That most compelling race, the Monaco Grand Prix, will be with us once again shortly, one third of the Triple Crown of Motorsport (24 Heures du Mans and Indianapolis 500, the other two of course). And this year we celebrate the 90th anniversary of its inauguration, first won by William Grover-Williams driving a Bugatti Type 35B (‘supercharged’) in 1929. [For those lucky enough to be in the Pall Mall clubhouse just last November, we hosted a superb ‘Type 35-Grand Prix’ model.] Considered an amazing feat at the time to put on such a race in the tiny principality, it elevated the Automobile Club de Monaco from regional to international motoring status.
A singular race rarely attracts the coverage of multi-volume sets. Monaco naturally enough is one of them, amply demonstrated by Le Grand Prix automobile de Monaco – in French mainly with an English summary volume, excellently translated; a comprehensive five volumes (5th vol. is the translation), race-by-race history covering the formation to the book’s publication date: individual captions for the full line-up of each year’s race is a particularly fine feature and rarely found elsewhere in the motor sport canon.
David Hodges’ book, on the other hand, is a useful, quick, but dated guide. Naquin’s carefully crafted, handsomely mounted, limited edition is chock-full of evocative photography and sits comfortably side-by-side with its matter-of-fact notations. Monaco, always stunning to look at, the leading artist Michael Turner is compiled finely in David Waldron’s chronological treatment; Turner’s splendid colour/black and white drawings really evoke the race’s unique atmosphere.
Some years back in this column, I looked at this race; since then, the Library has deepened his holdings. We’ve acquired Schlegelmilch’s and Lehbrink’s excellent multi-lingual volume, 20 years old now but handsome in its mounting, well organised, and with some splendid A3+-sized photographs. And in celebrating the 80th anniversary, Crouse’s book on all its posters to publication is a fine, slim volume with good reproductions and a short summary of the race that year. And now right up to date we Malcolm Folley’s book, an in-depth textual investigation into the race’s organisation and what it’s like to drive on such a remarkable circuit.
Overall then we hold visual treats and workman-like narratives as we continue to revel in the drivers’ ultimate challenge.
Christian Moity, co-written with Christophe Montariol, Gérard Flocon; translated by David Waldron, 1996. Le Grand Prix Automobile de Monaco (5 vols.). Besançon, France: Éditions d’Art, J.P. Barthelemy.
David Hodges, 1964. The Monaco Grand Prix. London: Temple Press.
Yves Naquin, 1989. Le Grand Prix Automobile de Monaco: story of a legend, 1929-1960. Monaco: Éditions Automobilia.
David Waldron, 1995. Grand Prix de Monaco: le regard de Michael Turner. Besançon: Éditions D’Art, J. P. Barthelemy.
Rainer W. Schlegemilch and Hartmut Lehbrink, 1998. Grand Prix de Monaco: profile of a legend. Köln: Könemann.
William W. Crouse, 2009. Grand Prix Automobile de Monaco posters: the complete collection: the art, the artists and the competition, 1929-2009. New York: W. W. Crouse.
Malcolm Folley, 2017. Monaco: inside F1’s greatest race. London: Century.