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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Great blog! I was in Monte Carlo few years ago, but I have never visited Gran Prix. I believe it is an extraordinary feeling.
Thank you for sharing.
I’ve been to Monaco, but not the Grand Prix. Not too much into races (despite being from Tennessee). Monaco is great though! Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler!
A great post Sally! We had almost the exact same seats for the F1 a week later. The Historique race sounds awesome – and yep, the loud engines would have thrilled me too. The new F1 cars sound so different. No need for ear plugs for those (but did need ear plugs for the Formula Renault). Well done Sal! If you have any other great experiences or meals you feel compelled to write about, you can guest blog on travelletto.com any time 🙂
I’ve been to Monaco before, but never for the Grand Prix. Not much into cars myself. We had the first Red Bull Air Race here in Rovinj. Went for the crowd and partying, but realized that I am not much into planes either :). However, Sally did a great job with the post!
I would love to go to the Monaco Grand Prix, I have been to the Belgian GP and can listen to the Melbourne Grand Prix with my garden doors open and watch it on the telly, so I can vouch for the ear plugs needed!!!
Have a great week
Ohhhh – cool pictures, cool event. I’ve never been – so I appreciate having my horizons expanded!!!! Great idea having a guest post since this isn’t your cup of tea!
I never really understood the appeal of car racing. My boyfriend seems to like it well enough though so I think it is only a matter of time before we go to one. This one sounds cool though with all the historic cars. I think I can probably handle it.
What fabulous photos and a fantastic post – I didn’t know that they did a classic car version of the Monaco Grand Prix, it sounds better than the regular one to me 🙂 . My Mum and Dad went to the regular Grand Prix and I know that my Mum really enjoyed herself. One day I will get there! Thank you so much for linking to PoCoLo 🙂 x
This sounds like a fun experience! Honestly though, like you we’ve passed on an opportunity to attend as we wanted to experience the area without the crowds. A couple of years ago we went right after the race ended and got to sit in the grandstands that hadn’t been cleared away yet without all the crowds:)
I would like to see it, but I am not sure I would stay the whole day… Did see the miglia mille last year though, that was great to see all the old cars!
Put it in your calendar for next year Merlinda, but plan ahead early as prices to get here are crazy if left too late.
It’s true the setting really is amazing.
Great memories I’m sure Jen. 🙂
It’s certainly fun in the build up to the GP weekend I agree Jan, there’s a real buzz about the place.
I agree Molly, the atmosphere would be great even if not a F1 fan, but I still prefer to stay away!! Ha ha!
So many reasons to come and stay at Lou Messugo SJ!! 😮
I don’t like the noise either Rachel! Luckily for me Sally does so she went and took notes for me.
Vrrroooom vrooom, I’d love to see this! Big thanks for linking up with us for #SundayTraveler again.
I love Monaco, though I think I’ll take it WITHOUT all that noise! The old cars sound fun, though!
I mainly picture the old Speed Racer cartoon when I think of a Grand Prix. I had no idea that they had heats with vintage cars as well. That really makes it quite fun, doesn’t it. Watching it from a yacht seems so exotic, but I bet the view isn’t as good as what you could see in the grandstand. I’ll definitely remember to bring earplugs!
Not a fan myself but loving the photos in this post.
Exactly what they said – forget about walking to business meetings! The price to pay for living / working in such a fabulous place …
Been to the Spanish and Belgian GPs but strangely never the British, and sadly never the Monaco. A great guest post 🙂
What happens to the poor folk of Monaco(if there are any) while this bedlam is going on? How do they cross the road when they want to buy a baguette?
The other nice thing is that there is quite a long break for lunch, so many people dived off to the nearest restaurant. If you do go, don’t forget ear plugs!
If you do get over to Monaco the Littoral du Sentier goes right through to Antibes, I think – with gaps here and there. Phoebe can tell us more about that. May be it exists in stretches with large gaps, but a very nice walk.
Haha! No, motorsport is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Hi Ruth, you should definately put it on the agenda.
In Perth we will be paying close attention to the GP this weekend to see how well Danny Ricciardo does. The Historique was really good and really accessible, it was a fun day.
One to do next year! I’ve never been to a race like that, and even though I’m not a massive car fan I think I’d like to go just for the atmosphere. Great photos!
I’m with you on that Catherine, which is why I sent along my trusty car-loving friend Sally to report for me! 😮
I’ve only been to Monaco once before, but it’s time to stop by again. I think going for an event is a great idea. I’m not sure if that’s the best event for me to go to, not a big car fan, but maybe the hubs would enjoy it. Hmm. Food for thought. Thanks for the tip of not pre-purchasing tickets.
I have been in Monaco for the lead up to the race. All the seats were in place and boards were erected up on the hill where the Palace was so that you couldn’t watch the race from up there I guess. It is a fantastic venue for such a race and I can imagine the race fever!
This looks so much fun! The people, the sites and the event! I have envy =) #PoCoLo
I don’t think I could take the noise. But what a great setting for a race.
That sounds like a great plan!
Lovely to see these photos you don’t see the boats on TV, it looks idyllic!
Love the photos. The last motor sports event I went to was with my dad when he was alive and I loved it because he loved it
Loving the photos but not a huge racing fan, they just go round and round and round
I’m not a big F1 fan….my dad is though! but your pics of the coastline were enough to make me want to jump on a plane right now!!
Sounds like a great experience – despite many trips to the south of France (and Lou Messugo), I’ve never been to Monaco! To be rectified next time, perhaps!
I am a massive F1 fan and this is my favourite race of the whole season. Love the photos as they show things the TV often misses.
Although not a GP fan myself I would love to go to Monaco. I have thought about taking my OH for his 40th as he is a big fan!