The engines’ roar has lured me to Monaco, for the 2018 Grand Prix Historique. The senses have become heightened, not only my hearing but also from the fragrances which have helped me to immerse myself in the atmosphere. The smell of the sea was pleasantly contaminated with the smell of fuel and burned tyres.
This is an event which has existed since 1977 and which, just like a switch, alights memories and nostalgia every couple of years. The streets of Monte Carlo are turned into a racetrack, this is truly outstanding!
It’s a historical track and there aren’t many other opportunities, for these cars and their drivers, to compete on a track which has remained almost unchanged through time. It takes place on the same track used for the F1 GP, but with the charisma of the classic cars. The cars in the race are from different times and they belong to different categories. Here they are, ready to take their place on the starting grid.
This is an out of the ordinary occasion, to touch with your hands “simple” cars, which you don’t see frequently, which have no aerodynamic supports, which make the engines and drivers’ performances stand out. For example, there’s the Maserati 250F, with a 2.5 litre engine which may reach 280 km/h, with drum brakes… the driver needs to think one year in advance of the manoeuvre to adopt.
On the Monaco racetrack, actually, the difference is made by the engine torque, because the numerous bends and 180 degree turns force you to slow down and, at the exit of the (short) straights the car needs to be spritely. I remember the Lotus 18, driven by Stirling Moss, that in 1961 won the Monaco GP, despite the small engine size. The English car had disc brakes and only four cylinders, but great engine torque!
Reality depends on the imagination and today, I press the rewind button and, even if I wasn’t yet born, the tape rewinds and I’m shouting “go Behra!”.
Sun and rain. The smell of classic cars’ interiors, of wet tar, of petrol and burnt rubber, they’re imprinted in memory and they will accompany me for the next two years.
Author and photos: Sebastien Viale
The full ranking of the results is available here.