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14th Grand Prix de Monaco Historique: promises kept!

They had to wait two years, but the thousands of nostalgic fans who came to the 14th Grand Prix de Monaco Historique over the weekend were in for a treat: more than 200 gleaming vintage racing cars, in perfect condition and capable of remarkable performances. So many talented drivers, both professional and amateur, and above all a public that was more than ever in attendance, especially women and younger spectators. After the success of the 7th E-Prix at the end of April, the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM) has once again proved that it knows how to organise outstanding motor sport events to perfection.

Cars first. There were over 50 makes represented and Lotus took the lion’s share of the honours, with 3 victories in 8 events on Sunday for the legendary brand founded by Colin Chapman : Andy Middlehurst in the B-Series, at the wheel of a Lotus 25 once driven by Jim Clark; Max Smith-Hilliard in the C-Series, the one for sports cars from the 1950s; and just like the icing on an English cake, Japan’s Katsuoka Kubota in the D-Series, aboard a priceless Lotus 72 which allowed Ronnie Peterson to claim a podium spot at Monaco F1 Grand Prix, in 1973.

And that’s not all. Other legendary makes of motor sport also shone, starting with ERA in the A1 Series, that of pre-war small cars and Grand Prix cars, thanks to an Irishman, Paddins Dowling, who was untouchable throughout the weekend. The same goes for Germany’s Claudia Hürtgen in her Ferrari Dino 246, who finished 20 seconds ahead in the A2 race, early on Sunday morning.


Lotus, McLaren, Hesketh, March on top!

‘Last but not least’, as the English say, on the top of the menu, there were four series for modern or recent F1s, powered by naturally-aspirated V8 or V12 engines, all of which had raced between the end of the 60s and the beginning of the 80s. In F1, these now legendary cars had to make way for turbocharged F1 cars, then hybrid powered F1s. But not in Monaco, where their more powerful heirs are too difficult for amateurs and collectors to drive.

So a Lotus won the D-Series, followed by a McLaren M23 in the E-Series, a Hesketh 308 in the F-Series and a March 821 in the G-Series. Beating a myriad of other brands, such as Ferrari, Williams, Brabham, Tyrrell, Arrows, Shadow, Benetton, etc. Three British brands, with two British drivers, Stuart Hall (2 wins) and Michael Lyons, who were very effective in these single-seaters, all of them built before they were born.

Tributes to Ayrton Senna

On this subject of birth, Hall was born in 1984, the same year when Ayrton Senna appeared in F1, and when his star began to rise during a Monaco Grand Prix that has gone down in history. Senna’s career was the main theme of this weekend like no other, with a parade of his single-seaters on Saturday (Toleman, Lotus, McLaren), then the presence of the Senna family (Bianca, Paola, Bruno) in the paddock and on the princely podium on Sunday, to reward the last winner of the day, Stuart Hall, who left with an original figurine representing the Brazilian champion.

Ayrton Senna, Gilles Villeneuve, Niki Lauda, Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill, Louis Chiron, Juan Manuel Fangio and Vittorio Marzotto are names written in gold letters in the F1 and ACM books. They were mentioned by fans and commentators throughout the weekend, as they were allocated to the eight series of cars, spread in chronological order. With a figurine inspired by comic strip hero “Antoine le Pilote” for each winner on Sunday. In front of a delighted audience.

This is the other lesson to be learned from this 14th edition of Grand Prix de Monaco Historique : classic car racing is no longer the preserve of a minority of older and wealthy fans; it now attracts a younger, more feminine audience, at events that have become great popular festivals. Because there’s noise, fighting on the track, friendly drivers that you can talk to and, above all, racing cars that are works of art. Cars that ordinary people can admire, touch, see and hear, on site or via streaming platforms. With a charm that is unaffected by the passage of time. Quite the opposite, in fact.


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