Book Review: Lap of Honour — a photographic journey with Sir Stirling Moss

Books about Stirling Moss are no rarity, but few offer the sort of slant Lap of Honour provides, says Gordon Cruickshank

Stirling Moss lap of honour

Lap of Honour is chock-full of period images, which are enriched by Moss’s personal recollections

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You’d be forgiven for thinking this was just about maestro Moss, but the word ‘with’ in the subtitle hints at what’s different. Hain was an amateur photographer and race fan (as well as a kart racer) who had a burst of snappery at circuits in the 1960s, when Stirling inevitably became his hero, and then dropped cameras for guitars and girls. But with the growth of historic racing, and especially the resurgence of Goodwood, his enthusiasm sparked again and he reconnected with the cars and many of the people he had watched as a child – especially Moss. A series of encounters with the now- retired ace led to a friendship built around Hain’s photographs old and new and much input from the great man to the book, where he comments on photos Hain shows him.

Not that it’s always informative: Hain likes to quote conversations even when showing Moss a photo and getting the answer “I don’t remember that”. Some, though, add colourful detail to a grainy photo. And there are scads of pictures, some great, some not, many of ‘Mr Motor Racing’ snapped in 33 different cars, in both his first and second race careers and afterwards.

To vary the mix (and this is a massive 415-page volume) Hain diverts to other topics, such as a conversation with Aston Martin racer Eric Thompson, who it turns out went out with Hain’s mother, leading to an exchange of photos. In that sense it is somewhat like listening in to private family reminiscing. There are long transcripts of chats with Bette Hill, John Whitmore and others, some interesting and some merely the conversations we all have at race meetings. Then there will be a sudden choice nugget of recollection, such as the trivial sum Ray Bellm paid for a pair of Williams Formula 1 cars, or the fact that Stirling once introduced a run of Jethro Tull concerts… Music is the other part of Hain’s life – he’s a singer-songwriter – so musical references pop up: it’s not often you’ll see Edison Lighthouse mentioned in a racing book, and there’s another Moss appreciation by Mark Knopfler.