Two cars fitted with a Daimler two-cylinder V-engine shared first prize in the world’s first motor car race in 1894 and a Benz vehicle received 5th prize. The reliability test drive from Paris to Rouen paved the way for the unique tradition of 120 years of Mercedes-Benz motor sport history. But the winners of the race from Paris to Rouen were not only the vehicles from Panhard & Levassor and Peugeot, but the motor car with a combustion engine per se. After all, on the 126-kilometre-long route, the motor vehicle powered by the fast-running Daimler engine demonstrated its superiority over road-going vehicles with other propulsion systems. This magic moment would change mobility for ever: “How can you travel other than in an motor car?” («Comment peut-on voyager autrement qu’en automobile? »), is how on 23 July the newspaper “Le Petit Journal,” organiser of the competition, enthusiastically summed up the result of the competition, as it looked forward to the future with excitement and anticipation.
The first motor car race in history, which took place on 22 July 1894 over the 126-kilometre route from Paris to Rouen, was not just about speed. Rather the aim was for vehicles to demonstrate their excellent road-going credentials as part of the competition organised by the French daily newspaper “Le Petit Journal”: the vehicle to win would be the one that most effectively fulfilled the criteria, “to be easy to operate for the competitors without any danger and not too expensive to run” (« être sans danger, aisément maniable pour les voyageurs et de ne pas coûter trop cher sur la route »).