High Flying Formula Vee Action

Nick Brittan takes the road less traveled at the 1967 Monaco GP support race

You’ve heard me extoll the virtues of the Formula Vee racing class. I adore it for it’s simplicity: A stock VW Beetle front beam; a 1200 cc Beetle engine; and a stockish tranny. How could that not be a good time? On top of that, the grids for the vintage Vees tends to be a good spot for tight racing with skilled drafts and dramatic overtakes.

Compared to this image from the support race for the 1967 Monaco GP, though, today’s Formula Vee races are positively tame. Apparently the rough and tumble formula vee racers weren’t a great cultural match with the champagne sipping Auto Club Monaco crowd and went on to prove it by opening their event with the bumping and pushing that you might expect of the unwashed.

This shot of Nick Brittan’s rather unconventional overtake near the yacht harbor chicane really probably didn’t do much to improve their reputation in the principality as evidenced by this bit from the Motoring News GP Report: “The Formula Vee race opened proceedings and proved only that such unstable cars should not be allowed near a race track. The only British driver involved, Nick Brittan, arrived at the chicane on his first lap to find a French-driven car sideways on in front of him; he hit it and rolled, falling back on his wheels, fortunately with no personal damage.”

More history of Formula Vee at Volkswagen Motorsport.

1961 Formula Junior at Monaco

Our earlier post about the ex-Team Tyrell championship winning 1961 Cooper T56 for sale had me wanting to see her in action. If you can find Tony Maggs’ Cooper in this very brief clip of a 1961 Monaco Formula Junior race, then you have better eyes than me. The car would have been wearing number 126 for the event.

Onboard with Fangio at Monaco

These weren’t little GoPros hanging off of the Maestro’s Lancia. Each of these cameras had to be loaded with film, started up, and run a few laps. Then they had to do it again and again so that you don’t see the giant camera in the other angles. It’s easy to dismiss the complexity of these earlier onboard films when we can easily toss a half-dozen or more digital video cameras on a car at every possible angle. It’s part of what makes early onboard footage so precious.

Looking through the slow motion montages in this clip, I have to believe it was part of the inspiration for Saul Bass’s racing sequences in Grand Prix.

via Retro Formula 1

Pioneers in Racing Air Conditioning

Driving Styles at Monaco. 1955.

Scenes from the 1929 Monaco Grand Prix

A Bit of a Wiggle-Woggle

Graham Hill on the “Proper Road Race”

Two Views of Monaco ’55

Here’s two fantastic visions of the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix. One is a news blurb style recap in color(!), with a focus on Moss and Fangio’s Mercedes team. I quite like the shot of the pack on the far side of the track, weaving through the Monte Carlo streets. It’s a view we don’t often see of the races today with cameras on every corner of the track. Somehow, seeing the cars in the distance like this makes it feel more like you’re there than seeing every straight and turn.

The other, a home movie shot on grainy 8mm. I can tell you which one I like better. Can you believe how close to the track you were able to stand, filming away happily while these shiny rockets screamed past, narrowly avoiding lamp-posts and curbs? The closeness and immediacy of the home movie displayed below really puts you on the sidewalks of Monte Carlo, as if you briefly glanced over at the passing racing cars on your way into Hermés. It is footage like this that keeps Monaco on the calendar today. Even if huge portions of the romance are gone, Monaco is still magic.

Tyrrel P34 On-board at the ’76 Monaco GP