A spectacular stream of classic race cars compete at 2010's biennial Monaco Historic Grand Prix, as they always do, on the same street circuit as their Formula 1 cousins just two weeks later. Incredibly narrow and tight, the 3.34km temporary track courses through the small principality's major residential area, lined with exclusive shops, luxury hotels and restaurants on one side and the harbour, littered with jaw-dropping yachts on the other. But despite the obvious changes to Monte Carlo's surrounding buildings, the track is remarkably similar to what it was when Monaco's first Grand Prix was held back in 1929.
The whole backdrop oozes style, class and verve. And then to fill it with the unique sight and sounds of historic race cars from yesteryear was simply mesmerising.
JD Classics was there to take it all in, competing for the very first time at what is said to be one of Europe's top classic motorsport events, on one of motor racing's most prestigious circuits. So you can imagine our excitement to be able to take two very special cars with us on our inaugural visit.
Chris Buncombe took the wheel of a highly-prized Jaguar C-Type, once owned by the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio, four times world grand prix champion. And pictured here, Wil Arif drove Chris' ex-Ecurie Ecosse Connaught A6, as driven by Sir Stirling Moss at the 1957 Monza GP.
The weekend retrospective on Monaco's golden age of racing began with qualifying on Saturday for Sunday's eight group races. It was the first time the C-Type had ever raced in Europe since it was built. And it was the Connaught's first time at Monaco, too. So the sense of history and occasion was palpable in the pits. Clearly, if you let the occasion get to you, this can be more of a distraction than a help. And you need to keep your concentration at peak performance for Monaco's tight lines – otherwise you could be left with the pricey job of fishing cars out of the harbour (which surprisingly has only ever happened twice before in the course's history)! But Chris and Wil are both highly experienced drivers and so thankfully qualified competitively without drama.
Sunday came and to everyone's relief, an overcast day made for ideal conditions for drivers, race teams and spectators alike. Most of the eight races are 10 laps each, or 30 minutes (whichever comes first). As you'd expect from historic race cars from these periods, positions changed on nearly every lap – which is most unlike the highly strategic pitting or computed simulations of our F1 cousins on show just two weeks later. So overall, our cars had an eventful weekend. But that didn't take away from what has to be one of the most attractive events of the racing year.
Totally smitten, we're itching to return. All being well, that'll be in 2012. And if the excitement and relaxed atmosphere among 2010's highly informed spectactors was anything to go by, you really should think seriously about coming too.