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  • Gentlemen

  • Start your engines

  • In the wide world of car-racing,

  • there's a feat called theTriple Crown”.

  • It's when a driver wins the sport's three most prestigious races.

  • And only one has ever done it

  • a British driver named Graham Hill.

  • In 1972 he won the 24-hours of Le Mans race, in France,

  • the country that invented the first self-propelled vehicle.

  • In 1966, Hill won the Indianapolis 500 in the American midwest.

  • Home to the world's biggest car companies.

  • But the third leg of the Triple Crown isn't in a place known for making cars.

  • In fact, it's in a country that's impossible to see on this map.

  • It spans only 499 acres.

  • And only 39,000 people live there.

  • Yet, its home to the most important of the Triple Crown races:

  • The most picturesque road race

  • The most glamorous, most demanding circuit

  • Perhaps the most difficult

  • The Monaco

  • The Monaco” “The Monaco

  • The Monaco Grand Prix.”

  • It's 78 laps around a course unlike any other on earth.

  • Where some of car-racing's greatest moments have happened.

  • Graham Hill, despite being the only Triple Crown Winner ever,

  • is nicknamed Mr. Monaco because he won this race 5-times.

  • So, how did tiny Monaco create the world's most prestigious car race?

  • Monaco is the world's second smallest country, spanning just 2.2 square kilometers.

  • In 1297, the Grimaldi's, a prominent Italian family,

  • seized this area, called theRock of Monaco”, from a rival family.

  • But over the centuries, it was controlled by

  • the Spanish, the Sardinians, and the French.

  • In 1861, the French finally recognized its sovereignty with a treaty,

  • keeping the Grimaldis in power as monarchs.

  • Around this same time, the gas-powered automobile was invented.

  • And in a few decades, Europeans were obsessed with racing them.

  • Car manufacturers, like Mercedes, Bugatti, and Peugeot

  • would pitch their fastest models against each other.

  • And countries began hosting national races, called the Grand Prix.

  • In the 1920s, the Automobile Club de Monaco set out to create their own Grand Prix.

  • They already hosted the Monte Carlo Rally

  • where drivers would begin all over Europe and finish in the heart of Monaco,

  • called Monte Carlo.

  • But when the club tried to make that race the Monaco Grand Prix, they were denied.

  • International rules held that a country's Grand Prix course

  • had to exist entirely inside its borders.

  • Easy for most, but a serious challenge for tiny Monaco.

  • So they used all the space they had,

  • thereby creating one of the world's most unusual courses.

  • Most Grand Prix courses were set in the countryside, on roads built just for racing.

  • But Monaco's course ran right through downtown Monte Carlo,

  • on regular streets, up a cliff, under a tunnel, and just feet from the harbor.

  • Most Grand Prix courses included long straight-aways

  • where drivers could use speed to overtake each other.

  • And wide corners, with run-off space where they could pass each other.

  • But, the Monaco course had very short straight-aways and the corners were perilously narrow,

  • meaning attempting a pass here meant risking a crash.

  • This generated a new style of racing.

  • Where having the fastest car wasn't as important as

  • having the most skilled, and daring, driver.

  • The first race, in 1929, was a success.

  • And in the following decades, the Monaco Grand Prix

  • became part of the prominent Formula 1 league

  • and known for generating some of the sport's most dramatic moments.

  • In 1955, Italian driver Alberto Ascari was leading the race

  • until he flew off the road and into the harbor, here.

  • A spot where many dreams would come to an end.

  • In 1970, Australian Jack Brabham was winning

  • until he crashed here, on the final corner on the final lap.

  • And in 1982, catastrophe struck five drivers in the final three laps.

  • Starting with Alain Prost, at the harbor.

  • And as Prost goes into the tunnel, he is now..."

  • "...on his way to his sixth Grand Prix victory…”

  • “...And there goes Prost!”

  • Then Riccardo Patrese, at the hairpin turn.

  • Well Riccardo Patrese has all the pressure off,

  • he's only got to cruise round…”

  • He's sliding and he's lost it!”

  • Then it was Didier Pironi's turn, in the tunnel.

  • No hope of catching Pironi, he's into the tunnel for the las—”

  • Is that Pironi stationary? It is! My goodness!”

