LAS VEGAS - GENTLEMEN, DEMARREZ VOS MOTEURS/START YOUR ENGINES!
F1's Crown Jewel -- Monaco
F1 is a global phenomenon. F1 just finished a crazy race in Miami. F1 will be in Vegas on November 19. Before we get to Vegas, lemme take you back to the most famous F1 race, the Monaco Grand Prix. The year is 1972.
I was living in Europe for the year, doing, wink, wink, independent study.
That basically meant you could take a year off of college, travel the world, keep some notes and get full credit towards graduation.
A New Yorker In London
My main hang was London and one day saw a car with a New York license plate. Went up and said hello, and after yakking for like almost an hour, the dude invited me to meet him in Monte Carlo for the Grand Prix. Said he knew a driver that was on the F2 circuit and could get us seats on the track.
Got a train from London to Monaco, third class of course, and found a little cheapo pension for like 200 French Francs. In case your'e not familiar, a pension is a type of guest house typically in European countries. The 200 sounds like a bundle, but the Franc was only worth a nickel back then, so we're talking 10 bucks a night.
My guy, think his name was George, met me at the train station and we went right to the track to watch practice. We got to hang like RIGHT on the track, and NEVER heard a noise like that in my life as the cars SCREAMED past us at almost 200 miles per hour.
George's father was the CFO for Aristotle Onassis, who was one of the richest men in the world, with the world's largest privately owned shipping fleet.
So, George had some SERIOUS JUICE. And he asked if we wanted to ride with Prince Rainier Louis Henri Maxence Bertrand Grimaldi and Princess Grace around the track during a practice session.
When the Rolls Royce pulled up to the pit area, we jumped in and enjoyed a few laps with the Prince and Princess. Told Louie Henry about my 1972 Vega that I just bought for $350 bones and he laughed his ass off.
The '70s were a different Time
Actually, spider alert, didn't drive around with royalty, but did have a spot on the track, on top of a FREAKIN' HAY BALE, right at the famous La Rascasse corner.
Yes, a hay bale. And yes, safety was NOT a priority back in the day. Jackie Stewart was the reigning F1 Champion, but Jean-Pierre Maurice Georges Beltoise won the race, his only win EVER, in a gigantic rain storm.
Back to the now, and we would love to see someone beat the current champ, Max Verstappen, but he, and his Red Bull Honda are virtually a lock.
However, and there is one however.
If it's a rainy day in Monaco, and the track is a little sloppy, we would bet some Francs, oops, now it's Euros, on Fernando Alonso and his Aston Martin at 6/1. Nando has won at the Circuit de Monaco twice and we're hearing a 60% chance of thunderstorms.
STILL RIDING THE ZAMBONI IN VEGAS!
HELP! Told you about a pretty decent size wager I made on the Vegas Golden Knights to win the Stanley Cup in last week's column. Accepting all thoughts about a possible hedge. The Florida Panthers have been STUPID GREAT, beating the Bruins, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes. Do the Panthers have one more run, or, is it time for VIVA LAS VEGAS? Yell at me!
Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America's Line, with the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has run in the New York Daily News and over 100 other papers since 1988. You can follow him online at www.americasline.com. He is beloved by most, when he picks winners, and detested by others, when he picks the occasional loser. If you wanna piece of Eck, hit his Email...firstname.lastname@example.org.