The Golden Age of Motorsports is widely considered to be the 1930s. Less forgiving tracks and hugely powerful vehicles compared to their road grip. These races were truly thrilling. The 1933 Monaco Grand Prix witnessed 21 lead changes over 100 laps. It’s got to be the 1930s, no decade that beat it. Yes, racing in the 1930s was wildly dangerous but what came from this were true heroes and pioneers of the sport. The decade itself was characterized by a romantic dream of mechanized speed and power. Nothing can match this decade for sheer style.
Motorsports went through a seismic change in the 1980s. Racing as about technological advances, the latest, the best, the cutting edge will win the day. The 80s saw dramatic improvements in aerodynamics, braking technology, and engine efficiency. Never before had the sport witnessed such a huge increase in financial investment and technological expertise. Combine this with a spirit of adventure and lax rules and you have the ingredients for the real golden age of motorsport, the 1980s.
The world’s first motorsports competition was held in France in 1894. The course ran from Paris to Rouen and was advertised as a “horseless carriage” competition. The fastest to complete the 78 mile (or 126 km, if you’re French) course was not awarded the main prize despite being first over the finishing line. This is because the man with possibly the longest name in motorsports, Jules Félix Philippe Albert de Dion de Wandonne, was driving a steam-powered car that required another man to stoke the engine. First prize went to the car that most closely fitted what was considered “ideal” by the organizers. This was won by the second placed driver, Albert Lemaitre who was driving a Peugeot (at an average speed of 12 mph!)