I was mesmerized by this youtube video below of the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix. The complete and utter lack of safety precautions is remarkable. From track workers to spectators and of course the drivers, it seems like this is auto racing on an alien planet compared to what we see in F1 today. In the video, you’ll even see a car fly off the track and into the harbor.
Below is a highlight video for the same Monaco Grand Prix held (a few weeks ago) in 2021. It’s a very similar course, but they have long since improved various barriers to make sure no cars go into the drink. Improved head protection seems particularly noticeable, compared to the completely un-shrouded heads and nominal helmets worn by the drivers in 1955.
This wasn’t meant to be a post solely about safety, and of course no one can argue that every aspect of cars and racing is safer today than in 1955. But I was most moved by how raw life looks in the early video. Everything is more exposed. We seem to be much more shrouded these days in just about every way, behind fences, in protected zones, behind tinted windows.
Fireproof suit and head shrouding in the name of safety certainly helped save Roman Grosjean’s life in his crash in 2020 in Bahrain, as you can see in the video below. I still can’t help but wonder if in other ways we are overly insulated.
Modern cars have become a place for isolation. Soundproof, plush, and no longer in touch with bumps in the road… now we want more screens and entertainment in our cars, because driving itself is no longer entertaining. But look at Stirling Moss interface with his Mercedes in 1955 in the video above. He jumps into Fangio’s Formula one car for a hot lap without blinking, dust on his shirt, not a logo in sight, not a seat belt of any kind to fasten, and off he drives. It all seems very simple. And exposed. And real. (And courageous!)
In our little, little car business, we are building machines to teleport our customers back to the raw simplicity you see in the 1955 GP. A Bugeye has no fences. Life with a Bugeye puts the driver out in the world, vulnerable, yet completely alive. No screens. No electronics. And just two little 30 amp fuses on board. Sure, we have made the experience more plush to acknowledge the wishes of modern drivers. We offer three-point seat belts and LED lights to make our cars as safe as possible. And we have added more power and gears so we can keep up with the madness. But fundamentally, if you enter our universe, you can count on exposing yourself.
We wouldn’t have it any other way.