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1950 Works HMW

1959 Nürburgring 1000Kms in Aston Martin DBR1 with Jack Fairman

by Philip Porter

In 1958, Moss had had to regain the lead once and later build one when his advantage had been wiped out by his slower team mate. A year later, he chose Jack Fairman to partner him as Jack was fast, reliable and consistent, rather than outstandingly quick. This one was really to stretch Stirling. 

1959 victory at Nurburgring

To add to the pressure, he had done a deal with Astons, who were intent on concentrating on Le Mans a fortnight later and the resultant publicity value should they be successful, to enter a single car at the 'Ring if he covered the expenses should it not win. Knowing Stirling's 'careful' attitude to financial matters, this was, as he now admits, pretty rash!

So, we had a lone Aston against the might of Ferrari and Porsche. The Aston was far from new and in fact this was the third successive year they had done this event, triumphing in the previous two. The Ferraris were quicker in practice. However, Moss made his usual brilliant start and led by 15 seconds after the first gruelling lap.

Stirling Moss 1959 victory at Nurburgring

For his first 16 flying laps he was under his 1958 record and built up an incredible six-minute lead. However, when Jack Fairman took over, it began to rain and made the conditions even more challenging. Luckily, Fairman was a highly experienced driver but he was not in the very top league. Then: disaster. One of the cursed slower competitors got in his way and forced Jack off into a ditch. It looked impossible. The rear of the car was beached.

Stirling Moss at Nurburgring

Now, as a young lad, Jack had worked for his father's laundry business. This often involved carrying very large, and heavy, baskets of clean laundry up several flights of stairs to the upper floors of commercial premises. As a result, Fairman developed exceptionally strong back muscles. He literally lifted the rear end of the big Aston out of the ditch.

Meanwhile, back in the pits, Stirling had given up hope and had started packing away his skid lid, goggles and shoes when someone yelled that Jack was on his way in. 

Stirling yanked poor old Fairman out of the driving seat and set off with a 77-second deficit.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it from that moment on. Here, I thought, was a good excuse for me to have a go; if the thing broke people would not say, 'He's a car-breaker'. They'd say: 'Oh boy, he had a go.' I went after the two Ferraris and started dicing; I took the lead again on lap 29 and built it up again to plus two minutes by lap 33, when I gave it back to Jack for two laps. Once again the Ferraris went at him and, when he came in on lap 35 for me to do the final nine laps, Phil Hill was 22 seconds in front.” 

Once again, Stirling pushed hard. Once again, the Aston responded and held together. By sheer brilliance, he once again caught and passed the flying Ferrari to take a fabulous victory for the duo and Aston Martin. 

By Philip Porter

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Chris Mann - February 9, 2022

Whilst this may be well known story for 50’s racing aficionados, it is good to be reminded once more just what a truly unique talent was the late, great Stirling Moss.
The Nurburgring truly separated the men from the boys and how often did Moss overcome the challenges of inferior machinery and, in this case, a trip into the scenery by his co-driver, to beat the best of the rest in superior machinery?
Over the 125 year history of motor racing there has been a fair few great drivers, but only a handful of truly great RACERS. Individuals who, time and again, transcended their machinery to win races they should have had no chance of winning. I believe that Stirling Moss, along with Nuvolari, was pre-eminent in this category. Who else? Gilles Villeneuve perhaps and in the modern era Lewis Hamilton who, despite his seven World Championships and 100+ race wins, is not, in my view, given the credit he is due.
Any other nominations for the pantheon of Great Racers?

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