To tie in with the Monaco Grand Prix today’s post is written by a great friend and motorsport enthusiast, Sally Higgins. Despite living only an hour from Monaco I’ve never been to the Grand Prix. It’s really not my idea of fun. Sally, on a recent visit to Lou Messugo, however, jumped at the chance to go to the Historic GP and write about it for me. And who better than such an expert? Amongst other things Sally has worked for Rally Australia organising rallies across the world and has actually driven in a rally car around the Andes with Carlos Sainz. She’s ridden an ancient Russian motorbike across the northern highlands of Vietnam and driven a solar-powered car from Darwin to Adelaide! Over to you Sal!
Guest Post by Sally Higgins, motorsport enthusiast!
My day job is organising large scale international events in and around Perth in Western Australia, with a bent towards motorsport. So while visiting Lou Messugo gite I couldn’t resist the Monaco Grand Prix Historique. This is not some old blokes taking their classic or vintage car out for a Sunday drive, this is reliving Viva Las Vegas (Elva Mk. VI), To Catch a Thief (Sunbeam Alpine Mk.1) and Goldfinger (Aston Martin).
Ticket prices are reasonable – from 35€ to 50€ for a Grand Stand seat. I bought a ticket online a couple of days before, and somehow it meant that I had to go to the ticket office on the day to pick it up. There were plenty of tickets available, and as it turns out you can buy them at the many ticket offices in Monaco – e.g. the Post Office, on the day. So I would recommend this option over pre-purchase.
Some friends were kind enough to offer to drive me to the nearest access point for Monaco. We discussed this at length the night before, sure that there would be congestion on all the roads into Monaco, and also because Grand Prix-related road closures, no way of driving around inside the city. The plan was to drop me at the Gare de Cap d’Ail and I would catch the train from there. We left home at about 7.45 am to counter any possible traffic and as it turns out there was none and we drove straight to the designated parking area at the Stadium and I walked from there, collected my ticket and had my pick of seats in the Grandstand. Win!
The first race was pre-war Grand Prix cars, including a 1927 Bugatti. As the cars came onto the track, I remembered the secret pleasure of the sound of really noisy, old fashioned V8 cars with not much muffler. It is a growl, and as there were quite a few of them they shook the ground as they came past. Which was a surprise – because these cars looked more like ‘The Great Race’ or ‘Wacky Races’ and with Muttley, Dick Dastardly and Penelope Pitstop. The drivers leaned into the corners to counter the high centre of gravity of these old proto-type cars.
After a bit of a tussle it was the 1934 Alfa Romeo who won, driven by Matthew GRIST from Great Britain at an average speed of 98km/h. It turns out the Bugattis were only there for show.
Race 2 was Pre 1961 F1 Grand Prix cars and Formula 2. The cars are a little lower, a little more rounded and aerodynamic but still have the deep, thundering roar. There was commentary in four languages throughout the day and this is how we learned that Kiwi driver Roger Wills who won Race 2 in a Cooper, was not British. The podium ceremony organisers didn’t get the memo and everyone was left a bit confused when they played the British national anthem as the British flag was raised.
Frank STIPPLER (GER) came 2nd in a Maserati, in a dramatic tussle with Gary Pearson in a BRM. STIPPLER deserving a mention both because he was driving a Maserati and because his name reminds me of a character in another secret pleasure – watching American Pie movies (1, 2 & 3).
Each race was approximately 10 laps, so no time to get bored.
Race 3 was the one that I thought would be my favourite – the 1.5lt F1 Grand Prix cars from 1961 to 1965. This is definitely the era of the classic & romantic car movies. Another Brit, Andy MIDDLEHURST won this one in a 1962 Lotus. Argentine driver Jorge FERIOLI is listed in the results, but I’m pretty sure I saw his front wheel fly off, and his LOLA career off into the wall and out of harm’s way.
From Grandstand K, on the corner of the Port and at the end of Rue Grimaldi, I had a very good view. I took binoculars but only needed them to see what the people on the yachts were up to. Anything that I couldn’t see was broadcast on a gigantic big screen.
During the lunch break there were some showcasing laps of a Renault F1 turbo from the late ’70s early ’80s. This was a beast. Three more races came after lunch, with the cars getting progressively newer and a bit more squeally.
However, my time was up. The weather was agreeable, so I decided to leave before the last race and walk back to the Cap d’Ail train station along the Sentier du Littoral. An excellent way to finish the day!
My summary at the end – so loud and so exciting! Do bring earplugs.
Sally has also guest written for me about the Monte Carlo Rally, so pop over and show her some love!
Have you been to either the historic or regular Monaco Grand Prix? Would you like to go? Do get in touch.
Originally from Perth, Western Australia, Sally has lived in such diverse places as Chile, Vietnam, Canada, France, Japan, UAE and India. She writes about her wild world adventures at Agatha Bertram Travels.
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