Frank Duryea

8/10/1869 - 15/12/1967

Record updated

Early motoring pioneer and winner of the first automobile race in the USA on 28th November 1895.

Frank Duryea
Frank Duryea was born in Washborn, Illinois, younger brother to Charles. They became bicycle manufacturers who developed an interest in gasoline engines and automobiles. On September 20 1893, their first automobile was constructed and successfully tested on the public streets of Springfield, Massachusetts.

America's First Automobile Race was held on November 28, 1895 at 8:55 am. Six motorcars left Chicago's Jackson Park for a 54-mile race to Evanston, Illinois and back through the snow. Number 5, driven by Frank, won the race in just over 10 hours at an average speed of about 7.3 miles per hour. He won $2,000, the enthusiast who named the horseless vehicles "motorcycles" won $500, and the Chicago Times-Herald, sponsor of the race, declared, "Persons who are inclined to decry the development of the horseless carriage will be forced to recognize it as an admitted mechanical achievement, highly adapted to some of the most urgent needs of our civilization."

Frank and Charles Duryea founded the Duryea Motor Wagon Company in 1896 using some of the prize money. They became the first company to manufacture and sell gasoline-powered vehicles. By 1896, the company had sold thirteen cars of the model Duryea, an expensive limousine, which remained in production into the 1920s.

Later a degree of controversy sprung up as to who had invented the car. Charles' name was always on t he patent but Frank claimed that he was the inventor as he designed the plans. They finally dropped the argument, agreeing that it was a joint invention.