Every May, all eyes are on Monaco for their famous Grand Prix, but did you know that Nice once had its own glamorous Grand Prix, and a major world racing record to boot?
The first man to break the 120 km/hr land speed barrier did so on the Promenade des Anglais in 1902. It was during the Rothschild Cup that Leon Serpollet created a sensation with his innovative steam-powered car he called the Easter Egg, and completely blowing past the long standing record of 105 km/hr, setting a new world speed record for 120 km/hr (75 mph).
During the golden age of auto racing, Nice was the Cote d’Azur racing capital with the Concours d’Elegance, the International Paris-Nice auto rallye and the mythic Nice Grand Prix from 1932-’35.
The high-speed circuit started along the seaside near Jardin Albert I on the Promenade des Anglais and featured a hairpin turn in front of the Hotel Negresco, a swing around the Jardins Albert I, and then back to the seaside for another hairpin turn across from the Old Town. The race was a ‘formule libre’, the precurser to the Formula One, and the cars included the best from Bugatti, Maserati, Mercedes and Alfa Romeo, running the 3.229 km course for 10 laps in the heats and 15 laps for the finals.
Click here for amazing archival newsreel footage of the Nice Grand Prix.
Related Page: How to do the Monaco Grand Prix…for Free
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Thank you to Philippe Biancheri for archive assistance!