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Goodwood Revival revs up with tribute to legend Sir Stirling Moss

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A previous rubber-burning start of an RAC TT Celebration at Goodwood Revival
A previous rubber-burning start of an RAC TT Celebration at Goodwood Revival

GOODWOOD Revival, one of the world’s biggest historic race meetings, starts today (Friday) with a big list of star drivers and bike racers in a priceless collection of machinery – and pays tribute to legend Sir Stirling Moss who is 90 next week.

He is not expected to be at the salute but it was 60 years ago last week, in 1959, that Moss starred when Goodwood hosted one of the most important and dramatic races in the annals of British motorsport.

Aston Martin survived six hours of high drama to claim the world sportscar title at the RAC Tourist Trophy – and this weekend the sell-out crowds for the 2019 Goodwood Revival are set to relive the occasion in the time-warp setting where every racegoer wears period attire.

Organiser and host the Duke of Richmond said: “The 1959 Tourist Trophy was without doubt the most momentous race that Goodwood staged in period, and it delivered a true landmark in British motoring when Aston Martin claimed the World Sportscar Championship.

“We shall be celebrating that extraordinary performance to the fullest, as well as toasting the 90th birthday of Sir Stirling Moss, by recapturing the entire spectacle of the occasion when we open the 2019 Goodwood Revival. I am sure that our visitors will be amazed.”

The 2007 salute to Sir Stirling Moss and Roy Salvador
The 2007 salute to Sir Stirling Moss and Roy Salvador

Goodwood has played key roles in the life of the legend known as the greatest champion that never was, runner-up in the Formula 1 Drivers' Championship four years in succession, from 1955 to 1958, and third in each of the next three.

But in 1962, he crashed his Lotus heavily during the Glover Trophy race at Goodwood on Easter Monday. The accident put him in a coma for a month, and for six months he was partially paralysed. He recovered, but retired from professional racing, moving to racing historic cars for their owners.

When the then Earl of March, now the Duke of Richmond, launched the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 1993, he chose Stirling and John Surtees as patrons.

The landmark race remembered this weekend in tribute to Sir Stirling was the 1959 RAC TT at Goodwood, the final race of the World Sportscar Championship season, with three manufacturers – Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin – vying for one of the most prestigious titles in motorsport.

Ferrari led the championship on 18 points, Aston Martin was second on 16, and Porsche was just one point behind.

The British team, managed by the redoubtable John Wyer, brought three DBR1 cars for Stirling Moss/Roy Salvadori, Carroll Shelby/Jack Fairman and Maurice Trintignant/Paul Frère.

The Moss/Salvadori car sprinted into an early lead but when Salvadori pitted for fuel the hose was knocked open too early and the spillage burst into flames. Chaos reigned until the fire was out, and the injured and burned car removed.

His own car out of the running, Stirling leapt into the number 2 car of Shelby/Fairman and delivering a spellbinding performance to make up for lost time, crossing the line to take victory one lap ahead of the leading Ferrari and Porsche – thereby giving Aston Martin the world crown.

The 2007 Revival featured a salute to Salvadori, five years before he died, with the 1959 victors sharing their old car for a parade.

Knighted in 2000 for services to motor sport, Sir Stirling’s 80th birthday fell on the eve of the 2009 Revival and Lord March celebrated with an 80-car parade on each of the three days. Moss drove a different car each day - a Mercedes W196, the Lotus 18 in which he had won the 1961 Monaco GP, and an Aston Martin DBR3.

But six months later he broke both ankles and four bones in a foot, and also chipped four vertebrae and suffered skin lesions, when he fell down a lift shaft at his home.

He gradually recovered but in December 2016 he was admitted to hospital in Singapore with a serious chest infection. As a result of this and a subsequent lengthy recovery, Sir Stirling announced his retirement from public life in January 2018.

But taking centre stage this weekend are plenty of modern day heroes, including British ace Dario Franchitti who returns to competition for the first time since 2013 when an Indycar crash ended his career.

The 46-year-old from West Lothian - four-time IndyCar Series champion, three times winner of the Indianapolis 500 as well as a winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona - will take the wheel of two legendary sports cars from the 1960s in the main GT races at the world’s leading historic motorsport event.

Friday evening at the Revival means one thing: the Kinrara Trophy, believed to field the world’s most valuable race cars with a total value in excess of £200m racing through the sunset and Franchitti will make his Revival debut in a fabulous Ferrari 250 GT SWB.

On ‘Super Sunday’, the legends will gather for the RAC Tourist Trophy Celebration race in which Franchitti will drive an AC Cobra that first competed at the 1963 Le Mans 24 Hours. He will join a field including nine-times Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen and former Formula 1 racer Emmanuele Pirro.

Franchitti said: “I really thought my racing days were behind me but it is tough to give up something that has been a part of my life for so long and that I love so much. Of course, this won’t mean a return to front line competition – so no Indy 500 – simply enjoying the sport I love as an amateur.”

Sharing the cockpit with Franchitti for the RAC TT Celebration will be Gregor Fisken. This car was entered at the Le Mans 24 Hours by the works team managed by none other than Stirling Moss.

The RAC TT Celebration and Kinrara Trophy form two highlights of the Goodwood Revival weekend, with parades marking another 60th anniversary – that of the ubiquitous Mini, its drivers including 20-year-old double amputee racer Billy Monger..

An all-action schedule will be held throughout the three days, including the Glover Trophy for 1960s Formula 1 cars, the St Mary’s Trophy for 1950s touring cars, the Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy for historic motorcycles and a special Brooklands Trophy for Bentley sports cars that competed at Le Mans in the 1920s and 1930s.

World-famous racers competing at this year’s Revival including four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon, 31-time MotoGP race winner Dani Pedrosa, former Formula 1 drivers David Brabham and Jochen Mass, five-times Le Mans winner Derek Bell, Isle of Man TT legend John McGuinness and Superbike star James Whitam.

Returning again after setting a new fastest ever time up the Goodwood Hill at the 2019 Festival of Speed, Romain Dumas will be behind the wheel of an AC Cobra in the RAC TT Celebration and a Ford Thunderbird in the St Mary’s Trophy

There will also be former Toro Rosso Formula 1 driver and 2017 Le Mans winner Brendon Hartley, former F1 racer and current Sky Sports F1 presenter Karun Chandhok, and Revival regulars renowned F1 designer Adrian Newey and current Red Bull team principal Christian Horner while actor Rowan Atkinson also makes a return.

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