In April 1929, commercial wealth, vision and influential friends brought about the creation of the Monaco Grand Prix. It’s considered to be the jewel in the crown of Grand Prix racing and one of the ‘triple crown’ of motor sport events (the Indianapolis 500 and the Le Mans 24 Hours being the others). Of all races, the Monaco Grand Prix is ‘the’ race to have won in your motor racing career.
Financed by cigar manufacturer Anthony Noghes and his friends, the inaugural race was run under the auspices of the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM), of which Noghes was president. The ACM already organised the Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo, and in 1928 it applied to the Association Internationale des Automobiles Clubs Reconnus (then the international organising body for motorsport) to hold a Grand Prix. Noghes’ wish was for the ACM to be upgraded from a mere regional club to national status, and thereby run more prestigious races. This was initially denied, Catch 22-fashion, because the club lacked a major motorsport event run within the confines of Monaco’s restricted principality.
In an effort to obtain that national status, Noghes sought the patronage of Prince Louis II and the Monegasque grand prix driver Louis Chiron. The racing driver thought the streets of Monaco would offer an exciting spectacle, given the principality’s tricky winding course including hills, elevations, tight hairpin corners and unsighted brows, which provided a real challenge. Their influence had the desired effect and the Monaco Grand Prix was born.
Come 14 April 1929 the race was on, attracting a multinational field with a particularly large number of Bugatti Type 35s. This is not surprising, because at the time a T35 was almost guaranteed a victory and the winning driver was on the grid in row two in just such a car. Rudolf Caracciola was in fact the favourite of the 16 entrants in his mighty Mercedes-Benz SSK, but it was not to be his – and Germany’s – day. That second-row Bugatti, a T35B, was driven to victory by Englishman William Grover-Williams, whose car was not the usual blue but was instead painted British Racing Green.