Could this be the last Monte Carlo Rally start in Glasgow?

Monte Carlo Rally 2011
Cars gathered in Glasgow's George Square for the start of the 2011 Monte Carlo Rally

Classic cars are set to leave Glasgow as part of the Monte Carlo Rally but organisers say it may be the last time the city is used a starting point.

They claim that Glasgow City Council has not supported the event since 2011, amid environmental concerns.

But a council spokesperson said it had been decided that the rally was "not a strategic fit for the city".

This year participants will set off from privately-owned Blythswood Square Gardens.

The rally first departed from Glasgow in 1924, when one car left the city for Monte Carlo - and won the race.

One hundred years later, 29 cars are due to set off for the epic journey to Monaco.

Douglas Anderson, who co-ordinates the rally's Glasgow start, said that in 2012 the council told organisers they would have to pay parking charges for using bays around George Square.

And he said attitudes to the event had changed in recent years and, unlike 2011, it was no longer seen as a "shop window" for the city.

He recalled: "Because it’s an international city, they were very happy to have an international rally.

"So we got all the help we needed, all the various personnel.

"The council were very helpful and I think it was a tremendous success when it came here for the first time after 40 years."

But after being asked to pay for parking bays the following year, he said that they were supported by other councils to start from Paisley and Clydebank.

For the 100th anniversary, he approached Glasgow City Council to try and strike a deal with them.

He said he suggested planting trees in one of the city's gardens in an effort to offset the carbon, but he said they weren't interested.

Mr Anderson said it was becoming increasingly difficult to organise classic car events.

"I think there’s a new attitude towards the car and we’re almost made to dislike them and the people that drive them and the size that they are," he said.

"Old cars are a bit more polluting but they don’t do many miles a year so it amounts to hardly anything in terms of the environment."

Now aged 75, Mr Anderson said the rally may have to change to survive.

He added: "I like cars. I like the smell of them. I like the noise and I’m not sure that the younger generation appreciate that.

"They might be quite happy to drive into an electric car and drive off and whizz away into the future, but I feel quite different.

“Yes it is a bit sad but things have changed in the world. And it might be too that the Automobile Club DeMonaco might need to change the regulations for cars.

"It might be in the future it might be all electric or hydrogen or whatever comes next. It certainly won’t be the internal combustion engine."

Monte Carlo Rally
Monte Carlo Rally

Glasgow City Council said that in early 2023, they met with organisers to discuss their request as to whether the city would be interested in hosting the Monte Carlo Rally this month.

A further discussion took place at a meeting of the Glasgow Events Board.

"A decision was made that Glasgow would not support hosting this event in Glasgow as it was not a strategic fit for the city," a spokesperson said.

They added that organisers then approached the private owners of Blythswood Square Gardens and they agreed to host it.

What is the Monte Carlo Rally?

The Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique is for cars similar to models that took part in the Monte Carlo Rallies between 1911 and 1983.

There are a number of starting points for participants - Glasgow, Bad Homburg in Germany, Reims in France and Milan in Italy.

More than 250 crews will meet in the Alps for the final competitive runs over snow and ice-covered roads, before the finish in Monte Carlo.

It takes place on public roads and teams are required to obey the traffic laws of each country they pass through at each stage of the competition

At the end of the 2,000km (1,200 miles) penalties collected for speeding, failing to follow the rules, taking an incorrect route etc, are converted into points.

The team with the smallest points total tops the rankings and is declared the winner.

Monte Carlo Rally
In 2013 in Glasgow, cars set off from The People’s Palace at Glasgow Green

On Tuesday, the competitors met at Lomond Shores to have their cars checked for eligibility and safety.

There drivers also took part in a series of driving tests, a recreation of those originally held 100 years ago on the quay in Monte Carlo.