David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/8/09 3:39 p.m.

In Europe, the word “motorsports” holds a different meaning than it does here: rallying, not the Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500, is the passion of many. And since 1911, the wintertime Monte Carlo Rally has been the continent’s version of our 500.

For generations, European fans have been enamored by the spectacular skill, incredible action and horrible weather conditions provided by international rallying. Manufacturers also love the sport, as it can be the perfect place to showcase the performance and durability of their products.

The Principality of Monaco may only occupy one square mile of southern Europe, but this tiny country plays an important part on the world’s rally stage. Wedged between the Alpes-Maritimes and the Mediterranean Sea, Monaco and its single city—Monte Carlo—lie alongside the Italian border and near the city of Nice, France. Tiny, wealthy and beautiful, Monaco is the perfect place to host an international event.

Organized by the Automobile Club de Monaco, the Rallye Autommobile Monte Carlo soon earned an international reputation. It is the oldest, most famous and therefore the most prestigious rally on the current FIA World Rally Championship calendar. This year marked the 74th running of this amazing event, the only interruptions coming during the first and second World Wars.

While different routes have been used throughout the years, all competitors now start and finish in Monaco, with the majority of the action taking place in the mountains in nearby France. The weather for this January event is often unpredictable, and drivers can encounter anything from deep snow to dry asphalt—sometimes on the same stage.

Forty years ago, a small car from England took on the Monte Carlo and rivaled anything the world of rallying had to offer.

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