The Conductor

Monaco Grand Prix, Louis Chiron, klemcoll

With his flag like a conductor’s baton, the famed Monégasque racing driver Louis Chiron, who after his retirement became the official starter of the Monaco Grand Prix, prepares to release the field for an early practice session. The year was 1962 and the Grand Prix itself would take place on June 3rd. Immediately in front of the camera is the Ferrari 156F1 being driven by the reigning F1 World Champion Phil Hill. His teammate Willy Mairesse appears to be in the similar car just forward of Hill and to the right. In the front of the group of cars are probably two Porsche 718s, the silver works car of Jo Bonnier and the orange private one of Carel Godin de Beaufort.

As then usual at Monaco, only 16 cars would be allowed to start with a number of “automatic qualifier” places reserved for certain drivers, no matter what their practice times might be. The actual grid order would then be set by the cars’ practice times.This arrangement and a total of 22 possible runners on hand meant that only six starting places were to be available to the 12 not-yet-qualified cars. The top three qualifiers, all  automatic, were Jim Clark (Lotus 25), Graham Hill (BRM P57) and Bruce McLaren (Cooper T60). Fastest of the other group was Willy Mairesse (Ferrari 156F1), fourth overall.

The start was a near disaster as Mairesse suffered an attack of “red mist” and braked far too late at the Gazometer Hairpin at the end of the startling straight along the harbor front.. As others braked to avoid him, the resulting thumps caused three of the other cars to retire on the spot although Mairesse gathered his Ferrari up and continued. Graham Hill led the race for most of Cooper, Bruce McLaren, Monaco Garnd Prix, klemcollits distance until his engine  expired with eight of the 100 laps to go. This left McLaren in the lead, seen at the left rounding the Station Hairpin, with Phil Hill fast closing the gap between them. Hill put on a hard drive over the final laps and had come to within just over a second behind McLaren at the finish.

Photos by Robert Daley and Yves Debraine @The Klemantaski Collection –

To see more photos by Robert Daley and Yves Debraine go to: Our End of Year Sale on prints and books is going on now. Contact us for complete information.

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