The first air race was held on May 23, 1909, at the Port-Aviation airport south of Paris, France. It took place only six years after the very first flight by the Wright brothers. A French aviator and sculptor, Léon Delagrange won the race despite the fact that he covered slightly more than half of the ten 1.2-kilometre laps. On 7 January 1909, he was awarded one of the first eight aviators certificates awarded by the Aéro-Club de France.

Only two out of four participating pilots started the race but nobody completed the full race distance. This was not unexpected as there was a rule stating that whoever traveled furthest would be the winner if no-one completed the race. Most of Europe’s top aeronauts were there. There were six major events. Of the major competitions, one was for the duration, one was for altitude and the other four were for speed around the six-mile, four-pylon course. There were 'planes by Bleriot, Voisin, Antoinette, and Farman, and even several French-built Wrights. The Wrights themselves had passed on an invitation to race at Reims, which was awkward since the Gordon Bennett Trophy was crowned with a large replica of a Wright Flyer. For the full week of aerial competition, hundreds of thousands of people had seen air racing, and many times that many had read about it in their newspapers.

First Air Race

A pioneer French Aviator and sculptor, Ferdinand Leon Delagrange was born on 13th march 1872. He was one of the top-ranked aviators in the world. In the Michelin Cup, on 30 December 1909, he had broken all kind of records. He established a new distance record for monoplanes and a new world speed record although he did not succeed in beating Henry Farman's the record for distance. He maintained the speed of 45 miles an hour in covering 124 miles in 2 hours and 32 minutes. He was killed by a fall on 4 January 1910 in Bordeaux.

The Grande Semaine d'Aviation de la Champagne held on August 22–29, 1909 at Reims, France, was the first major international flying event. This event drew the attention of the most important aircraft makers and pilots of the era and celebrities, as well as royalty. Glenn Curtiss won the first Gordon Bennett Trophy competition which was the premier event. He defeated second placed Louis Bleriot by five seconds. Dominques field was the place for the first air race in the United States. It was organized by pilots A Roy Knabenshue and Charles Willard from January 10 to 20, 1910. Coverage of the event was carried by William Randolph in his Los Angeles Examiner. 16 out of total 43 entrants appeared at the event. Aviation pioneer and military pilot Jimmy Doolittle who was then thirteen years old saw his first airplane at this event.