A historic venue
The idea of staging a Grand Prix on the streets of Monaco would be considered ridiculous in this day and age of health and safety, yet the Monte Carlo Grand Prix has been a set fixture on the calendar for many moons and is steeped in history. It is this very rich history that is celebrated every two years during the Monaco Historic Grand Prix run on the same unforgiving streets of the tiny Principality. First held in 1997, the Grand Prix Historique
gives enthusiasts the rare opportunity to see if they can cut the muster on the legendary circuit, often driving the cars their heroes raced in anger many ago. For the 9th edition, cars of up to 1978 were eligible, spread over seven distinct classes, including one for sports cars to commemorate the rare occasion that the Monaco Grand Prix was not run for single seaters. Much more than a side number, RM Auctions also held a headline-grabbing auction in Monaco on the Saturday.
Flanked by the unforgiving barriers on one side and luxurious yachts on the other, our photographers ventured around the streets of Monaco throughout the weekend with this 270-shot gallery
as the result.
RM Auctions Monaco Sale
For the third time, Canadian company RM Auctions held an auction in Monaco, moving to a new venue this year. Located on the eastern edge of the city, Le Sporting
provided RM with a great salesroom while most of the cars were displayed in one of the underground parking lots. With lovely lighting and full size photographs in the background, the RM nevertheless did a great job to show off the cars. This certainly paid off as at EUR 41.3 million, it was the company's best sale in Monaco to date. The top seller was the ninth and arguably most original of the 12 Ferrari 275 GTB/Cs built, which found a new owner for EUR 5.7 million. A close second was another Ferrari, a 250 GT Series 1 Cabriolet at EUR 4.7 million. Another hugely impressive sale was of the Brabham BT20 F1 car, which fetched over EUR 1 million. What certainly will have helped that it was driven to victory at Monaco by Denny Hulme on his way to score the 1967 World Championship. One of the big name cars that failed to find a new owner was the Maserati 450S, which is understood to be a very original car but bidders may have been hesitant because of the three different chassis numbers attributed to it. A full list of results can be found by following the link at the bottom of the article.
Serie A: Pre-War Grand Prix Cars and Voiturettes
A mix of mostly Bugattis and ERAs made up the earliest group of cars out on track this year. Compared to previous editions, the grid in this class was small and among the machines absent was the ex-works ERA R4D that won this race two years ago. The cars that did line up were some of the finest of their type like Martin Halusa's beautifully original Bugatti Type 35C, which only recently returned to Europe after many years in American hands. It is one of the four works cars that competed in the 1927 San Sebastian Grand Prix, although it is yet to be determined which driver was assigned to this specific chassis. Rarer still was the Bugatti Type 39, which was driven over the road to Monaco by British marque expert Timothy Dutton.
Despite the absence of R4D, it was another ERA, piloted by 2012 runner-up Paddins Dowling, which claimed the pole position for the race. The American-based Irishman also immediately grabbed the lead ERA R10B but with Matt Grist in his more powerful but heavier Alfa Romeo Tipo B in hot pursuit. The close fight was eventually settled in Grist's favour, with Dowling finishing second once again.
Serie B: Pre-1961 Formula 1 and Formula 2 cars
With the cut-off for this group at 1961, this group combined the last front-engined with the first mid-engined single seater racers. Fittingly, among the cars entered was the very Ferrari that scored the last Grand Prix win for a front-engined car at Monza in 1960 in the hands of Phil Hill. Surprisingly, it was the front-engined TecMec Maserati driven by Tony Wood that had set the fastest time in qualifying. This one-off machine was built using Maserati 250F mechanicals on a lighter and more sophisticated chassis designed by Valerio Colotti. While it was not particularly successful in period, it has been a regular front-runner in historic racing. Placed second on the grid was 2012 winner Roger Wills in the mid-engined, ex-Bruce McLaren Cooper T51. After two aborted starts, it proved third time lucky for Wills as he had the best start and came out of the first corner in the lead, which he would not give up. Behind him, the rise up the ranks of Frank Stippler in Jos Koster's Maserati 250F 'Piccolo' was very impressive. He had set only a few laps in qualifying due to brake issues but had no such problems during the race. After a hard fight with Wood, the Audi works driver eventually finished the race in second, while Wood finished third.
Serie C: 1952 - 1955 Sports Cars
Even though sports cars only substituted for Grand Prix racers during the Monaco Grand Prix in 1952, the cut-off date this year was moved to 1955 to create a more diverse field. Among the cars that were not seen during the Historic Grand Prix in previous editions were machines like Jaguar D-Types, Maserati 300Ss and Ferrari 500 Mondials. Also strongly represented on the grid were cycle-fendered Frazer Nashes, including a rare High Speed and several examples of the subsequent Mk1 and Mk2 Le Mans Replicas. Despite the fact that more modern cars were now eligible, it was still 2012 winner Alex Buncombe, who proved fastest of all in the Jaguar Heritage Racing C-Type. He was nearly three seconds faster than previous winner John Ure in his Cooper T24 Bristol while Gavin Pickering was a very distant third a further four seconds a lap slower in qualifying. Buncombe made no mistake in the race and scored a well deserved win, while Ure placed second. The fight for third was much closer and eventually it was Frederic Wakeman who claimed the final spot on the podium in his Jaguar-engined Cooper T38.
