The Happy Monégasque

03 November 2022

Mario Andretti once said, ‘There’s something special about racing in real streets. The artificial circuits have a sameness to them. But every race conducted on real streets has a character of its own.

He, of course, was referring to Circuit de Monaco. That incredible circuit on the French Riviera, with the famous tunnel the hairpins before the marina allowing a minimal opportunity to overtake, is often referred to as the jewel in the crown by the travelling circus known as F1 racing.

The GP de Monaco was initiated in 1929, making it one of Europe’s oldest major racing events. The French GP hosted the first-ever motor race in 1906, the first international event ever to be labelled Grand Prix.

Following the death of Prince Louis II of Monaco in 1949, Monaco faced financial ruin. Also, the Principalities’ income plummeted by 75% with the advent of new gambling resorts such as Las Vegas, where the more relaxed atmosphere and ‘lively’ nightlife became more attractive than the somewhat old-fashioned modus operandi in the sovereign country of Monaco.

On the 21 May 1950, due mainly to Prince Ranier III and a hefty slice of cash from Greek shipping billionaire Aristotle Onassis the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix, formally titled the Prix de Monte-Carlo et XIe Grand Prix Automobile, decided to anew the spectacle of Formula 1.

Monaco’s state bank balance soared, the motor race is probably the best known worldwide, and the Monégasque populous lived happily ever after.