Been there, dune that


I am delighted that you made Stirling Moss 'Best All-rounder' — but you don't know the half of it!

In 1974, the late Henry Liddon and I organised the 17,000km London-Sahara-Munich World Cup Rally. Stirling and Michael Taylor entered Michael's factory-prepared Mercedes 280E, with Allan Sell, a brilliant Mercedes mechanic.

The route back to the North African coast from Tamanrasset in the Sahara was dreadful. In case cars got into trouble, I rented two Land-Rovers and drivers, and followed the last car on the route.

Some two days later we found the Moss/Taylor car and its worried crew beside an abandoned fort. They had been there for over 30 hours. The Mercedes' battery was kaput, so they had wisely opted to stay by the ruins rather than stall the car and be unable to start again. I said I would get them to the nearest airport, but that they should abandon the cat Michael said, "No problem, let's go!" Stirling said, "Michael, I'll buy it from you for £500, ifJim will give me just one tow start; if it breaks down again I'll leave it."

They shook hands on the deal, we gave the car a tow start and Stirling limped it to the next town (100 miles on) where we left it with the local Maine. They flew to London, where Stirling organised the car's retrieval, did it up, and made a profit on it!

And lawn-mower racing?

Stirling had heard of our British Lawn Mower Racing Association and asked if he could come and play. "Sure", said I. Stirling borrowed a Westwood Lawnbug and came to several of our afternoon races (his first racing since 1962), then co-opted Derek Bell as a co-driver and won our annual 12-hour race at his first attempt.