Serie D: 1961 - 1965 1500 cc Formula 1 cars
Powered by diminutive, high revving engines, the first half of the 1960s featured some of the most delicate Grand Prix cars of all time. Ferrari provided the only real opposition to the British Lotus and BRM teams, using V6, V8 and even flat-12 engines, winning the championship in 1961 and 1964. Thanks to current custodian Lawrence Auriana, one of the flat-12 engined Ferrari 1512 F1s has been returned to full running order. Engine issues prevented the car from running properly in 2012 but it was now almost on full song, propelling driver Joe Colasacco to second on the grid. He was eclipsed only by Andy Middlehurst in the exquisite Lotus 25 Climax, which scored no fewer than seven Grand Prix victories in the hands of the great Jimmy Clark. Sadly Colassaco was robbed off a chance to challenge Middlehurst in the race as he lost the vital second and third gears very early on. It was doubtful wether he could have matched the pace of Middlehurst, who drove the nimble Lotus fast but very cleanly. A distant second in the race was Sid Hoole, in the Cooper T66 Climax he has campaigned for many years, while Tommasso Gelmini was third in the rare BRM-engined Scirocco.
Serie E: 1966 - 1972 Formula 1 Cars
One of the most hotly disputed races was for the cars from the early three-litre era, which saw the introduction of wings, which was very well represented by the wingless Eagle Mk1 Climax from 1966 on the one hand and the fleet of fully decked out racers from the early 1970s. Among the participants was the Historic Grand Prix record holder Duncan Dayton with 11 victories. He does not race nearly as much as he did a few years ago but was still among the fastest in his ever striking Brabham BT33. One of the few non-Cosworth powered drivers was seasoned racer and preparer Rob Hall, who surprisingly made his debut at Monaco behind the wheel of a Matra MS120 equipped with a howling V12. Starting third and fifth on the grid, Hall and Dayton were actually involved a near race-long battle for second, eventually settled in favour of the latter. Neither could match Katsu Kubota in his Lotus 72 Cosworth, who started from pole and claimed the win. We were told by one of our Japanese friends that 'Katsu' fittingly translates to 'victory'. Unfortunately, this group also saw some of the biggest crashes of the weekend with John Goodman heavily damaging his ex-Jackie Ickx Ferrari 312 B2 on the start-finish 'straight'.
Serie F: 1973 - 1978 Formula 1 Cars
The quickest and most modern machines on track were found in this group, which featured over 35 entries, while in period the grid was usually limited to just 20 or 22 cars. Cosworth-engined machines also dominated in numbers with the rare exceptions being Manfredo Rossi's recently re-acquired Alfa Romeo-equipped Brabham BT45 and Chris MacAllister's ex-Niki Lauda Ferrari 312 T2. The first of the two qualifying sessions was thwarted by another Ferrari, which dropped oil all over the track on his out-lap. Later in the day, it was 2012 winner Michael Lyons, who made the most of the second opportunity and claimed pole position in his father's Hesketh 308E ahead of Sam Hancock in a Fittipaldi and Charlie Nearburg in a March 761B. Placing eighth, Rossi was the fastest non-DFV powered driver, a full eight seconds behind Lyons. Stalling on the grid, Hancock caused the first start to be abandoned. He could eventually rejoin dead last and fought his way back up the order to finish seventh. Lyons kept his head cool and at the second attempt immediately grabbed the lead and never looked back. After a brief fight with Nick Padmore in the Wolf-liveried Williams FW05, Nearburg managed to clinch a distant second just ahead of Padmore. The race sadly finished behind the safety car after Serie E winner Katsu Kubota hit the barrier going into the casino square.
Serie G: 1974 - 1978 Formula 3 cars
As in 2012, two-litre Formula 3 cars made up the final grid of the event. This time, however, the focus was on the very first generation of these machines as raced between 1974 and 1978. This brought some much needed variety to the field as the later era was absolutely dominated by the ground-effect Ralt RT3s. Among the colourful entries in this massive field were quite a good number of Chevrons, Marches and Ralts but also rarer machines like an Argo, a pair of Moduses and one of only three Osella F3 cars built. The most famous name on the entry list was that of former professional racer turned TV presenter Tiff Needell, who was entrusted with the Chevron owned by his former team-mate Eje Elgh. Using a Ralt RT1, it was David Shaw who ended up fastest of all in qualifying, narrowly pipping 1985 Le Mans winner Paolo Barilla in his Chevron B34, while Needell was fourth on the grid during his first outing at Monaco since 1991. Shaw sadly had to retire from the race, paving the way for Barilla to claim victory ahead of Valerio Leone in a March and Oliver Hancock in a Lola.
For many more reasons than one, Monaco is a unique venue. Among them is that it is one of the very few truly unforgiving circuits still used today. Unfortunately more drivers than they bargained for found out just how unforgiving, resulting in quite a few crashes. All drivers did manage to walk away, usually with only their egos and wallets bruised. This did not detract from the racing, which was often very thrilling, certainly at the sharp end of each of the fields. Our complete impression of the event can be found in this class-by-class, 270-shot gallery