motoring. The daring races captured hearts and minds of drivers and spectators alike, starting in 1904. However at the 1906 race in Nassau County, New York, something happened that would forever change auto racing history (probably). According to VanderbiltCupRaces.com, race starter Fred Wagner waved a checkered flag as Darracq driver Louis Wagner crossed the finish line in first place on this day in 1906. This is apparently the first use of such a flag, a tradition that has lasted ever since. The event is pictured above. Willie K. Vanderbilt can be seen saluting the winning driver.

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