Stirling Moss in a Ferguson… Sixty 3-litre Formula One cars… A host of Formula Juniors…
Just some reasons to make the trip to Monaco. By Paul Lawrence
The weekend before the contemporary Monaco Grand Prix, the most famous street circuit in the world will echo to the sounds of cars from across the venue’s 77-year history. After qualifying sessions on Saturday May 20, the seven races will run throughout Sunday.
The wildly oversubscribed entry list features top drivers, well-known cars and other machinery recommissioned solely for an event which offers the setting, glamour and atmosphere of the modern Grand Prix but without the crowding and excessive restrictions.
To see ERAs, Maseratis, Coopers, Ferraris and Tyrrells sliding through Casino Square, plunging down to Mirabeau and blasting out of the tunnel is to experience a very special part of motor racing’s living heritage.
Such has been the demand for places on the grid of 3-litre F1 cars — there are nearly 60 entered! — that the Automobile Club de Monaco has taken the unprecedented step of splitting the field into two races, with a cut at 1975.
The race meeting is designed to celebrate the full history of the Monaco GP, and so the earliest cars in the pre-war Voiturette and Grand Prix car race date back to the late 1920s. With ERA R9B no longer in the hands of 2004 winner John Ure, the way is open for the Maserati and Bugatti pack to pounce. Stefan Schollwoeck’s Maserati 6CM will start as favourite.
In 2004 Duncan Dayton took two victories back to the USA, the first at the wheel of his Lotus 16 after seeing off the challenge of the similar car of Joaquin Folch. That contest will be rejoined in the Pre-61 Grand Prix car race, where Stirling Moss will return to the scene of one of his most famous wins back in 1961. This time Moss will race the Ferguson P99 for the first time in four decades. A gaggle of five Maserati 250Fs will grace the grid, but Barrie Baxter’s TecMec variation on the theme could be faster than the original cars.
The only non-single-seater race is for Pre-53 Sportscars, with Jaguar C-types and Ferraris to the fore. Bruce McCaw’s mighty Mercedes 300SL and the nimble BMW 328 of David Franklin could also feature.
A fabulous rear-engined Formula Junior field is packed with potential winners, all hoping to topple the Stanguellini of 2004 victor Joe Colasacco. Just as competitive will be the Pre-66 Grand Prix car race. Dayton will be aiming for another win in his Brabham BT11 but faces street circuit ace Michael Schryver’s Lotus 18, Brian Redman (Scirocco) and Monaco resident Frank Sytner in a Lotus 24.
Dayton (Brabham BT33) and Folch (McLaren M23) head the Pre-75 F1 grid, but the real dark horse could be Monaco debutant James Hanson in his Surtees TS9B.
Finally, Martin Stretton (Tyrrell P34) and Sytner (Penske PC3) will go head to head in the 1975-78 F1 contest, which includes no less than four Ferraris.