There are different opinions whether the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza circuit is a good racing circuit or not, talking about the layout with long straights and chicanes. But no one would deny that the home of the annual Formula One Italian Grand Prix is a historic site. You can feel that as soon as you enter the circuit ground…

The 1988 Italian Grand Prix

The first Italian Grand Prix I remember was in 1988, short after the death of Enzo Ferrari. McLaren looked unbeatable that year and won all races of the season, except one. After Alain Prost retired with a broken engine, teammate Ayrton Senna was leading the race. It seemed to be another easy victory for McLaren.

Autodromo Nazionale di Monza 1994 - Podium and Start/Finish line

But when Senna intended to lap Schlesser in the first chicane both vehicles collided and where out of the race. Both Ferrari drivers took over the lead. Gerhard Berger won the race before his teammate Michele Alboreto. It was like a miracle that the Italian Grand Prix was won by Ferrari in a season that was dominated by McLaren. At the end of the broadcast they showed a portrait of Enzo Ferrari.

The aftermath of Imola 1994

During my summer vacation in Northern Italy in 1994 I made a short (way to short) visit to Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. The tragedies earlier that year at another Italian circuit, Imola, still overshadowed that season. During the season the safety requirements for the circuits where increased, especially Gerhard Berger strived for more safety, and it was not sure if the Italian Grand Prix would take place.

Monza - The grandstand with restaurant since 1940

Autodromo Nazionale di Monza breathes motor racing history!

Arrived at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, I immediately felt that this was not an average race track. Everything there breathes motor racing history. The old main grandstand, the old pitboxes at the end of the modern pit lane, and off course the famous Monza Banking. In an office they gave me a brochure with the history of Autodromo Nazionale di Monza in Italian. I still have this brochure.

Excited I took pictures from the stands and around the paddock. Near the Ascari chicane someone had sprayed a text on the crash barriers: Ayrton Senna per sempre in nostro cuore (Ayrton Senna forever in our hearts). It was an expression of the shock that had came over all motorsport fans that year.

Autodromo Nazionale di Monza 1994 - Text about Senna on the crash barrier

After looking around for over an hour it was time to move on. If I had more time I would have searched for an entrance to the banking. But this time I had to settle for a few photos from a distance. I say “this time” because the circuit was still on my wish list for a longer visit. However, I had to wait to 2017 before I would made that longer visit to the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza…

Autodromo Nazionale di Monza 1994 - Exit Parabolica and banking on the back ground

When I would leave the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, I saw a group of Italians discuss something. I was curious whether a decision had been made on cancellation of the Italian Grand Prix. So I stepped up to them and asked in my best Italian if the Italian Grand Prix would go ahead.

One of them mentioned that there was still no decision. “Non buono Berger,” he said. He clearly blamed Gerhard Berger for it. However, the Italian Grand Prix of that year passed through, albeit with a slower (read screwed) version of the second Lesmo Corner.

Variante del Rettifilo

After that visit, I would see many races at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza on TV. Because of my knowledge of the Italian language I always have to laugh when reporters shorten the name of the firs chicane, called “Variante del Rettifilo”, to Rettifilo. I still hear good old Murray Walker yell at his typical manner: “And there they go, into the Rettifilo!”.

Autodromo Nazionale di Monza 1994 - Old pits and Start-Finish

Many people will now be wondering what it is so funny about that. For those who don’t speak Italian, here a short lesson: Variante = chicane. Rettifilo = straight. “Variante del Rettifilo” means chicane of the straight.

So, Murray Walker said in fact, “And there they go, into the straight!”, while you saw the cars going into a chicane! “Oh look at them, braking very late for the straight” 🙂

Monza Oval

Autodromo Nazionale di Monza 2017

In 2017 I visited the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza again. Now I took the time to explore it, together with an Italian friend and fan of this website. We explored the Monza Banking, the Pirelli Track and some parts of the current road circuit. Below you can see the video’s from that visit.

I hope you enjoyed my blog post about my visit to the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. If so, comments are welcome! 😉

Herman

Thoughts on this subject

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