Sixty years ago today, on 5th September 1959, Goodwood played host to 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 at the RAC Tourist Trophy – and next Friday, 13th September, visitors to the 2019 Goodwood Revival are set to be transported back to relive the occasion in full.
The Revival will take the opportunity to bring a remarkable race back to life not only in celebration of Aston Martin’s landmark anniversary, but also as part of the birthday celebrations being staged to honour Sir Stirling Moss, who will turn 90 on 17th September.
The 1959 RAC TT at Goodwood was the final race of the World Sportscar Championship season and three manufacturers – Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin – were vying to claim one of the most prestigious titles in motorsport. The campaign had begun with Ferrari claiming victory at Sebring, then Porsche had mastered the Targa Florio before Aston Martin won back-to-back honours at the Nürburgring 1000km and Le Mans 24 Hours.
When the field of 31 entries arrived at Goodwood for the deciding race of the season, Ferrari led the championship on 18 points, Aston Martin was second on 16, and Porsche was just a single 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. Scuderia Ferrari had four cars entered for drivers including Phil Hill, Olivier Gendebien, Dan Gurney and Tony Brooks, while the works Porsches would be driven by a line-up including Wolfgang von Trips, Jo Bonnier, Umberto Maglioli and Hans Herrmann.
The Moss/Salvadori car sprinted off into an early lead but when Salvadori pitted for fuel the hose, operated by design engineer Brian Clayton, was knocked open too early and the spillage burst into flames. Chaos briefly reigned until the fire was out, and the injured parties and singed car were removed.
After the initial shock wore off, privateer Aston Martin entrant Graham Whitehead withdrew his car in order to allow the works team to use his pit area (their own having been rendered inoperable by the fire) and British hopes were lifted once again.
With his own car out of the running, Stirling Moss leapt into the number 2 car of Shelby/Fairman and set about making up for lost time. Delivering a spellbinding performance, Moss would cross the line to take victory one lap ahead of the leading Porsche and Porsche – thereby giving Aston Martin the world championship crown.
The Duke of Richmond commented: “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 on Friday will be amazed.”