Stirling Moss, Goodwood and '1 SWB'
Looking back, it was a race to mark the end of an era, although there was nothing to suggest it at the time. The 1%1 Goodwood Tourist Trophy was business as usual for Stirling Moss – a front row start, a lead established early in the race, a comfortable winning margin. Who would have guessed that this would be Stirling’s final TT win, or that on his return to the Sussex circuit the following season, Moss would suffer a crash which would end his career and so nearly take his life?
You could say that Moss and Goodwood had grown up together. The inaugural Goodwood meeting in September 1948 saw Stirling make his racing debut in a Cooper 500. Needless to say, he won. In the years that followed, no other driver would be more closely associated with the Sussex track, and in particular, the Tourist Trophy. Britain’s oldest motor race was hosted by Goodwood seven times, Of the nine Tourist Trophies which Stirling Moss contested at Goodwood and other venues, he won seven.
For much of Stirling’s career, it was team owner Rob Walker who provided the machinery through which he could express his talent, so it was fitting that his last IT victory should come at the wheel of a Rob Walker entered car. Walker had purchased another Ferrari 250 GT SWB to replace the car in which Moss had won the 1960 TT, and the Ferrari had already enjoyed considerable success before being brought to Goodwood. In 1961 chassis no2735 campaigned with its original Italian registration, but today it is better known as ‘1 SWB’, one of the most celebrated GT racing cars of all.
The first of the short wheelbase 250 GTs began production in 1959. Nimbler and lighter than the earlier 250s, they were the cars to have in GT racing at the beginning of the 60’s. The Colombo-designed 3-litre V12 of the earlier car was retained, but persistent development had boosted power to around 280bhp in competition guise. Beautiful handling and formidable straight-line speed made for a near-perfect balance of poise and power.
The combination of Stirling Moss and ‘1 SWB’ was to prove a match made in heaven. Paired with Graham Hill, Moss ran the car as high as third at Le Mans before succumbing to a broken radiator hose. Better was to follow with victories in the British Empire Trophy at Silverstone and the Peco Trophy at Brands Hatch. To many observers, back-to-back TT wins looked inevitable.
“So sure were the BARC that Moss would win that they had a cake made with seven candles on it to celebrate his seventh TT win,” noted September 1961’s Motor Sport. But there were plenty of famous names out to prevent Stirling from having his cake and eating it. Mike Parkes took pole in another of Maranello’s finest. Aston Martin fielded three works cars, two DB4 GT Zagatos for Roy Salvadori and Jim Clark, and a conventionally bodied 1)34 GT driven by [Tines Ireland. Five Porsches made up the cream of the 2-litre class, with the Abarth bodied car of Graham Hill in particular likely to keep the larger GT cars honest. Moss was clear favourite, but surely such a field would be no walk over?
Parkes made the best of a good start to lead into the first corner, but Stirling already looked menacing in second place, closely followed by the Aston Martins of Clark and Salvadori. Moss took the lead on lap eight while Salvadori, Clark and Ireland found themselves unable to match the pace of the two Ferraris.
In spite of his best efforts, Mike Parkes struggled to keep in touch with Moss. His driving became increasingly wild, clouting the fencing at the chicane on one lap and generally giving his tyres the severest punishment. Clark’s Aston dropped back as his boot lid came adrift and the Aston Martin pit called him in.
Parkes made his first stop to change his rear tyres after just 19 laps. Forty seconds later he was back on track Salvadori was next in, the heavier Aston rapidly wearing its tyres. With all four tyres changed and five more gallons of fuel on-board, he returned to the fray after just over a Minute. Moss held on until lap 24, taking just 34.9 seconds to change all four tyres and take on fuel. Once all the leading cars had pitted, his advantage over Parkes stood at a steady seven, seconds.
Moss remained unflustered and smooth, while Parkes pushed himself and his car hard to gain every last tenth. This more aggressive style took its toll, using much more rubber driving. The second round of stops saw Parkes drop well behind Moss, with all four tyres changed and 10 gallons of fuel added. But still Parkes kept up his pursuit, forcingall the speed he could from his Ferrari. In fact, he pushed too hard, another ‘off’ damaging the car causing part of the undertray to drag on the road. The Ferrari was black-flagged and. lost 70 seconds in the pits.
The battle was now for second place as Moss continued his serene progress. Such was Stirling’s lead that he still held a two lap advantage over Salvadori after stopping for a second time to replace all four tyres. Parkes had rejoined in fourth place, behind the Astons of Salvadori and Ireland. He now set about the task of regaining second with all the vigour with which he had chased Moss. After a third stop for tyres and fuel he found hints& back on the same lap as the two Aston Martins. A fourth and final pit stop seemed to have cost him the ground he had made up, but when the Astons also required one final stop in the dosing stages, Parkes was back in second place. Moss, of course, had long-since disappeared into the distance, crossing the line to win after three hours and 109 laps of racing.
It had been a triumph of finesse over force. While Mike Parkes needed four stops for tyres and fitted 12 new ones, Moss made just three stops for ’10 tyres. In qualifying, Parkes edged out Moss by 0.4 seconds. In the race, Moss took victory by more than a lap. Such is the margin between a very gifted racing driver and a truly great one. Although impressed by Stirling’s ‘drive, the contemporary Motor Sport would have preferred a rather less predictable result: “Perhaps next year the BARC could issue the results before the race it would save the 11/2 hour wait the Press men had this year.” But it was to be nearly forty years before the Goodwood Revival saw Moss, 1 SWB and the Goodwood circuit reunited.