"Jenks" was one of Britain’s foremost motor racing journalists for four decades. The continental correspondent of Motor Sport magazine from the late 1940s, his views and reports were considered essential reading by drivers, colleagues and enthusiasts alike.
Denis Jenkinson’s early love of the sport was only enhanced by watching the 1938 Donington Grand Prix. His engineering studies were interrupted by World War II and he was already not afraid to air his views. A conscientious objector throughout the conflict, he worked at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough and it was there that he met Motor Sport’s Editor Bill Boddy.
Success in sidecars and the Mille Miglia
Jenkinson was Eric Oliver’s passenger as they won the 1949 World Sidecar Championship but he could not fund further progress as a competitor. So he joined Motor Sport and spent his summers touring Europe in a Fiat 1500 to report on the continent’s major races.
But one event allowed Jenkinson to compete as a co-driver – the tortuous Mille Miglia. He was alongside George Abecassis in the 1954 event before spending three successive years reading notes for Stirling Moss. Their Mercedes-Benz 300SLR defeated team-mate Juan Manuel Fangio by some half an hour in 1955. Jenkinson may not have driven but his meticulous notes and instructions were crucial as Moss scored perhaps his most famous victory.
"Jenks" was something of an eccentric – living without electricity or creature comforts – but he was also a striking figure despite being just 5ft 2in tall. He remained the doyen of the F1 press room until leaving Motor Sport in 1993. He fell into ill-health in early 1996 – suffering a series of strokes before dying in the BEN nursing home near Ascot.
The initials DSJ at the end of an article were a stamp of quality and relevance during his years reporting on the sport.