Video: Why the Aston Martin DBR1 is so special

06th August 2020
Henry Biggs

Some cars, sadly, are just too rare to risk in the wheel-to-wheel racing that takes place at the Goodwood Revival. But thankfully, we are often lucky enough to see the same cars tackle the Shootout at the Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard.

The Aston Martin DBR1 is one such car but with the way it is being flung up the Hill means we don’t mind too much missing out on watching it race at the Revival.

The DRB1 was in fact the star of one of the most famous races to ever take place at Goodwood in its heyday, the 1959 RAC TT. It is also the story of how Aston Martin won the World Sportscar Championship, beating both Ferrari and Porsche to the title in a nailbiting season climax, in a race it never intended to enter.

Aston Martin’s original focus in 1959 was solely Le Mans, with the improved version of the DBR1 which had debuted two years earlier. However, the prize money on offer persuaded the marque to enter the WSC’s opener at the Sebring 12 Hours and Stirling Moss pushed for an entry in the Nürburgring 1,000Km.

Sebring wasn’t a success, with the gearlever of the car coming off in driver Carroll Shelby’s hand but Moss won at the Green Hell, despite a crash by his co-driver Jack Fairman. That did cut Moss’s victory margin from half a lap to 40 seconds however.

Victory at Le Mans shortly afterwards suddenly left Aston Martin just two points behind Ferrari in the championship standings, with Porsche one point further back still. So a three-car assault on the six-hour RAC Tourist Trophy at Goodwood was organised. Disastrously the Moss-Salvadori car caught fire in the pitlane, destroying both the car and the garage.

However, Moss was given the Fairman-Shelby car and privateer Graham Whitehead retired his own DBR1 from the race to allow Aston Martin to take over his pit. In the end the Moss car finished a lap up on the second place Porsche 718 RSK of Wolfgang von Trips and Jo Bonnier. So, a surprise win not only of the race but the entire championship for Aston Martin which promptly withdrew from sportscar racing to focus on Formula 1.

We hope that the new race formats we have developed for Goodwood SpeedWeek in October, including a special shootout at the Goodwood Motor Circuit, mean that we may see cars like the Aston Martin DBR1 once again driven at the limit around the track. Join us from 16-18 October for a digital broadcast on Goodwood Road & Racing or our social channels to find out.

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