  • He must've run out of petrol.”

  • And Andrea di Cesaris, at the Casino.

  • And there is diCesaris's car!”

  • And finally, Derek Daly, just a couple hundreds meters from the finish line

  • And now there is Derek Daly coasting to a standstill.”

  • This is unbelievable.”

  • And now Patrese is coming in to win.”

  • But while this course was unique in the sport,

  • it alone didn't make the Monaco Grand Prix famous.

  • It got help from the people watching here.

  • And to understand how they got there, we need to talk about taxes.

  • Remember that treaty, in 1861, where the French recognized Monaco's sovereignty?

  • Well it actually came at a pretty steep price.

  • Previously, Monaco included all of this area,

  • where citrus farms brought in most of the country's revenue.

  • But in 1848, the people here rebelled against the Grimaldi's,

  • partly because taxes were so high.

  • So to save their kingdom, the Grimaldi's signed that treaty,

  • giving France all this territory in exchange for

  • their sovereignty and $4 million francs.

  • But it left Monaco tiny and broke.

  • To bring in money, the Grimaldi's hatched a plan

  • to offer Europeans something they couldn't get at home.

  • At the time, many countries were passing laws that restricted gambling.

  • So, the Grimaldi's had a casino built

  • eventually named the Casino de Monte Carlo.

  • It struggled at first, but when a railroad was built connecting it to France, it boomed.

  • By 1869, the casino brought in so much revenue

  • that the Grimaldi's stopped collecting taxes from its citizens.

  • This was another opportunity to offer Europeans something they couldn't get elsewhere.

  • Tax rates were rising in most European countries, especially on the rich.

  • Monaco offered them a place to stash their fortunes.

  • It made itself a tax-haven.

  • Europe's wealthiest people flocked to Monaco.

  • They built luxury hotels, theaters, and mansions.

  • And brought their yachts

  • and of course, their fancy cars.

  • Before long, celebrities joined their lavish parties.

  • The tiny country entered the world's spotlight when

  • famous actress Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier Grimaldi III in 1956.

  • Today, out of a population of 39,000 people, a third are millionaires.

  • But only about 9,000 are native Monégasques.

  • Meaning, the rest are foreigners, here to enjoy the low-taxes and the parties.

  • The biggest of the year is the Grand Prix.

  • In the sparkling waters of Monte Carlo,”

  • the wealthy unemployed relax in those rich, peaceful surroundings

  • But for one day in the year, that gilt-edged peace is threatened

  • Throughout the weekend, lavish parties attract the rich and famous,

  • who attract the press and therefore, the spotlight to Monaco.

  • And they watched the race from the best seats,

  • here, on the yachts, just a few feet from the course.

  • They turned the Monaco Grand Prix into a world-wide spectacle

  • and car-racing's most prestigious event.

  • With its hazardous twisting course,”

  • the Monaco Grand Prix is known as 'the race of 1,000 corners.'”

  • Brazillian driver Nelson Piquet used to say

  • the Monaco Grand Prix was likecycling around your living room.”

  • Meaning, it's too tight.

  • In the last 90 years, the course has only changed in minor ways.

  • In fact, if the course was designed today, it wouldn't pass Formula 1's safety standards.

  • Because the cars have completely transformed.

  • When William Grover-Williams won the first Monaco Grand Prix,

  • his French Bugatti averaged 84km/hour to set a lap record.

  • In 2018, Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen set a new record averaging 150km/hour.

  • And he drove a car more than twice the size.

  • Overtaking on Monaco's narrow streets was difficult in the early 20th century.

  • But it's nearly impossible now.

  • In the past 16 races, the car that's started at the front of the race

  • has gone on to win 12 times.

  • It's why some consider the Monaco Grand Prix boring to watch

  • Even, occasionally, the drivers.

  • Yet after almost 100 years of racing drama, in front of the world's most famous audience,

  • the Monaco Grand Prix remains the world's most renowned car-race.

  • As Piquet would continue to say

  • “... but winning here is worth winning twice anywhere else.”

Gentlemen

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Why the world's most famous car race is in Monaco

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    joey joey posted on 2021/05/21
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