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The First Car on the Road in Springfield Massachusetts

Getty Images, photo by Peter Macdiamid

I love Cars. Not driving them, riding in them or looking at them. I like working on them. I recently put an engine in my 1995 Chevy s-10 pickup which was a job-and-a-half, but she runs like a champ. That’s why when I saw in September, 1893 the first gas powered vehicle was test driven on the streets of Springfield, Massachusetts, my ears went up like a dog seeing a bone. The Duryea Motor Company was the first company to manufacture and sell gas powered vehicles when brothers Charles and Frank founded the Duryea Wagon Company.

By 1896 the company had sold thirteen cars and an expensive limousine. Thirteen cars sold in three years, not very good by today’s standard, but in the late 1800’s people were still sold on the horse and carriage as a means of transportation and cars seemed like a passing fancy. We know now they were wrong, as our cars have turned into our main means of transportation, and a part of our family. We name cars, we wash them, and we pat them when they do a good job. Basically, we’re crazy about our cars.

NASCAR is a huge sport these days and has gained more and more popularity over the last several years. The first automobile race was held in November, 1895 just two years after the first successful test of a gas powered vehicle. It was held in Chicago’s Jackson Park for a 54 mile race to Evanston, Illinois and back with six motor cars in the race. What made this race different is it was run in the snow. The number 5 car was driven by inventor Frank Duryea, who won the race, in just over 10 hours at a speed of 7.3 mph. The winner received $2,000.00, a lot in 1895, and they had a name the vehicle contest where a person in the crowd watching the race won $500 for their name ‘motorcycles.’ That’s a name we know today for a two wheeled gas power vehicle and the name we know now for the first Duryea car, ‘The Horseless Carriage.’

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