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Riviera Pebbles Blog: Danger? Pah. Welcome to the 1929 Monaco Grand Prix

Posted on 23rd May 2015 in Muse Mag


Drivers line up in rows of three during the inaugural Monaco Grand Prix

Witnessed Lewis and Nico’s high-octane duel in Monte Carlo? Pah. During the first Monaco Grand Prix in 1929 drivers scorned safety helmets in favour scarves and goggles.

And the safety barriers? They were made of sand bags.

The inaugural race was really a ruse to by Prince Louis II of Monaco to put the Principality on the map. It sure worked.

Pathé Films arrived to cover the event along with journalists from across the continent. Sixteen drivers lined up in three rows opposite the port. There was no Saturday qualifying back then. Grid positions were picked out of a hat, with Britain’s William Grover-Williams in 5th place.

Much has changed since 1929 on the climb up to Casino Square. Spectators sat on bails of hay – not behinds secure grandstands. Racing cars were narrower so the overtaking was feverish, with positions changing every lap. And in place of high rise apartments there were only belle époque villas and lines of palms.

Grover-Williams’ Bugatti T35 slowly pulled through the field. Despite sliding in the harbour (then populated with fishing boats, not superyachts) he kept ahead of arch-rival Rudolf Caracciola in the Mercedes-Benz.

After 100 laps – and nearly four hours in the saddle – the Bugatti took the chequered flag.

The prize? 100,000 French francs. A far cry from Lewis Hamilton’s recent £100 million contract. But it could still land you a week in Nice Pebbles’ Monaco apartment. We’ve called it Bugatti, a name that Grover-Williams would surely approve of.


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