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Motorsports events trace their roots to the late 19th century, when several automobile races took place in France and featured entrants from early car manufacturers such as Peugeot along with amateur motor-vehicle enthusiasts. The cars that took place in these events were primitive motor vehicles and were still commonly known as "horseless carriages." By 1895, motorsports had come to America with an automobile race starting in Chicago and stretching to nearby Evanston, Illinois, and back. The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin, has been hosting motor races since 1903. From those humble beginnings, motorsports has grown into one of the most popular forms of recreation in the world, with legions of fans and spectators regularly gathering at racetracks to support their favorite drivers in nearly every nation.
In North America, the most popular form of motor racing is stock car racing, which usually takes place on specially designed oval tracks, although road courses are also used at times. The primary circuit for stock car racing is NASCAR, or the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, which was formed in 1948 and conducts races throughout North America. Major NASCAR races typically take place in front of huge crowds, with attendance often exceeding 100,000 spectators. Open-wheel racing, featuring race cars with their wheels located outside of the vehicle's main body and typically containing only one seat, also has a foothold in North America. For example, the Indianapolis 500, one of the most famous events in motorsports with a history stretching back to 1911, features open-wheel racing. Formula One, which traces its roots to the 1920s in Europe, also features single-seat open-wheel cars.
Other forms of motorsports include endurance racing, drag racing, motorcycle racing, touring car racing, production car racing, go-karts, road rallies, off-road racing, and events that recreate historical auto races.