May is the month for the Monaco Grand Prix. This is one of three races around the world that constitutes the Triple Crown of Motorsports. The other two are the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Monaco Grand Prix is a spectacular event that is unique in so many ways. It began in 1929 and is comprised of roadways in Monte Carlo and La Condamine. Many spectators view the race from yachts on the harbor and the racing scene extends well into the night with glamorous all night partying.
Its tight turns and tunnel force drivers to shift more than 50 times in a single lap. This is why pit strategy becomes so important in this race. It’s not just about the power of the car or even the acumen of the driver; the pit crew can make or break who crosses with the checkered flag.
In the earlier years of the race, safety regulations were not in place and it was common for drivers to run into walls, buildings, and even a couple of them landed in the Mediterranean. Today’s race is still wild and crazy, but much less likely to take out competitors or spectators. The tunnel is said to be one of the biggest challenges for the racers because of having to quickly adjust to the change in brightness as they enter and leave one of the fastest parts of the circuit.
51 drivers have died driving Formula One races; only one at the Monaco Grand Prix. Seasoned Formula One race car driver, Lorenzo Bandini, led the 1967 race for the first 82 laps. This was his first race of the season and he was in the best shape of his life. As he entered the harbour chicane, he lost control of his Ferrari. As the car rolled, it burst into flames and Bandini was trapped inside for four minutes before the marshals were able to free him from his car. More than 70% of his body was covered in 1st degree burns and 3 days later, he passed away. Every year, fewer and fewer drivers are injured or killed, but we will always mourn the loss of those who passed while living their passions.
Racing continues to be a thrilling sport and demands a huge physical prowess from its drivers, but it also requires the ability to think quickly, anticipate on many levels, and see the big picture in ways that most of us cannot. Fear is not an option and at the first sight, that is the time for a driver to step away from his or her racing career.
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