Published: May 28th 2008May 25th 2008
What do you get when you mix really sexy cars with fabulous Europeans, mega-yachts, the French Riviera, and a lot of screaming testosterone?
I should preface this by stating that regardless of how this is written, it will inevitably come across sounding hoity-toity. For that, I apologize, but who are we kidding... this is the Monaco Grand Prix. The subject matter doesn’t quite lend itself to a humble, penny-pinching, off the beaten track travel narrative.
Formula One racing could quite possibly be the most moneyed sport in the world. And the Monaco Grand Prix is quite definitely the one event of the year that showcases the world’s most moneyed sport best. It’s pretty much glamour, prestige, cha-ching cash, and the kind of scene that makes ghetto rap music video gold-diggers wet themselves, rolled into 78 laps around the flashiest 1.9 square km in the world. I’m sure there are people of all different backgrounds reading this, but I’m also pretty sure that no matter how well you think you have done for yourself so far in life, this crowd is on another level.
One motto Big Sturms has drilled into my head is “Go Big or Go Home.” With
that in mind, we choppered into Monaco from Nice in the morning, arriving well in time for the Renault F3 race and the F1 Drivers Parade before the actual Grand Prix. Unfortunately, (very late) spring showers meant this year the event would sacrifice much of its glamorous aspect, although a ride in a chopper through rain was a different experience. Global warming, go figure. Holding Burberry umbrellas, well-heeled Europeans ran around showcasing their threads under very flattering ponchos. Jeans were rolled up, hair was tied back, leather was wrapped far far away from the looming moisture, unflattering layers were all the rage.
So sure, we were forced to forgo the summer dresses, heels, and wide-brimmed hats. The guys had to save their white linen for the next day in St. Tropez or Cannes. And the harbor was not nearly as beautiful as it would have been had it been flooded with sun. The tourists in us were slightly depressed, but the spectators in us were thrilled with the promise of more crashes, more action, and a better race. Does that make us bad people? C’est la vie.
Our seats were right down the straightaway on the side of
the Monte-Carlo Marina after the cars emerge from the tunnel, which meant we saw a lot of passing... As the cars passed through the marina the engines would roar so loud we had to scream over the noise, they would fade barely and the whines would return as the drivers circled around behind us. And have you ever seen the Friends episode where Joey finds the Porsche keys and proceeds to deck himself out in full leather gear? Well the crowd was full of Joeys for Ferrari. Seas of red Ferrari hats would be occasionally interrupted by the Brit with the McLaren grey and tangerine.
I spent most of the first 20 laps identifying drivers in between too many crashes that were flashing around on the big screen on the other parts of the track. The big Rosberg crash (shame, he was definitely a strapping German lad) happened just at the end of the Marina stretch though, so we were actually able to see that. The cars would race by in the rain and you sometimes literally couldn’t see the cars themselves in some of the kick-up and mist from the wet roads.
In between John scowling at
the Ferrari fan behind him, and later the sweet triumph he experienced when Hamilton won it all, I’d say it was a pretty good time. John has said himself that he has watched the Monaco Grand Prix for more years of his life than he can count, and this one has been hands-down the best one yet. “Tactics, safety cars, crashes, wet and dry roads.” In fact, this race was probably one of the best races in general ever.
Some interesting snippets on the Monaco F1 Grand Prix:
- 78 laps, 19 corners, just 2 miles long
- Monaco is the slowest race on the F1 calendar, average speed being 90 mph, due to the tight nature of the course winding through the streets of the little city
- 20% of lap time spent on the brakes, around 48 gear changes per lap
- A friend of Nick’s was offered a spot on a yacht for 3 days, @ 20,000 Euros. Not to actually park his yacht in the marina, but just to be on one
- Did you know drivers train in the off season by driving on stiff steering wheels with their helmets tied to 100 lb
weights on the sides to condition for the pressure their necks are subjected to during real races?
- Marlboro is the biggest team sponsor at 100m USD for Ferrari
There are more photos below