The history of the one of the most charismatic race circuits in the world dates back more than a century. A legacy, as Joe explains, that makes the Autodromo Nazionale Di Monza one of the most compelling venues on this year’s calendar.
Words – Joe Bradley
Images – Petr Frýba / Stellantis
When the first sod was turned by Vincenzo Lancia and Felice Nazzaro in the Monza Park adjoining the Royal Villa, the date was February 26th, 1922. That is more than 100 years ago. And with a certain motor race in France celebrating its 100th year anniversary this weekend, it is perhaps correct we recognize the illustrious history of the circuit hosting this year’s Hankook 12H MONZA.
Fittingly, Monza’s Autodrome created headlines from the outset. Only a few days after the ground had been broken, work was brought to a halt by environmental protestors who did not want to see the beauty of the royal park torn apart (yes, environmentalist protestors was a thing a hundred years ago, who knew?) Plans were dutifully adjusted and the environmentalists appeased, whereupon more than 3000 men went to work and completed the job in a staggering 110 days.
The track builders’ creation was a combination of a road and banked track measuring 9.99km, incorporating huge grandstands, pits and a network of service roads that proved to be quite a novelty for a race circuit of the time.
100,000 spectators turned out on Sunday September 10th 1922 to witness the first Italian Grand Prix at Monza. The flat-out nature of the track became Monza's signature but also created a danger that was beyond the limits of acceptability even for those times.
The ever-increasing development and performance levels of racing cars eventually brought about changes to the configuration of the track in an effort to make the racing safer. Chicanes broke up the long straights, though these remain as challenging now as they ever did.
The fact that the imposing view of the banking still remains in the background merely adds to the inescapable sense of tradition that makes racing at Monza an unforgettable experience. Other circuits of course have their own character, but none can match the highly-charged atmosphere of the Autodromo Nazionale Di Monza at any time of the year.
The 24H SERIES last raced at Monza in 2020 where we saw the Herberth Motorsport team create series history by becoming the first team ever to seal a 1-2-3 podium in the overall GT results. We may struggle to ever see that happen again as the 2023 season has already proven to be very competitive, and I doubt anyone can predict where this weekend’s winners will come from.
A little easier to predict is the fact that we are sure that everyone, competitors and spectators alike, will have a fabulous time at what is truly a Mecca of motorsport history.
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TEAM ACP – Tangerine Associates