Sorry that there has been nothing new on the website for the last week or so, but I’ve been on holiday in Italy. The highlight was visiting the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, home of the Italian Grand Prix.
Set in the middle of Monza’s Royal Park, the Grand Prix circuit is open to the public most days. Although you can’t wander out onto the GP track itself, you can explore most of the circuit environs to your heart’s delight. And when you do, you will find this:
This is the infamous surface of the old Monza banked circuit. Impossibly steep (pictures simply don’t do it justice; you have to scramble up on all fours to get to the top, and toppling back down would be very painful), ridiculously dangerous and only used on a few occasions, the banked circuit out in the middle of the woods is eerie, spooky and beautiful. It was originally linked to the better-known GP circuit, so one lap involved both parts of the circuit for a total of 10km. F1 hasn’t used the banked section since 1961, and other races stopped using it later in the 1960s. Since then, it has simply been decaying, and was nearly demolished altogether in the 1990s before being saved.
To walk around the banked circuit gives you a glimpse into F1 legend. Juan Manuel Fangio won here in his Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow in 1955, Stirling Moss in 1956 and Phil Hill in both 1960 and 1961 for Ferrari (pictured right). There were also two “Race of Two Worlds” events between F1 cars and American Indycars. No-one enjoyed racing on the banking, everyone feared the consequences of an accident, and all were glad to survive it. Now it stands as a tribute to F1 history. It is spectacular, and a must-see for any F1 or motor racing fan.