© ACM / Olivier Caenen
13 May 2022, Monaco
The sun is bearing down on the cool, light blue Mediterranean. It’s 23°C (71.6°F), but it feels more like 30. The wind is still and languid. The smell of scorched rubber hangs in the air. In between moments of silence, you hear the thundering, booming, blustering sounds of race car engines. They’re so loud, you can hear people patiently pausing their conversations and letting the sounds pass before continuing to talk. As if they were rudely interrupting the cars and not the other way around. This is the real gift of Monaco. It doesn’t seem to mind being disrupted by the ear-splitting noise of race cars at full tilt. And only a place that loves motorsport, that treasures history, would lend its soul and its streets to something like the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique.
© ACM / Olivier Caenen
Monaco looks like a beautiful avalanche of pastel-colored baroque buildings that gradually slide towards the azure waters of the Med. As you drive into its charming embrace, your world turns into a technicolor dream. It’s as if a social media filter has been added over your eyes. Today isn’t like any normal day in the life of Monaco. (Are there normal days in Monaco?) It’s the first day of the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique. And as always, the city-state is playing the welcoming host to over 180 magnificent vintage race cars. The mood is electric, it’s as if we’re about to witness a royal wedding between racing fans and race cars. You see it on the retro race posters hanging from the lamp posts. You see it in the narrow, windy streets teeming with locals gossiping about the “Grand Prix that’s as exciting as any other racing event”. You see it in the sun-soaked faces of fans who have made the pilgrimage to this spiritual home of speed.
© TAG Heuer
The race is everywhere
Just when you think it can’t get any better, it does. Look out of your hotel balcony and you see a 1975 Ensign tackle the famous Piscine chicane. Look out from one of the viewing bridges and you’ll see 2 Tyrrells tangling just before Rascasse. Step out of a cafe and you’ll see a Lotus screaming past you in a blur. Walk into the paddock and it’s teeming with hundreds of rare cars, numerous busy mechanics and fans galore. You can lean over and study every single detail of every single car. How the logos evolved over time, how the chassis changed, how the engines purred across every era. It isn’t just a paddock; it’s a portal into multiple decades.
And it isn’t just the automobiles. Look at the wrists of passersby and you’ll spot rare, vintage timepieces. (Yes, there are lots of Heuers!). The scenes are relentless, soul-stirring and unforgettable. The crowds are reeling from the sun, the sound and the fury.
© TAG Heuer
The unsung heroes
It’s 5.45pm. It’s been a hot, humid day but you still see a group of marshals, dressed in heavy safety orange jumpsuits, waving flags, watching over the drivers. You see the doctors and medics viewing the race patiently, hoping nothing goes awry. You see the mechanics tuning, fine tuning, tinkering away at the cars, making sure the drivers get the best out of them, and the fans see something special. These, apart from the cars and the drivers, are the heroes of Grand Prix de Monaco Historique. They’re making this race run like clockwork. They’re looking out for the drivers, for the fans, for the media and for each other. If any Grand Prix is a success, it’s all thanks to them.
Champagne and chicanes
Practice winds down with an exclusive event for the wonderful friends and guests of TAG Heuer. Set in the gorgeous garden of the Hôtel Hermitage, the invitees enjoy a few glasses of champagne, surrounded by the Series E cars still buzzing around the racetrack, adding to the spirit of the evening. The centerpiece of the event is the new TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf Special Edition, setting the pace for a perfect race weekend.
The sun has set. The Mediterranean is lit with yachts and boats. It’s 17°C (62.6°F). The wind is cooler, as if it’s blowing a sigh of relief after a riveting day. The smell of scorched rubber still hangs in the air. And in the distance, from your hotel room, you can still hear the sound of a mechanic tuning, fine tuning, tinkering away at a race car engine. This is the real gift of Monaco. And you should be here to witness it. See you on The Edge tomorrow. Don’t forget to follow our live updates from qualifying and race day.