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TIME Magazine June 15, 1961, p. 70:|
Through the Streets
In a sport that is obsessed with speed and dogged with death, the Grand Prix de Monaco is a cheerful interlude. Only once, in 1952, was a driver killed in the race, and even the most daring racers-- piloting cars capable of 180 m.p.h.-- can average only about 70 m.p.h. around the twisty, 1.95-mi. Monte Carlo circuit.
Over the Wall. But if it is relatively safe, Monaco is one of the world's most exciting auto races. The course plunges wildly through the 368-acre Mediterranean principality itself, swooping up the narrow streets from the harbor, past the Hotel de Paris and Cartier's, and zig-zagging down again from the Casino gardens through a tunnel to the waterfront.
For three hours, cars race nose to tail, their drivers compelled to shift gears on an average of once every 10 sec. The racket of screaming engines echoes deafeningly off cliffs and building walls. The accidents are spectacular. One year a driver ended up with his radiator embedded in the ticket office of Monte Carlo's railroad station, and in 1935 Italy's great Alberto Ascari drove his Lancia over the sea wall into the Mediterranean.
Last week more than 50,000 racing fans, including Prince Ranier and Princess Grace, were on hand to see the fun in the 20th Monaco Grand Prix. Everybody got his money's worth. No sooner had the 16 cars roared away from the start than there was a grand pile-up. Barreling into the first 180 degree "Gas Works" hairpin, the U.S.'s Richie Ginther found the accelerator of his British-built B.R.M. stuck tightly to the floor.
Helpless, Ginther plowed into the Lotus of France's Maurice Trintignant, slamming it sideways, directly into the path of three other cars. Three cars were knocked out of the race, and their drivers joined the spectators. Slipping past a spinning Ferrari, Britain's mustached Graham Hill, in a dark green B.R.M., forged boldly into the lead.
"Faster!" For 92 of the 100 laps, Hill seemed unbeatable. His B.R.M. was clearly the fastest car in the race, and he held a lead of nearly a minute over his closest pursuers: New Zealand's Bruce McLaren, in a Cooper-Climax, and California's Phil Hill, the 1961 world champion, driving a rear-engined blood-red Ferrari. But it was not Graham Hill's day. His engine suddenly dropped a load of oil and conked out-- McLaren spurted ahead. The Ferrari mechanics flashed "Faster!" at Phil Hill, and Phil desperately pushed his accelerator to the floor. Turning his Ferrari furiously around the tight turns, he began to cut into McLaren's 15-sec. lead. By the 97th lap, McLaren led Hill by only eight seconds, and the crowd was screaming as both racers flashed through the last, short, straight at 120 m.p.h.
At the finish, McLaren was still ahead-- by 1.3 seconds. "Another lap and I could have won," grumbled Phil Hill. But all was not lost: for finishing second, he picked up six points and tied Graham Hill for the lead in the race for the 1962 driver's championship.