Autodromo Nazionale Monza

By: Mark Higgins, Unique Cars magazine

Monza Grand Prix Track Monza Grand Prix Track

Holden Commodore Part of Monza’s History

Construction commenced at Monza, the world’s third-ever purpose-built race track, on this day in 1922.

Monza, which hosts the Italian GP and is located north of Milan, is only preceded by Brooklands in the UK and Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the USA. 

The circuit, with its spectacular high banking curves hosted the second-ever running of the Italian Grand Prix and has hosted the GP every year since with the exception of 1980.

The Monza complex features three tracks and in addition to the F1 cars, hosts events for sportscars, the World Touring Car Championship and the Superbike World Championship.

A Group A Holden Commodore driven by Allan Moffat and John Harvey made history at Monza, when it won the opening round of the inaugural World Touring Car Championship in 1987.

After splitting with Peter Brock earlier in the year, Moffat secretly purchased the Commodore race car from HDT, through an intermediary, then had it shipped to Monza and raced under Rothmans colours.

Moffat and Harvey actually finished sixth but every car in front of them was disqualified for technical breaches.

In 1966 Jack Brabham secured his third world title at Monza and the unique achievement of becoming world champion in a car of his own make, despite retiring from the race on lap seven.

In 1981 the then-World Champion, Australian Alan Jones, arrived at Monza with a broken finger on his right hand, due to an altercation with a couple of thugs after a traffic incident in London. You’d assume the straight-talking Jones gave as good as he got. That weekend Jones told Frank Williams, his team boss, that he wanted to retire at the end of the season, before going on to finish second in the race.

Over the years Monza has witnessed many great battles with Honda’s John Surtees leaping from third to first in a spine-tingling final lap to clinch fourth in the championship for the Japanese manufacturer.

In 1988 McLaren won 15 of 15 Grands Prix. Had Ayrton Senna not been hit by a backmarker he was overtaking while leading the race, it would have been a clean sweep by the team.

Sadly, Monza has its darker side, claiming the lives of Grand Prix stars Ronnie Peterson, Wolfgang Von Trips, Alberto Ascari and Jochen Rindt, all losing their lives here, with Rindt becoming the only driver to be posthumously awarded the Formula One World Drivers Championship.

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