The Grand Tale of the Monaco Grand Prix
Even today, all the Grand Prix fans still wonder: how can a race be held on a track that runs through the city centre like it does in Monaco?
To answer this question, you have to glance in the side mirror to look back in time to 1928. That was the year that Monaco’s Automobile Club was admitted to the International Association of Recognised Automobile Clubs. Anthony Noghès wanted to seal this achievement by hosting a prestigious race in Monaco. There were many obstacles in organising this race, the first of which was the geography of the Principality, which hardly made it suitable for such an endeavour. And obstacles inevitably meant costs: organising such a feat comes at a price!
Fortunately, the Société des Bains de Mer stepped into the breach by proposing precious financing that was so generous that the event organisers could rest easy in spite of all the obstacles. In 1929, just 4 days before the start of the race, the track was ready!
On Sunday, 14 April 1929, 16 competitors representing 8 nations were on the starting line, ready to tackle the 100 laps comprising the 318 km of the race. It was a triumphant victory for Bugatti, whose average speed was 80 km/h.
Thanks to the success of this first edition, the race held in 1930 welcomed new participants. This time there were 23 competitors in all, with spectators showing even more fervour as the Paris-Mutuel allowed them to bet on the winner. On Sunday 6 April 1930, 50,000 spectators literally took Monaco by storm: its bars and restaurants were overwhelmed by such a crowd, who were left hungry and thirsty!
The race’s popularity continued to grow until the war, confirming its success from one year to the next. The race was not held for a period of 10 years during and after the Second World War. In 1948, Monaco restaged the Grand Prix, and the names Fangio and Maurice Trintignant resounded throughout the 1950s.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Jacky Stewart and Jean-Pierre Beltoise followed suit, followed by Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Ricardo Patrese in the 1980s and the undivided reign of Schumacher in the 1990s.
Nowadays, the Monaco Grand Prix continues to cultivate its unique character, just like in 1928. The track still runs through the town’s streets, to the continued delight of TV viewers all over the world. As for the 10,000+ spectators who come to Monaco every year for the race, they are better catered to than those who turned up in 1928: the bars and restaurants are no longer caught unaware, and there’s plenty to eat and drink for everyone!