Breaking the Bank at Monte Carlo

So the dust has started to settle over Monaco.  The entries are now out for the latest version of the Grand Prix Historique taking place over the weekend of May 11-12.  This year the event is two weeks before the modern F1 circus rolls into town.  I for one welcome that change as at least they will not be throwing us out of the pit garages before the race has ended.  That is exactly what happened to me in 2004 – I returned from minor triumph in the race to find all my gear had been bundled up and put in the back of a Transit van at the back of the paddock!!  Poor show all round I must say.

Anyway, enough of the whinging.  The good news is that both the Ecurie Scalpel cars have received entries.  That means that I will have the Huffaker out first in the Formula Junior race for front-engined cars and the Surtees TS9B in the race for the pre-1975 Formula One cars.  Even though I dare not bring my self to think of the costs involved – over £5K for the entries alone – this is such a wonderful track that the opportunity cannot be missed.

I say “a wonderful track” because it truly is unique – challenging and claustrophobic that it is.  The event itself however is another thing because the authorities over there are not very interested in public relations in my experience.  It is interesting to compare the two gilded events in the historic calendar – Monaco and the Goodwood Revival.  As a race meeting the Monaco event is the better of the two without any doubt.  The races are serious events with closely matched cars driven by serious folks for the most part.  The track is ideal for such racing and the events come thick and fast with little messing about.

Goodwood on the other hand is a different event in many respects.  There is much to engage the enthusiast over the entire weekend.  Indeed, it would be quite possible to miss the racing all together if that took your fancy.  The biggest problem for the driver at the Revival is the tremendous amount of waiting around – unless of course you have several cars racing.  Oh and by the way – through the generosity of Lord March and his sponsors, the entries are free!!

Overall I think they are both wonderful events and as I cannot make the Revival this year I am thrilled to have Monaco as the highlight of the season.  Or at least I hope so anyway!  I think the Huffaker should be competitive in the Junior race but one never knows and I do hope that all the cars will be period correct.  The short-stroke BMC engine is banned for this year, which is just as well as I don’t have one.  Last time we were there the car performed really well but things don’t stand still in historic racing so I expect there will be many faster cars around this time.

And the Surtees?  Well that event is full of serious hot shoes who definitely mean business.  If I make it back safely with both car and driver intact I will consider that a result.  I have never driven a proper F1 car around there and so in the box ticking business it was a must.  The car itself has been there several times before – including in 1972 when it was driven to seventh place by Andrea De Adamich.  In recent years, it was driven by Peter Austen who owned the car before me.

So it is all hands to the deck then to make sure the cars are ready in time.  I am delighted that the Lyons family entry was all accepted – Judy in my race with Frank and Mick in the post-’75 race.

And how could we forget that Scalpel racer Simon Diffey has been allowed in the tradesman’s entrance with the Morley’s Cooper-MG for the sportscar event.  Alongside all the posh Ferraris and Porsches he will undoubtedly put on a good show and embarrass a few people with much more glamorous cars. 

Roll on May!  With the budgets involved it is definitely Monte Carlo AND Bust!


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