A Nearly Private Grand Prix

Rudolf Caracciola at Coppa Ciano
When I see images like this one of Rudolf Caracciola in his Mercedes-Benz W154 at the 1938 Copa Ciano, I am both energized by it and saddened.

Imagine the cacophony reverberating off the buildings of this narrow alley in Livorno, Italy. Imagine the show that this handful of people are having as they peer out from entryways and lean out of windows along the Montenero Circuit. It’s almost an intimate moment captured between driver and spectator as Rudolf glances up from his racing line and makes eye contact with a racing fan poking his head out of a doorway.

It’s most noticeable in the restrictions on pit access, but these opportunities for racing driver and enthusiast to connect are just as lost during the race as before and after. The farther and farther we push fans from the action—for good reasons, as Daytona recently pointed out—the more isolated the driver is from the fan.

6 responses to “A Nearly Private Grand Prix”

  1. Peter Linsky says:

    …and on such a narrow, curbed street! Note how close the wheelspin streaks are to the curb – what car control!

  2. Frank Levin says:

    Talk about a street race! Yowee!

  3. Awesome photo – I saw it recently but without any info as to where it was – thanks for filling that in.

  4. Tommy Halligan says:

    Graham Hill interviewed at 1968 Mexico GP said he was not aware of the fans at all ” you don’t notice ’em , don’t see them , maybe in a football stadium , but here ? no “

  5. Francisco José Pellegrino says:

    Fantastic…

  6. Mike Jacobsen says:

    This is a terrific photo which I had not seen; there are a few photos in G. Monkhouse’s books taken from the opposite side of the street. I looked for this street in Livorno in the late 1960s without being sure of it, but after the streets of Monaco nothing can surprise! Most of Livorno’s circuit was wide open; it’s a wonder they used such a street. Thanks for the post!

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