At the time of their installation, at one of the oldest auto racing venues in the world, curves using porphyry pavers were the most technically appropriate materials known.
Since 1922, the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza has hosted scores of famous races for both automobiles and motorcycles including 60 Italian Grand Prix. In 1938 extensive modifications to the racing facilities at Monza were begun. On the road circuit the central straight was shifted westward and linked to the grandstand straight by two 90 degree bends with 60-metre (646 ft) radii, which were called the “porphyry bends” due to the stone paving applied. With its renewed facilities, the Autodrome was host to all the events between 1949 and 1954. The original postwar Monza course’s final corner – or rather pair of corners – were the porphyry curves, the two unbanked right-angles leading the course round from the back straight onto the home or pits straight. They were surfaced with porphyry block setts which provided a relatively smooth form of ‘cobbled’ surface. Such blocks had been employed in many areas of Monza since its original construction between the World Wars.
In 1955 it was decided to undertake works which would transform the entire installation, making it more functional. A circuit with total length of 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) was put back in use including, like the original 1922 plan, a road section and a high-speed section meeting the new competition requirements and suitable for record attempts.
Concerning the road course, the length was reduced by shortening the central straight and the grandstand straight and building on the south a curve with a single pitch and a slight cross slope. This curve had an increasing radius toward the exit and was called the “parabolic” for this reason. It replaced the two porphyry paved curves. When the porphyry blocks were lifted during construction of the Pista de Alta Velocita speedbowl 1954-55 they were re-used, joining others already surfacing much of the paddock area.
Just as road racing contributed to the evolution of automobiles, so did the race courses contribute to our knowledge of roadways. Sections of the Reims-Gueux and Rouen les Essarts road circuits also included cobbled hairpins. There was hardly a French or Belgian (or Swiss) public road circuit which did not include some stretches surfaced with stone setts, pavee or cobbles.
Porphyry’s composition determines its high compression strength, resistance to stains, slip resistance, and high freeze/thaw ratings. The stone is the most popular paver in Europe, and is favored for its flexibility in design, beauty, durability and low maintenance requirements. ADA Compliant Porphyry pavers are also adaptable to a permeable paving set. The stone is by far one of the most durable pavers in the world. These materials are available from Milestone Imports. – www.milestoneimports.com