Tag Archives: Rob Walker

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A Celebration of Rob Walker

Dorking is a quiet market town located in a very attractive part of Surrey’s North Downs, local landmarks include Box Hill and Denbies Vineyard. For those of us with inclination to burn petrol at speed Dorking will forever be associated with R.R.C. Walker Racing that was located at the Pippbrook Garage in the heart of this community.

Robert Ramsay Campbell Walker was born on August 14th 1917, so staging the Rob Walker Centenary Festival  in October 2018 seems a little odd, perhaps too much time spent at Denbies…….but I digress and I must say that the organisers did a first class job in honouring this sometimes overlooked, but hugely influential, figure in post-War British motor sport.

The numerous spectators that witnessed the demonstration of old racers around the closed streets were given a raucous display. Robbie Walker was on hand to enjoy this fine tribute to his father.

Another son representing a famous father, was David Brabham, a top flight sportscar driver and Le Mans winner in his own right. Sir Jack Brabham was one of three Formula One World Champions who drove for Walker, the other pair were Jochen Rindt and Graham Hill.

However it is the relationship and deep friendship between Rob Walker and Sir Stirling Moss that the team is arguably most famous for. In the period from 1958 to 1961 Stirling scored seven Grand Prix wins for the team, most notably in 1961 at Monte Carlo and the Nürburgring, seeing off the more powerful Ferrari squad through sheer talent and determination. Regrettably Sir Stirling’s health is not up to public appearances at present so his absence left a big gap that the organisers filled admirably in a most appropriate fashion.

Moss was rightly famous and revered as a Grand Prix star, indisputably the leader of the pack after Fangio retired. However his exploits in endurance racing are just as notable. The ’55 Mille Miglia triumph in the Mercedes-Benz is legendary as are the Nürburgring 1000kms wins in ’58 and ’59 for Aston Martin. In 1960 Moss won the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood driving a Ferrari 250 GT SWB #2119, an achievement in itself but staggering when one considers that it was two months and one day after his horrific accident at Spa in the Belgian Grand Prix. Doctors forecast a minimum recovery period of six months but Moss was able to recuperate way faster than that. It later emerged that he had tuned in the Ferrari’s radio to hear the commentary of Raymond Baxter as rattled off the laps. This beautiful Ferrari is now the proud possession of one Ross Brawn, a real enthusiast.

Almost exactly a year later and Moss was back at Goodwood in another 250 GT SWB, this time #2735. Frankly the opposition was not the strongest and consisted of another 250 GT SWB, driven by Mike Parkes and three Essex Racing Team Aston Martin DB4 GTs, two of which were Zagato-bodied and driven by Roy Salvadori and Jim Clark. The third was an ordinary DB4 GT in the hands of Innes Ireland. Moss won with ease in the end after a crash in practice, there was no word as to whether he turned on the radio………..

These Ferraris are amongst the most elegant of all GT cars…………and here there were a brace – Bellissimo!

The weather was kind and a great time was had by all who attended, let’s hope that this event becomes a tradition……………in the meantime enjoy another stunning portfolio of photos from Simon – Bellissimo indeed!

John Brooks November 2018

A Last Lap at The Revival

The nights are drawing in, winter is on the way, a hard one after this year’s tropical summer say the usual prophets of doom. Well in that case we will need all the warmth of our memories to get us through to 2019 and Spring.

The Goodwood Revival is one of the signs that this part of the journey through the year is heading to the close. The 2018 edition was of the highest standard, both on and off the track, so much to see and experience.

The tribute to Rob Walker and his team, Rob Walker Racing, was a particular treat. The Goodwood Revival is an ideal platform for such expressions of respect, the audience has a strong element who will understand the significance of the cars they are seeing and will appreciate the efforts expended in assembling such a collection. Incidentally I came across this news the other day. “The Rob Walker Centenary Festival, organised by the Dorking Town Partnership, takes place on Sunday 21st October, 10am-4pm, with a parade of historic Rob Walker racing cars around the town.”  More information can be found HERE

 

Another salute at the Revival was to one of motorsport’s greats, Dan Gurney, who passed away in January. The 1967 Belgian Grand Prix winning Eagle-Westlake that Gurney drove was given an outing by Sir Jackie Stewart and Derek Bell, the former seen here chewing the fat with Jo Ramirez.

The Eagle-Westlake is surely the leading contender for the most handsome F1 car ever built, perhaps a little too advanced for its time, still stunning though.

While the cars are the stars the drivers do not feel completely in the shade, they are part of the show too. Here we have no fewer than 15 Le Mans victories lined up in this quartet. Andre Lotterer is still attempting to add to his hat-trick of wins, while Emanuele Pirro and Derek Bell will have to settle for five apiece. Odd man out Nic Minassian managed second in 2008 when his dominant Peugeot should have won comfortably.  He was a victim of monsoon rains and the performance of a lifetime from Audi’s Tom Kristensen, Dindo Capello and Allan McNish.

The ability of the public to interact with these stars of the track is one of the enduring attractions at Goodwood. Whether they would want to so in the case of this dodgy trio comprising of Steve Soper, Martin Donnelly and Dario Franchitti remains open to question.

There were the usual thespian antics on hand at the Revival, a modern day end of the pier show, well it takes all sorts.

 

RAF Westhampnett was on the front line during the Second World War and after the end of hostilities became the Goodwood circuit. So it is absolutely appropriate that the service to Britain that the men and women gave in that perilous time is honoured.

Away from the track and paddock there are many attractions and diversions, it would take more than three days of the event to sample them all.

 

It is a cliche, but rooted in truth as many cliches are, the Goodwood Revival is a must-do celebration of post-war motoring and motorsport. Looking forward to September 2019 let’s be inspired by this fabulous gallery from Simon Hildrew. Every picture tells a story.

John Brooks, September 2018