How do I explain to you the experience that I had at this event? For those of you who love pure racing, man and race car, noise, danger, the fun of racing then this covers it all.
So this is for all you ‘petrolheads’ who long to see F1 cars race each other on track – not in the ‘stewards office’ or in the ‘higher echelons’ of some bureaucratic HQ.
We at ‘iberianmph.com’ are known around the paddock. We want to give you the best of motorsport and from the heart. This 11th Grand Prix de Monaco Historic gives you all you need. I promise that!
The circuit has changed somewhat over the last 70 years or so. The races used to be 100 laps because the circuit was shorter but due to expansion and additions the track became longer. Now Formula One is 78 laps but basically all on the hallowed surface of the old track on which such famous drivers fought to win.
I walked the circuit, all 3.340km I don’t know how many times. It just does not look like the Monaco circuit you see on television. It is narrow and short. There really are no long straights apart from the corner from the pit entrance to Sainte Devote but what a street circuit and only very brave places to overtake.
What I can tell you is that these historic cars which took to the Monaco track were no slower than in their day. I could give you lap times but to do so would take away the whole experience of what I am trying to achieve which is the experience of being in Monaco at a motor racing event.
You can smell the tyres, smell the oil and hear the engines – whether they be V8s or straight 6s. The engines did not matter it was the environment of men (and woman) who wanted to race their cars here at Monaco.
Remember the heroes, the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio in 1950 doing 100 laps in his Alfa Romeo, or Graham Hill (called The King of Monaco) in 1968 doing 80 laps in his Lotus 49B. We also had Stirling Moss, Mike Hawthorn, Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren and even Bernie Ecclestone. Ayrton Senna was a six times winner.
In the early days of Monaco the sea could lap up onto the track and cause mayhem and even cars ended up in the sea. Back in those days there were no arm coving barriers. It was literally a street circuit, parked cars, trees and shop fronts. Times have changed, as has the track, but it is still the Street Circuit of Monaco. A fantastic place to be and race.
Many teams and privateers entered their cars into this event. Some were professional historic racing teams and others were just owners of a historic racing cars.
This event covered 7 classes of cars. Class ‘A’ were pre-war GP cars (1928 – 1939), what excitement they gave to see them on track. Bugatti, ERA, Maserati, Frazer Nash, Talbot, Amilcar, Delarge. The drivers were either crazy or just in love and harmony with the car that they threw around the bends on Monaco. You had to see it to believe it!
Then came class ‘B’, these were pre-1961 front engined F1 and Formula 2 cars. Imagine Stirling Moss driving and winning his races here in Monaco.
Class ‘C’ cars were front-engine sports cars covering the period 1952 – 1957. I must confess they were not my favourite of the weekend but they really did impress me. Again it was man, machine and the street circuit of Monaco.
On to class ‘D’ GP rear-engine cars (1961 – 1965). What can I say? Cars that have a heart, that beat when the engine is running, they hum a tune. Yes call me nuts but I just love being around these sorts of car. Remember Stirling Moss, Bruce McLaren and Graham Hill won Monaco in these cars back in their day.
Moving on to class ‘E’ GP cars (1966 – 1972). This is the period we start to see the changes in design. These were the cars that Jackie Stewart, Denny Hulme, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt raced and won this prestigious event.
Class ‘F’ covered GP cars (1973 – 1976) and Class ‘G’ (1977 – 1980). These were mainly Ford Cosworth DFVs but with some Ferrari-engined cars.
All the cars were prepared in their original colours, advertising etc. and were meticulously maintained.
The racing was what you would expect from a Historic event. The drivers I would personally put into two classes, i.e. the drivers with a fast car and who like to drive it fast and then the drivers who have a fast car and want to race it. That being the difference. Clearly those drivers who finished in the top 10 of whichever class wanted to race and race they did.
The organizers put on a fantastic weekend of Historic racing. In addition to help celebrate this event we had former F1 drivers in attendance who participated in the F1 heritage parade and they drove some of the historic cars. John Watson, Thierry Boutsen, Riccardo Patrese, Mika Hakkinen, Eddie Irvine, Mark Blundell, Karun Chandhok. Also Josh Hill, the grandson of Graham Hill drove one of his grandfather’s winning Lotus cars around the same circuit. They all loved being there and driving the circuit even though they were not racing each other.
For us at iberianmph.com it was great to be at this event and to bring to you some of the ambiance of Monaco and racing through the ages. I hope you enjoy reading and seeing the pictures as much as I did taking them.