I was looking forward to the Stirling Moss Tribute day at Brooklands on 12 September and it didn’t disappoint. Apart, that is, with the date. It was my 51st wedding anniversary so I felt limited in the time I could stay there. Even so, I enjoyed myself
The attendance seemed high and by the time I left, a little after 11 AM, it was packed and it was impossible to get a clear photograph. Here are some taken by an early bird: me.
The two short wheelbase Ferrari GT 250s were there, in identical livery, and it would have been a sham if both were not. But it wasn’t all the same old cars.
There was the 1957 BMW 600 bubble car, owned and driven by Moss on the road in London. He was a brave man. A 1972 Canon Sporting Trials Car, competed by Moss with his crew being Autocar’s editor, Peter Garnier, in a celebrity trial in 1973, was a complete surprise to me, and all the better for it.
Another new one for me was the 1936 Delahaye 135S once owned by Rob Walker no less, following an impulse purchase in 1938. The programme states that it was considered to be the fastest road car in the world. It looked fabulous.
The contrast between the crude looking, although technically clever, Cannon against the elegant bodywork of the Delahaye is remarkalbe. Both driven by Moss.
A car of the same vintage, the 1937 BMW Fraser Nash 328, which had been raced by Moss at the start of his career was something of a highlight for me.
There were a couple of XK 120s, one being the open topped and screenless alloy bodied one which Moss and Lesley Johnson were the first to break 100 miles an hour for 24 hours in a production car, the average being 107.46 mph, which included stops for fuel and tyres.
I had a metal model of this car, modified by my uncle, rather crudely. The other 120 was a Jaguar works car supplied to Moss.
The rather famous Aston Martin DB2 that Moss drove in the 1950 Daily Express 1000-mile rally was there. Moving on to 1951, we had the HWM Alta, one of five built and raced by the team which included the 21-year-old Moss. There was the very
pretty Sunbeam Alpine Mark one, rallied successfully by Moss in 1953 and 1954. From the latter year there was the Lister Bristol, driven by a list of famous drivers, including Moss. From the same year we had a Connauht A-Type Long Chassis.
I spent some time drooling over the 1954 Maserati 250F, which Fangio took to 1st place in the Argentinian and Belgium Grands Prix in 1954, and Moss took to 1st place in the Monaco and Monza Grands Prix in 1956. I’m glad I got there early as even by 1030, there was a crowd around it.
There was a Vanwall from 1957. It’s not clear from the programme as to if this was the specific car, but a Vanwall won the 1957 British Grand Prix, the model winning the inaugural Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship in 1958. I must have drawn this car as a child hundreds of times.
An F2 Cooper T45 and T51 graced the display, the latter I saw racing, at least according to the programme I had, but unfortunately remember little of it. I spoke with John Cooper at the 1966 British Grand Prix, so I’m a fan of all his cars.
There were two Lotus 18s that Moss had raced in. One, Hartog’s, wasn’t in the programme, so a pleasant surprise to find it displayed. It was, as ever, pristine. The other was the one Moss drove to his famous win in Monaco against the more powerful V6 Ferrarisdubbed the ‘shark nose’. Moss also took first place at the German GP that years. The in-line 4-cylinder Climax engine was a stop-gap for the two seasons F1 was run to F2 spec.
I don’t want you to get me wrong. I not only can see the point of building replicas of famous sports cars, especially those with history. What I struggle with is showing them at events such as this when there’s a genuine one on diplay. Here are two 1957 Vanwalls. The one nearest the camera is an excellent replica. The one next to it is the real business.
The cream of the display for me was the Lotus 19. It was chassis 953, just about as steeped in history as a car can get. Apart from Moss, it was driven my Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Innes Ireland. Can any racing sports car beat that line-up? I saw it race as a kid. I loved it.
The only gap, and an unfortunate one, was the 1955 Mille Miglia- winning Mercedes-Benz 300SLR, surely the car that Moss drove to his most famous win. The story of this epic win was told by Dennis Jenkinson in a riveting article in Motor Sport. It was all the more surprising as that very car, with its 722 racing number still carried, was not five minutes’ walk away in Mercedes-Benz World.
In normal circumstances, the 300SLR would have got pride of place, and probably the largest image, but if Mercedes-Benz can’t be arsed, neither can I.
Apart from the missing piece, it was a good morning, especially given it was my 51st wedding anniversary. There were other cars but I wanted my page to load in less than a day.
There was an incredible number of 7s on display.