Grand Prix motor racing has its roots in organised automobile racing that began in France as far back as 1894. It quickly evolved from a simple road race from one town to the next, to endurance tests for car and driver. Innovation and the drive of competition soon saw speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour (160 km/h), but because the races were held on open roads there were frequent accidents with the resulting fatalities to both drivers and spectators.
Grand Prix motor racing eventually evolved into formula racing, and Formula One can be seen as its direct descendant. Each event of the Formula One World Championships is still called a Grand Prix. Formula One is still referred to as Grand Prix racing.
In 1900, James Gordon Bennett, Jr., the owner of the New York Herald newspaper and the International Herald Tribune, established the Gordon Bennett Cup. He hoped that the creation of an international event would drive automobile manufacturers to improve their cars. Each country was allowed to enter up to three cars, which had to be fully built in the country that they represented and entered by that country's automotive governing body. International racing colours were established in this event. In the United States, William Kissam Vanderbilt II launched the Vanderbilt Cup at Long Island, New York in 1904.