The Dream Grand Prix Location of Monaco

The Grand Prix of Monaco has been around in one form or another since 1929 when Prince Louis II sponsored the event through the Automobile Club of Monaco. The first event was organized by Anthony Noghes, son of the founder of the Club, Alexandre Noghes.

The original intent was for the local rally by the ACM to be granted national status. The application, submitted to the international governing body of motorsport was denied since there was no extant major national event held within the principality of Monaco.

In order to gain status as a national event, Noghes urged the creation of a Grand Prix event located completely within the streets of Monte Carlo. The support of Prince Louis II and the top level driver Louis Chiron, a native of Monaco and a well known driver in the European Grand Prix circuit.

The first national Grand Prix event in Monaco was by invitation only, but some of those invited elected to ignore the competition, including the drivers from Alfa Romeo and Maserati. The Bugatti drivers competed and the leading Mercedes driver Caracciola was a strong competitor, finishing in 2nd place. The race was won by William Grover-Williams driving a Bugatti 35B. Chiron was unable to compete in the first race, but took second place the next year and won the 1931 race. He is the only Monegasque to have won the race.

The Monaco Formula One race is arguably the most prestigious automobile race in the world, ranking beside the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500. Yet the course is impossibly dangerous and difficult to drive. It is unique in that the course has been the same circuit during its entire lifetime.

Preparing the course requires six weeks prior to the race, and removing the race course requires another three weeks. There are tight corners, narrow roads and many changes of elevation. Twice in the history of the race drivers and cars have ended up in the harbor. It is such a demanding course, that if it were not for its venerable history, the race could not be run in the current location due to the safety issues.

Because of the driving skill required and the challenge of the course itself, most drivers feel that a win at Monte Carlo Grand Prix is worth two wins anywhere else. Ayrton Senna holds the record for the most Monte Carlo Grand Prix wins with six. Graham Hill has won the championship five times.

The nature of the course sometimes leads to unexpected results. A prime example is the 1982 race. The first fifteen laps were held by René Arnoux before Alain Prost led until the final 4 laps. He slid on a wet track and lost a wheel when he hit the barriers so that Riccardo Patrese took the lead.

A little more than 2 laps later, Patrese also suffered a spin out so that both Didier Pironi and Andrea de Cesaris were in first and second place respectively. In the final tunnel both these drivers managed to run out of fuel. In the meantime, Patrese had managed to get his car restarted and went on to win the race.