Motorsports is filled with records and achievements, with people constantly breaking those set by others before them. But one record that has been set and remains very challenging to break is the unofficial Triple Crown. But what is it and who holds the record as the only person to have achieved it?
The three races
While the Triple Crown isn’t an official crown, title or achievement, it is generally recognised to be something that is very hard to achieve. It involves winning three of the most prestigious races in world motorsport during the course of a driver’s career. The three races are:
- The Monaco Grand Prix
- Indianapolis 500
- 24 Hours of Le Mans
Monaco Grand Prix
The Monaco street circuit is widely seen as one of the biggest tests of driver ability in the Formula 1 championship. The race has been held since 1929 and takes place through the narrow streets of Monaco, around the harbour area. While it may not have the high speeds of some of the race track circuits, it is a dangerous place to race and there have even been two occasions where drivers ended up in the harbour after a crash.
The Indy 500 is held every year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana. The race is part of the IndyCar Series, the top level of American Championships Car racing. The race was first held in 1911 and became part of the IndyCar series in 1996. It covers 200 counter-clockwise laps of the circuit and drivers race for 500 miles.
24 Hours of Le Mans
24 Hours of Le Mans is the oldest endurance car race in the world and started back in 1923. It is held near the French town of Le Mans across the Circuit de la Sarthe, a mixture of public roads and a specialist circuit that offers different challenges for drivers. It is currently part of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Winning the Triple Crown
Currently, only one person has ever completed the Triple Crown – Britain’s Graham Hill. He won the Monaco Grand Prix five times between 1963 and 1969 and the Le Mans race in 1972 as well as the Indy 500 in 1966. He also managed two F1 championships amid all of that!
Currently, there is one driver who is still driving and has completed two of the three parts of the Triple Crown. Juan Pablo Montoya is currently racing in IndyCar series and won the Indy 500 in both 2000 and 2015 as well as the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix. Others who came close included Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti, Joshed Rend and Jim Clark.
During the lead up to this year’s F1 Monaco Grand Prix, there was some interest in the Triple Crown as McLaren’s Fernando Alonso decided not to race it in favour of racing in the Indy 500 – the two are held on the same weekend. He has won the Monaco Grand Prix on two previous occasions in 2006 and 2007 so perhaps next year he will once again try to add another notch on achieving the elusive Triple Crown!