A volunteer member of the Automobile Club of Monaco since 1972, like its President Michel Boeri, Jean-Michel Matas is excited for a new edition of the iconic Monte-Carlo Rally. We spoke to the legend.
He dives into his box of keepsakes and pulls out a number. “49,” he said with a smile. “It will be my 49th Monte-Carlo Rally”. Since the downpours of the 1972 edition, Jean-Michel Matas has never missed a Monte-Carlo race. In fact, this year would have been its golden anniversary if the 1974 edition had not been canceled following the 1973 oil crisis.
A deep love of rallying and motorsport
Rallying has always been a great passion for this lover of the Automobile Club of Monaco (ACM), having competed in rallies in his youth at regional level, but his baptism of fire in ACM was during the Formula 1 Grand Prix “I was a marshal coming out of the S-bends at the pool,” he recalls. “I then rose through the ranks until I became Deputy Marshal General in charge of the Corps of Marshals.”
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A logical rise since Jean-Michel Matas has always invested body and soul in the Automobile Club of Monaco. “He is a volunteer with a capital V, and loyal to his president”, confides Alain Pallanca, race director of the Rallye Monte-Carlo, whose membership of the ACM goes in part to Jean-Michel Matas. “He is an adorable person, who has devoted his life to others, in particular through his involvement in several Monegasque charities.”
I would like to withdraw, I advance a little, but I still like it so much. The fire is still burning.
The two men met almost forty years ago, in a professional capacity. Born in Bordeaux, the “boss” of the Marshals of the ACM moved to Menton at a very young age and followed in his father’s footsteps by working in a property management company. “A fantastic job”, which led him to meet Alain Pallanca, who was then working as an insurance expert.
A huge responsibility in the Automobile Club
“One morning, I had planned an appointment in the village of Moulinet to attend the special that was happening there,” says the current race director of the Monte-Carlo Rally and the Formula 1 Grand Prix. “I came across Jean-Michel and I wondered what he was doing there, because it was not his field. And that’s the day I joined the Automobile Club de Monaco.
Passionate about motorsport from an early age, “even before I got my license, I took a moped to see the stages of the Turini”, Jean-Michel Matas has known everything during his long career at the ACM. “I would like to retire, I am moving forward a little, but I still like it so much. The fire is still burning. »
This year we could have electrical problems with the new regulations for hybrid cars
As he prepares to take part in his 49th Monte-Carlo Rally, the man responsible for no less than 850 marshals during the Formula 1 Grands Prix spoke about the new features for marshals this year. “This year we could have electrical problems with the new regulations for hybrid cars, so a lot of training was needed in this regard, with the support of the Monaco fire brigade, who are specialists in this field.
As every year, the marshals who will ensure safety on the route of the Monte-Carlo Rally followed a refresher course in order to perfect their knowledge. “It helps us get back to it. But it helps to build team spirit among the marshals. “We have a real esprit de corps. It is no coincidence that we call ourselves Corps of Marshals. All of these volunteers do amazing things at every race. We must congratulate them,” concludes Jean-Michel Matas.
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