The parties at the Monaco Grand Prix top every party in the world. But I had no idea what to expect. I should have expected an Indian fashion show. I met my idols. I got the cold shoulder from a dickish Jeremy Clarkson. This is what it's like inside Monaco's most ridiculous and glamorous F1 party.
Welcome to Force India's Monaco Grand Prix party. Sponsored by Signature Whiskey and hosted aboard Vijay Mallya's Indian Empress, it was the most awesome, most ridiculous party I've ever been to. Seriously AWESOME. Like Bar Rafaeli and Hannah Simone just hanging out with Zooey Deschanel (if you like her, if you don't, think of someone else) awesome.
Even the cars that drove to the party were ridiculously cool. I'm pretty sure that's a Ruf CTR3 sitting out front.
I knew it would be incredible the moment I received the invitation. It came in a beautiful gold box with a magnetic closure. Inside was a credit card to gain entry. Who does this? Each card was scanned at the door to prevent counterfeit invites. Even more ridiculous was the beautiful scroll, like something a medieval prince would use for a proclamation, announcing the time and location of the party.
So how did I finagle that invite? A fellow Jalopnik commenter set it all up for me! Seriously. Now this isn't your normal Jalopnik commenter. His name is Alfonso De Orleans and he is the team principal of the Race Engineering GP2 team. He also owns what might be the incredible Ferrari street car ever: A Ferrari 355 fitted with a proper F1 engine with paddle shift. And he used to race at places like Le Mans before deciding to run a team instead. And when I say raced, I mean he personally drove at Le Mans. In a Ferrari. Yeah he might be the greatest dude I've ever met and he was the one that made the introduction that got me on that mega yacht.
The 311 foot Indian Empress is the largest boat/ocean liner floaty thing that I've ever been on and is actually one of the largest private yachts in the world. The second level dance floor (the real party was on the roof!) was basically a cover over the hot tub. That's right, the boat's hot tub is larger than my bedroom. It also packs 30,000 horsepower.
We check in and hand over our shoes. I love how the coolest, most exclusive parties in Monaco don’t allow shoes because they are all on yachts. Hundreds of women showed up dressed to kill in 64 inch heels, but once inside they immediately have to go barefoot like everyone else. It also meant the dance floor was packed all night because no one was complaining of sore feet!
The party started on the second floor with an Indian fashion show. I didn’t totally understand why, but one ridiculously hot woman after another paraded onto the dance floor. All I know is that it was way better than any episode of Project Runway.
Especially because the champagne was endless from the moment you took your shoes off. I could stand all day drinking champagne and watching women parade down a runway. Seriously.
Once the show was over the sky deck opened. We thought the second floor was awesome but man that roof top deck was so cool. And because it was the largest boat in the harbor you could see everything around you including the Prince's Palace overlooking the harbor.
The Indian Empress is so large that the other boats around us looked small in comparison. As we got drunk we made horrible jokes in stuffy British accents.
Oh so sorry your boat is so small. Only one hot tub on the deck? Come back next year with something larger and maybe we'll stop by your party….
Of course that couldn't be farther from the truth. I was sleeping in the Fiesta ST that Ford loaned me. I casually checked to see if their were rooms left for Saturday night in Monaco and found one room – for $14,000! So I slept in my car during race weekend. And Monaco has the nicest parking garages on the planet which include power outlets. Presumably for electric cars not laptops and cameras...
Later I was asked where I was staying. And man did I want to tell the truth. I said something to the effect of "a beautiful place down the beach. Fiesta something or other…some American deal with a bright red exterior. Oh you don't know it? Yeah I think it's new…"
I can't say awesome enough times to describe the party's awesomeness. I'm married and think my wife is a supermodel herself, but you should have seen the women at this party! Ever see the Seinfeld episode where they get let into the model party at the warehouse? Yeah it was like that. But with an awesome DJ, tons of liquor and Monaco as the backdrop. And the who's who of racing was there.
Like these two guys. Alex Sauber and Kamui "Mr. Excitement" Kobayashi.
Yes a member of a Formula One family and a kickass driver. I didn't think it could be better. It was like a little bit of motorsport heaven. Really good guys. And I even got to shock them with my stories of the $500 rally car even though there is a lot of rallying in Europe.
The Baja Pig on the other hand was a crowd pleaser. They don't build weird stuff like that too often in Europe and you should have seen Alex's face when he realized what he was looking at. It was a basically a dream for me to share my exploits with these guys. That's when one of my favorite drivers of all time shows up.
Allan McNish! He doesn't need an introduction, but I'll give him one anyway. This is the dude who won Le Mans twice with Audi, drove for Toyota in F1, and is just 100 percent amazing. Someone told me he was set to continue racing F1 after his year with Toyota but ended up endurance racing instead.
Some of his drives as the sun were rising on the Mulsanne straight were just epic. Beautifully epic. The man can drive. And once again he was polite enough to listen to my story and ramblings. What a bunch of good guys. When it comes down to it they aren't all that different from us — they love cars as much as we do. They are just better at it and have bet everything, and I mean everything, on racing.
And then I saw Top Gear's own Jeremy Clarkson for a minute before heading back into the VIP area.
I showed him the Baja Pig as I have been tagging him in tweets about it for some time. He just looked at me and said "That's nice" in the most sarcastic tone I've probably ever heard. I asked him twice for a photo and he always said something like, "Yes, but just a second." And runs off. Hard to imagine he was one of the most popular people at the Grand Prix.
Seemed like a bit of a dick to me.
I got to meet David Hobbs as well as some Justin Bieber dude out of London – he said his music is awesome and his big album or something comes out in August so I grabbed a photo. Maybe you guys recognize him? He does have sweet hair. Look at those bangs!
The party seemed to go on forever! I loved it. Somewhere close to sunrise it finally ended and we walked back to Chez Fiesta. Along the way we stumbled into one of the coolest car collections buried in a parking garage below the Prince's Palace — something like 40 cars or so. It's kind of a long story how we ended up there but things like this happen when you party till sunrise. There were a few classic BMW's with less than 10,000 miles on them (like a 3.0CSi), a Ford Focus RS500, and exotic stuff like a brand new Lamborghini 25th anniversary edition Countach, but as I mentioned, that's a story for another time.
As for the party, it's easily the best motorsport party I've ever been to. And while I don't sell out or rep products I wouldn't buy with my own cash, I have to say that I have a new love for the Force India team. Seriously. Any race team that takes the time (and money) to throw a party of this magnitude is alright in my book. I was still rooting for Kimi and Webber on Sunday but the next team I looked for was Force India.
I know they'll never invite me back and that it was a one shot deal but I'm ok with that. Guys like me aren't supposed to be at the hippest party at one of the most exclusive races on the planet – I'm supposed to be with the mechanics or out in the parking lot crushing beers with my friends from Germany. So add to their amazing party, the fact that they let a guy like me in gives me a new respect for the Force India team. No way in hell a company like McLaren would throw a party like this or even open its doors for a guy like me.
Huge thanks to Alfonso, Force India, and Vijay Mallya for the amazing night in Monaco. Oh and Ford for providing me with a room at the Fiesta View Monaco.
Photos by Bill Caswell