The Monaco sunshine is bearing down a little hard today at the Monaco Historique, so we popped into the shade of the Credit Suisse Drivers’ Club to hear an esteemed racing quartet tell some marvellous Monaco tales.
“I kept thinking lap-after-lap I wish this thing would blow up so I can stop.” After a while it did me the favour…”
‘It’s like rally driving in a way’ begins Goodwood favourite Mass when asked his impression of driving the tight, awkward circuit at Monaco. ‘You don’t really see the barriers… you feel their presence very very close to you.’ Sir Stirling, on form as ever, recalled racing here once and spotting a very pretty girl at Massanet who wore a particularly fetching shade of ‘pale pink lipstick’. He blew her a kiss every lap… and won the race! The room rocked with laughter.
More merriment ensued when Mass was asked about the more scary moments of his career. He told of racing at LeMans in 1972 in a Capri. ‘We were doing 270 (kph) on the Mulsanne when the prototypes were hitting 350. I was living in my mirrors trying to stay out of the way of them. It was terrifying. I kept thinking lap-after-lap “oh I just wish this thing would blow up so I can stop.” Anyway, after a while it did me the favour of blowing up. So I parked it, walked back to the pits, and told the team; it’s broken!’
LeMans legend Derek Bell spoke fondly of the Sebring 12 hour race and how, due to the roughness of the surface it was as tough to complete as LeMans. Works Porsche driver Dumas, who until this event has never raced at Monaco, agreed and stated that the surface isn’t much better today, but that the atmosphere there is something he relishes.
Asked about modern F1 the foursome agreed that the racing itself is actually quite good, although each was less-enamoured of the principal of a racing driver having to regularly back-off to conserve fuel. ‘I understand why they’re trying to make the cars use less fuel’ says Bell, but these are racing drivers, and they should be racing. Besides, a Jumbo Jet burns as much fuel in one trans-Atlantic crossing as the whole of F1 burns in a season…’
Vintage memories… and the event has hardly begun!