Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars!
This week’s question: What was noteworthy about the starting lineup of the 1952 Grand Prix de Monaco?
If you think you know the answer, make the jump and see if you’re right!
The Grand Prix, or Grand Prize series is one of auto racing’s oldest. Today we also know it as Formula Racing, the pinnacle of which, Formula One is widely considered to be the preeminent form of motor sport. Grand Prix racing has also long been notable for its cars, typically both open wheel and open cockpit and immediately identifiable as representatives of the class.
The origins of the series can be found in the first organized racing that took place in France just before the turn of the last Century. Races organized by the Automobile Club de France were some of the first to carry Grand Prix in their names and the organization was one of the first to establish rules of competition intended to encourage a competitive field. As automotive technology developed, so too did the rules, specifying engine displacements, outputs, and other criteria to make sure no one team dominated with anything other than driver’s skill and their own ingenuity within the confines of the statutes.
It was in fact a rule change that led to one of the most remarkable Grand Prix events ever to occur, which took place appropriately enough, in France at the 1952 Monaco Grand Prix.
From Monaco-Grand Prix.org:
In 1952, a change of rules stipulate that only cars of more than 2 litres can compete in the ‘Grand Prix de Monaco’, the smaller cars can enter the ‘Grand Prix de Monte Carlo’, which is the Formula 2; this results in the situation that sports cars can run together with Formula 1 cars in the Grand Prix. The A.C.M. chooses this year for the formula ‘Sport’. An incredible array of cars take part with Stagnoli in a Ferrari, Manzon driving a Gordini, Levegh behind the wheel of a Talbot, and Parnell racing an Aston Martin DB3. The Ste-Devote curve is changed reducing the circuit to 3.145 km. Due to the hot June weather, team mechanics have to deal with huge overheating problems. The practice sessions are plagued by accidents, but there is only one casualty; after a heavy crash in his Lancia at the exit of the tunnel, Luigi Fagioli is taken to hospital, where he unfortunately dies three weeks later. Stirling Moss makes his first appearance in Monaco and takes pole position in his Jaguar C type.
Can you imagine a race today pitting Formula One cars against Le Mans-style sports cars? Especially on a street track like Monaco? The end result would mostly likely be a repeat of the accident-filled race of 1952. Still, as long as no one get’s hurt this time, I’d kind of like to see it.