List: The Top 10 Reasons to Love Monza

By Seyth Miersma

September 10, 2009


Curva Parabolica: Fourth gear, nearly four gs, and about 134 miles per hour make Monza’s final corner one for the ages. Parabolica’s high speed and increasing radius make it one of F1’s most brutal, and most entertaining. Great name, too.


Huge Speed: Average pace on the order of 155 mph, top speeds in excess of 220 mph. Sacrificing wing and grip for ultimate pace is the game for the Italian GP—all-out attack is needed to win


Milanese Food: Racing? This is Italy, after all, and a trip to Monza is best bookended with as much Northern Italian eating as possible. The city is known for its “golden” cuisine, so keep on the lookout for sunny dishes like cornmeal polenta, veal cotoletta Milanese, and the saffron infused risotto Milanese.


Sense of History: Very little in Italy, it seems, is not very old and Monza is no exception. Since the very first Italian Grand Prix in 1921 (held at Brescia) Monza has been its home all but five times, helping to give the track one of the richest histories in all of motorsport.


Ghosts: Grand Prix racing is never a safe occupation, but Monza’s great speed has always made death a close companion. 19 crashes have resulted in death in the track’s eight decades, and two of F1’s most horrifying crashes (Wolfgang von Trips—statue pictured—in 1961 and Emilio Materassi in 1928) caused the death of 41 spectators in total. Thankfully, nine years have passed since Monza’s last fatality (in 2000 a marshal was hit and killed by accident debris), but the spirits are still thick in the air here.


Jim Clark’s 3rd Place: Though your writer wasn’t alive to see it, great F1 tales transcend time. In 1967 Jim Clark added one such to his dossier. After taking an early lead, Clark suffered a tire failure that forced him into the pits, and ended up a full lap down on the race leaders. Undaunted, the masterful Clark slipstreamed his way up and through the pack, eventually retaking the race lead. His efforts cost him too much fuel, and the two-times World Champion was forced to coast across the finish line in third place. John Surtees won the race, but Clark had clearly etched his legend deeper.


Turn 1, Lap 1: The first turn of any F1 GP can be full of drama, but the ultra tight first chicane at Monza is almost certain to create a number of offs, if not outright retirements. Don’t miss the start.


Milanese Women: Here’s a bone for those that consider modern F1 too boring to pay much attention to. Monza is a delight for the senses, on the track and off.


Schumacher’s Retirement: As much a master of Monza (five wins) as he was in his glorious F1 career, Schumi called it quits at the 2006 Italian Grand Prix (which he won). After his particularly boring domination (13 first place finishes in 2004 made that a tough season to watch) of the sport for most of his career, we weren’t exactly choked up at his departure. Nothing personal, Michael.


Tifosi: Ferrari. The world’s most popular carmaker has got some rather enthusiastic fans in its home country, and said Tifosi seem to go particularly ape at the track that marks Ferrari’s spiritual center. Flags, wigs, singing, nudity, and occasional violence are all par for the course in the world Tifosi. The ultra successful Schumacher era helped to swell the ranks of enthusiasts to record levels—making Monza’s grandstands a veritable sea of red clothing during the Italian GP. We’ve got to give credit to any fan base that can party this hard, and still manage a Ferrari flag as big as a basketball court.

Curva Huge Milanese Sense Ghosts: Jim Turn Milanese Schumacher’s Tifosi:

With the 2009 Italian Grand Prix at Monza nearly upon us, we thought it an apt time to reflect on some of the items that make the historic Italian speedway one of the best. Sure, not each of our picks is entirely related to racing, but we found them all compelling, nonetheless. Click through the gallery above to read along, and then tell us where we went wrong, in comments.