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15 May 2022, Monaco
We all prepare for big days in our own unique ways. Some people have their superstitions. Some folks like to meditate or hang out with friends and family, to keep the nerves at bay. Most drivers have their own special pre-race rituals. Like wearing watches, shoes or helmets that they consider to be lucky. But how does Monaco prepare for its big days? We’re about to find out because it’s race day at the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique.
The sun has already prepared for the big day by illuminating the Circuit de Monaco. The sea has also prepared for the big day by hosting hundreds of boats and yachts. You can see fans looking over the track from their plush decks. The sky too is ready for race day. By merging with the shades of the sea, it has created one big blue backdrop. The perfect canvas for any race. Even the course is dressed for the occasion. Freshly pressed hoardings line the bridges and barriers. The podium stands gleaming behind the pit lane. Then there are the engines purring in the paddock, giving us a sense of what’s to come. As the fans take their place in the stands, their ears are treated to Hymne monégasque, the Monaco national anthem. And like a red-hot carpet, the racetrack awaits its drivers and their cars from 8 different eras. This is how Monaco prepares for its big days.
You’re one with the racetrack
The noise of the car engines is deafening. No earplugs can stop the roars from reaching out and shaking your soul. It’s such an intimate experience. Even if you’re with a group, you feel like you’re one with the Monaco track. As you walk around it, you’ll notice how close you are to some parts of the circuit. Only a few barriers and a sliver of chain links separate you from dizzyingly fast race cars. At one point, near the Piscine, there is no barrier, no fencing, nothing between you and the race cars. From here, you don’t need to be a photographer to get some great shots of the cars going flat out. You could just saunter out onto the track, but that would be a terrible idea. The marshals are always looking out for you, making sure that you’re close enough to the action, without getting dangerously close. It’s quite easy to get carried away when you see race cars an arm’s length away.
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A TAG Heuer Monaco for winning at Monaco
The Grand Prix de Monaco Historique is meant to be convivial. In fact, it’s meant to be more of a show than a race. The real stars are the cars. But when racing drivers see a podium, they can’t help but get their elbows out. And you can see how much it means to pilots like Stuart Hall, the Brit who wins not one but two races. If there is a podium, drivers want the top spot. They want the trophy, they want to hear their anthems being played, they want to experience the thrill of being a part of this historic event. Fair enough, that’s what racing is all about. Who doesn’t love a little competition? Apart from the trophy, the accolades and the anthems, every race winner is presented with a timepiece. And it’s not just any timepiece. We’re giving each of them one new TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf Special Edition. How about that? If that makes every driver on the track uber-competitive, please don’t blame us.
The finish line is just the start
The big day is packed with highlights. Claudia Hürtgen subbing for Alex Birkenstock and winning the race in her Ferrari 246. Stuart Hall’s two gold hauls in Races D and E. There was the moment a famous Monegasque Formula One driver and the great Jackie Ickx took a few vintage Ferraris out for a demonstration run. The fans had their hearts in their mouths for a few seconds when a Race G car scraped against the barriers. It didn’t look good, but the marshals were there instantly. The driver, you’ll be happy to know, is safe and sound. Lotus won first, second and third place in Race G. There’s also a heartwarming moment at the end when the marshals walk out and line the sides of the circuit, waving their yellow, red and green flags, saluting the 22 Race G cars as they warm down after the final racing lap of the day. It’s a lovely touch. And true to its character, Monaco has risen to the occasion. No wonder people want to keep coming back here.
© TAG Heuer
The crowds start leaving the stands unwillingly. You can see from their expressions that they don’t want this Grand Prix to end. Some people head up the elevators, some go to the train station or Nice airport, some back to their hotels. Wherever they’re going, they’ll be taking the memories of this Grand Prix back with them. They’re all going to go home feeling like winners.
Back in the paddock, around the circuit, inside the ambulances, you can see the mechanics, marshals and medics winding down, relieved that their big day has been a success. The streets will open up again in a few hours, the people will go back to their realities and Monaco will once again remember what it’s like to be quiet again.