Glasgow start for Monte Carlo rally drivers

Austin Healey 3000 MK II The cars set off from Glasgow, on a 2,000km journey to Monte Carlo

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Dozens of pre-1974 cars have set off from Glasgow as the city acts as one of several European starting points for the 2011 Monte Carlo Classic Rally.

Competitors from four continents set off in 49 cars from the city's Blythswood Square at 1830 GMT.

Glasgow previously served as a starting venue for racers from 1949 until 1973.

The rally returned to the city to mark its centenary year. The event is expected to bring more than £1m of business to Glasgow.

Scotland's first world rally champion Louise Aitken-Walker led the competitors off in her capacity as the course car celebrity.

The 1990 Ladies World Rally Champion, twice winner of the coveted 'Coup de Dames' in the modern version of the rally, was driving a works replica Austin Healey 3000 from the start ramp outside Blythswood Square Hotel.

Classic cars

Before it became a hotel, the venue was the former headquarters of the Royal Scottish Automobile Club - a favourite starting point for drivers in the 1950s and 1960s.

Cars which have set from Glasgow included classic Jaguars, Healeys, Lancias and Mini Coopers.

The drivers will travel 2,000km from the city to Monte Carlo in Monaco - a journey expected to take about two days.

Other starting cities are Marrakesh, Warsaw, Barcelona and Reims.

The rally was created by Prince Albert I of Monaco and initially featured 23 cars starting from six different European cities.

Only 16 completed it in 1911, with Henri Rougier winning in a Turcat-Mery.

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