This edition is sponsored by Gumption Savannah Membership
There’s not a single international racetrack to be found similar to those located in Indianapolis and Bristol or Daytona. However, on a cool, November day in 1908, the very first Grand Prix race was held in Savannah, Georgia. In the past, it was referred to as “The American Prize.”
It was organized by Savannah Automobile Club and the Automobile Club of America, the event relied on convict labor to construct and maintain the 17-mile course. Extra police were there to ensure that convicts didn’t escape, with images of racecars racing through the country back roads in the south of Savannah.
Twenty cars raced – 14 European in addition to six American which included notable automobile names such as Benz as well as Fiat along with Renault. The race was held on Thanksgiving Day, 1908. The race came down to three competitors: Victor Hemery, Louis Waggoner, and Felice Nazzaro. Waggoner took the victory in 56 seconds. He averaged 65 miles an hour, while most speedy laps were 69.8 miles/hour. The race lasted 16 laps, which totaled 402 miles. Louis Waggoner won in six hours, ten mins, and thirty-one seconds.
The loss of the race came from the public’s resentment against the use of convict labor for maintaining the track. Accidents occurred frequently on the track during the practice sessions, which led to an unconfirmed death. The final race at Savannah was held in 1911.
Every year in November, the American Grand Prize is remembered in Savannah where racecar drivers display their talents on the Savannah River from Hutchison Island.
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