The 24 Hours of Le Mans race is one for the history books. Originally named Grand Prix de Vitesse et d’Endurance or Grand Prix of Speed and Endurance, it is arguably the most famous of all automobile races. Even those who are not avid race fans know Le Mans.
This year, there was an event even prior to the actual race. TAG Heuer brand ambassador Patrick Dempsey was tasked with driving the viper green Porsche 911 RS from the private car collection of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco. “Tasked” is used lightly, as driving that royal car would be a dream. Dempsey is a racer in his own right, as driver and owner of Dempsey Racing. Driving the Porsche 911 RS from Monaco to the Var track Le Luc was great start to what would be a fabulous weekend.
But even before this foray in the Porsche, the actor-driver was kept busy. He attended the cocktail party at Monaco Top Cars Collection, along with such luminaries as Jack Heuer, Honorary President of TAG Heuer, HSH Princess Stéphanie of Monaco and her children, Pauline and Louis Ducruet and Camille Gottlieb, descendants of Prince Albert I. The family generations came together and it was a fitting tribute to the ties that bind TAG Heuer and the Principality.
Another auspicious milestone was celebrated as well – the fiftieth anniversary of a Gulf car in the race, marked by the launch of the Monaco Gulf 50th anniversary edition, celebrated in the presence of Sanjay Hinduja of Gulf Oil International.
Prince Albert I of Monaco was himself a road travel enthusiast. In the early 20th century, he traced a route along the roads of the Côte d’Azur. Back then, he travelled the roads in a Humber, an English-made motorcycle. From Monaco, he made his way to Paris, then Deauville. He took a different route each time, all the better to see the beautiful country. One year his meandering led him to Le Luc. Interestingly enough, he marked his path in pencil on a map dating from 1904, now called the Prince’s Map. The map has been restored by TAG Heuer and is on display at the Monaco Top Cars Collection. Also on display at the Collection is the Humber that Prince Albert I used for this travels. If you fancy road travel history, then a visit to this Collection should be on your bucket list.
Upon arriving at the Var track in Le Luc, there were several cars to be taken to on the track: a Porsche 911 GTS RS, a classic Porsche, a Porsche Panamera GT3, and even the Ford GT40, used by Gulf Racing in their first Le Mans victory half a century ago.
TAG Heuer released a special limited edition of the Monaco Gulf; so limited, there are just 50 of them in the world. Powered by the TAG Heuer Calibre 11, the automatic chronograph watch has a chronograph minute counter at 9 o’clock, current seconds counter at 3 o’clock, and a date window at 6 o’clock. The dial, with the famous square case, features the iconic Gulf colors of light blue and orange. The black calfskin strap features orange stitching and lining too, and the back of the watch has the Gulf anniversary emblem and the serial number.
The question now is, is Patrick Dempsey one of the 50 who will be proud owners of the Monaco Gulf? And will we see the Monaco Gulf on his wrist the next time he takes to the track, reminiscent of Steve McQueen in Le Mans?