WHY NOT A GRAND PRIX IN THE PRINCIPALITY OF MONACO?
"For the first time a fast race has just taken place on a race track right in the heart of town. It is the Principality of Monaco with its Grand Prix which has taken this initiative. The race circuit, laid out entirely within the Principality, between Monte-Carlo, the Condamine (Port) and Monaco proper, works out to be just over 3 kilometres. It goes without saying that the track is made up entirely of bends, steep uphlll climbs and fast downhill runs. Any respectable traffic system would have covered the track with <<Danger>> sign posts left, right and centre It is on a 100 laps of this circuit that the first Grand Prix ran..." - - La Vie Automobile, 25 April 1929.
With the Le Mans 24 hour and the Indianapolis 500, the Monte-Carlo Rally and the Monaco Grand Prix constitute two of the four great automobile sports events most known to the world at large.
The smallest European state, after the Vatican City, has seen the efforts and imagination of its leaders well rewarded The appearance of the Monaco Grand prix on international calendars is the undeniable result of a determined sports policy of the Grand Prix's President Anthony Noghes. In fact it all goes back to the mid-twenties, when Antony Noghes and his friends set up the Automobile Club de Monaco, an association which stemmed from the Sport Automobile et Vélocipédique, which itself already goes back as far as the Sport Vélocipédique Monégasque founded in 1890.
In order to expand and be recognised internationally by the A.I.A.C.R. (Association Internationale des Automobiles Clubs... Reconnus), the predecessor of the International Automobile Federation, which similarly retained the real sports authority and rivalled the European record makers, an automobile sports event had to be organised on its own territory. Being a man of action and a passionate sportsman, Anthony Noghes proposed the creation of an Automobile Grand Prix which would take place right in the streets of the Principality. The idea itself was not new since high speed races were already being fought over in towns, notably in the United-States with the trials of Santa Monica or Corona. As soon as he returned to Monaco. Anthony Noghes had to put his idea into action. He obtained the official support of Prince Louis II and when he presented his plans to Louis Chiron, the famous Monegasque racing driver, he too expressed his enthusiasm. After some analysis, one realised that the topography of the place was admirably well suited to setting up a natural race track.
On the 14 April 1929, under the High Patronage of His Sovereign Highness Prince Louis ll, the first Monaco Grand Prix was organised. Sixteen competitors left the start line to carry out 100 laps of the 318 kilometres long circuit. It was Williams in his Bugatti 35 B who brought this first Grand Prix to an average speed of 80.104 kilometres per hour.
Since the launch of the first race, the Principality has known only 14 years without a Grand Prix, namely from 1939 to 1947 and then 1949, 1951, 1953 and 1954. From 1950 onwards the Monaco Grand Prix featured permanently in the calendar of World Champion Racing events, except in 1952 when the organisers decided they preferred "Sports" cars to the single-seater Formula 2 (2 litres) normally retained for the World Championship.
The circuit itself had not undergone any major changes, the length being 3.180 km up until 1950. In 1952 some modifications to the Saint Devote bend led to the shortening of the length of the track to 3.145 km and it was not until 1973 that the layout underwent a change again. It was extended another 135 metres by the addition of a new track along the port, a track which was to join the track of the new pool and which would end in a hairpin bend around the restaurant "La Rascasse". From then on grand stands were reinstalled on the old quay. As the length of each lap was increased, the Grand Prix was shortened to 78 laps. In 1976, the addition of two more zigzags, one at Sainte Devote, the other coming round the La Rascasse hairpin bend, extended the length of each lap by 34 metres. Ten years later, for the 44th Grand Prix, the widening of the road at the beginning of the Quai des Etats Unis at the foot of the Boulevard Louis II descent, allowed the creation of a new zigzag which brought the length of a lap to 3.328 metre.