September 7, 1896 – The first closed course automobile race in the US

On this day in 1896 an automaker sponsored automobile race took place at the Narragansett Trotting Park in Cranston, Rhode Island, marking the first automobile race held on a closed course racetrack in the United States.  Narragansett was a one mile-long dirt oval at the state fairgrounds that was normally reserved for horse racing, but on this day more than 60,000 spectators watched in awe as seven vehicles participated in the “Providence Horseless Carriage Race.” It is said the race started so slow that spectators began to yell, “Get a horse!”

The cars preparing to race

With an average speed of 20 miles per hour, a Riker Electric was the first to finish the five lap race. Along with the Riker there were five internal combustion vehicles and one other electric car. Second place was given to the other electric car, built by Electric Carriage and Wagon Company and third place was a Duryea Motor Wagon.

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