From the Bookshelf: The World's Most Famous Rally

Some great rally events were recently celebrated at the HERO Cup Awards. [Motoring Bulletin report, Jan. 19] And the first stage of this year’s world rally championship has just taken place at Monte Carlo. [Winners: Ogier & Ingrassia, Citroën C3 WRC]

The history of the Monte Carlo Rally is long and illustrious. The best summary of the last century is undoubtedly the hefty bilingual tome from Maurice Louche, written in collaboration with the Automobile-Club de Monaco and packed with numerous, fine photographs. Louche makes a bit of a speciality of documenting the history of major automobile events having written on the French Automobile Tour and on Mont Ventoux among others; he’s also penned the fine ‘Émotion’ series including marques such as Alpine, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Porsche.

And a brand new publication which the Club Library has just acquired is another sizeable contribution to the rally’s history: the mid-term part that Porsche has played in the rally’s peerless longevity. This time co-authored by Louche (with Dasse), it documents the Porsche Team’s participation in the rally which began with the 356 model in 1952. Many other models followed until 1982 when the new FIA groups, ‘N’, ‘A’, and ‘B’ were instituted (replacing Group 4 cars). It’s a detailed examination of the lengths gone to by Porsche in achieving mixed success among the many and various handicaps and coefficients – to ‘even out’ every car’s chance – prevalent at the time.

The remaining selection is rather dated but piquant in some aspect or other. A slim no-nonsense history, with rally results, prize winners’ lists, and regulations nicely tabulated, is Michael Frostick’s effort. While in view of the romance of the final destination – when there were so many starting points from all around Europe in early years – this rally attracts a good sprinkling of the informed literati. Russell Lowry’s fine pencil drawings hint amusingly at the ‘hard labour’ to come. H. E. Symons’ ‘openly subjective’ account of the ‘great adventure that is the Monte Carlo Rally’ is a good rendition of its pre-war years. And Mike Couper, a successful businessman reveals in a business-like manner how his leisure time has been expended by the Monte.

Its original purpose, geographical spread, and cachet may have diminished – but the name still stirs the heart.

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Maurice Louche, 2001. Le Rallye Monte-Carlo au XXe siècle, 1911-2000. Alleins, France: Maurice Louche.
Patrick Dasse & Maurice Louche, 2018. Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo, Porsche, 1952-1967; 1968-1982 (2 vols.). Hamburg: Dingwort Verlag.
Michael Frostick, 1963. A history of the Monte Carlo Rally. London: Hamish Hamilton.
Russell Lowry, 1950. Monte Carlo Rally. London: G. T. Foulis & Co.
H. E. Symons, 1936. Monte Carlo Rally. London: Methuen & Co.
Mike Couper, 1956. Rallying to Monte Carlo. London: Ian Allan.

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