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Modern History

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Monte Carlo Rally

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Gerry Rafferty

For the first time in it’s history, the Monte Carlo Classic Rally chose Paisley as the Starting Point for the UK Leg of the famous old Rally. Around ten thousand people descended on Paisley from far and wide to watch as the cars set off on their epic journey to Monte Carlo.

Famous names from the Rally’s past, Paddy Hopkirk - the last British winner of the Rally, and Rosemary Smith - a pioneer for women in Rallying, help wave the cars off alongside Renfrewshire’s Provost, Anne Hall.

As well as watching the cars set off, the audience had the opportunity to view all the cars as they lined up the length of Abbey Close and Bridge Street. There was a great deal of reminiscing as memories of cars gone by stirred the old heartstrings.

Renfrewshire Council also laid on a Stage with entertainment from Radio Clyde’s Gavin Pearson, a dance routine from the Kennedy Cupcakes and singing by Paisley’s own Michael Cassidy.

Rally Champions

Renfrewshire Provost, Anne Hall was joined at the Start Line by Paddy Hopkirk and Rosemary Smith.

Rosemary Smith, one of the most famous drivers in the world and a pioneer for female achievement  led the cars off on their epic 2688km odyssey to the French Riviera for the Monte Carlo Classic Rally from Abbey Close in Paisley.

Rosemary rose to international prominence in 1965 when she defeated her male counterparts to win the famous Tulip Rally. She became only the second fully contracted international lady rally driver of her time, alongside Pat Moss, sister of Formula One legend, Stirling Moss.

And, Motorsport legend Paddy Hopkirk waved off the cars at the start ramp, 50 years after his Monte victory made world news.

The 80 year old Irishman was on the Start Ramp with Renfrewshire Provost Anne Hall to flag off the 70 classic cars starting out on their epic 5 day journey to Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo Classic Rally History:- 

  • For the 2014 edition, Paisley joined Barcelona, Oslo, Stockholm and Reims as one of the start venues for the 103rd ‘Monte’- one of the most famous and glamorous motorsport events in the world.
  • Between 50-100 beautiful classic cars including Lancias, Bentleys, Rileys, Porsches, Minis and Hillman Imps from the 1920s onwards will travel 2688km from Renfrewshire to the sunshine of the French Riviera.
  • Those competing in the full event will take part in the famous timed concentration runs in the snow and ice of the French Alps before descending into the Principality for the closing Gala Dinner.
  • Cars will leave the start ramp at Abbey Close, beside Paisley Abbey, at one minute intervals before making their way south to Dover on the M74. From Dover, they will cross the English Channel and enter France for the trek south.
  • Last year’s event at Glasgow Green created a record: the highest attendance for any UK start of the rally in 102 years. 15 000 people lined Glasgow Green and surrounding streets to wave off the cars.
  • The event has been watched by over 30 000 spectators since it was brought back to Scotland by Douglas Anderson and the Start Committee in 2011 for its centenary. The economic spin-off since 2011 is expected to soar above the 4 million mark this year.
  • Completing the full ‘Monte’ takes 5 days of virtually non-stop driving. Competitors this year include a Mediterranean mega-yacht captain, a Zurich-based world land speed record hopeful and 2 French crews traveling to Paisley to go all the way back home again!
  • Created in 1911 by Prince Albert 1, the event was designed to entice wealthy car owners to the famous casinos of the French Riviera.
  • In 1911, 23 cars started out for Monte Carlo from six different European starting cities. Only 16 made it, with Henri Rougier winning in a 25 horse-power Turcat-Mery.
  • Organised bAutomobile Club de Monaco, the annual pilgrimage to Monte Carlo from start points all over Europe is synonymous with glamour, human adventure and beautiful cars.
  • The six starting points for the first Monte in 1911 were Geneva, Paris, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Vienna, Brussels and Berlin. In 1953, a total of 404 teams left for Monte Carlo from all start points. In 1957, a bus seating 10 people enrolled for the event. Unfortunately, the ’57 edition was cancelled as the Suez Crisis enforced the rationing of petrol. In 1961, the BBC entered a London taxi and a three man-crew. It reached Monaco successfully, sparking worldwide interest.

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You can see more photos from this year’s Monte Carlo Classic Rally here.

© www.paisleyonline.co.uk 2014

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