Wherever he went, he won, and usually with his favourite number 7 on the car. Goodwood was a circuit he loved, with its fast, flowing corners, and this despite the accident that so abruptly ended his career in 1962. " I don't remember it old boy," he always tells me, " but when I came back to the circuit for a day, to see if I still had what it takes, I realised there was something missing. If you're not there to win, there's no point being there." Having won his first race at Goodwood he was chasing Graham Hill that afternoon, on his way to winning, but he inexplicably crashed on the entry to St Mary's corner. Nobody knows why to this day.
I went to see Stirling and Susie just a couple of weeks ago and together they are managing his illness with the bravery and fortitude that has seen them survive so many of Stirling's scrapes over the years. He won't be coming back to Goodwood, he won't be imparting his wisdom in public anymore, but for me, he will always be Mister Goodwood, inextricably a part of our motorsport history. In Goodwood's heyday, Stirling was at the height of his powers, a towering talent who, thanks to his insistence on driving British cars, never won a World Championship but who was adored and revered the world over.
The Festival, and especially the Revival, will simply not be the same without him. We will miss the most versatile driver the world has ever seen. His spirit, however, will always be felt at the motor circuit where both my Grandfather and I have been privileged to count him as a friend. For now, all of us wish this truly great character a speedy recovery.
Photography courtesy of LAT Images