Representing Discovery UK at Race Retro in 2013, I was fortunate enough to sit down for (literally) a few words with Sir Stirling Moss and Murray Walker. Given the noise level in the press room it became clear that we’d struggle to capture sound of sufficient quality to feature the interviews on the Discovery website, so casting aside the usual nonsense about how he was enjoying the show I asked his opinions on a few of his contemporaries, and his unfulfilled plans for ’62.
He was one of the best drivers of his time and I think obviously he would have improved with experience – he died really rather young.
Do you think that the relationship between Collins and Hawthorn did him a disservice at Ferrari?
Possibly, I don’t know how the politics went at Ferrari, because he certainly wasn’t an easy man, but in truth I just don’t know.
He was a funny bloke, quite amusing. Very competent driver, mostly in sports cars, though he did of course do Formula 1. Just one of those guys who made up the season, you know, another person who came in, there were only about 18 cars so I got to know him quite well.
Well Stuart Lewis-Evans was one of the fastest drivers in the world, I mean he really was exceptionally fast and in fact, unfortunately as you know he had an accident and maybe he was going a little bit too quickly. But he was a very competent driver – even though he was quite a small guy, he was pretty wiry.
I think that was the reason Tony Vandervell gave up – once he’d beaten the red cars he’d done what he wanted to do, and the tragedy made him think ‘well, I don’t want to go on anymore’
Well Archie, the fact that he only had a stump for an arm didn’t make any damn difference at all. He was exceptionally competent, a very nice guy and a great loss to the sport, really.
Innes Ireland – do you think his reputation as a bon viveur belied his talent?
Yes, well Innes was a character – motor racing needs characters – and he was also a very fast driver. I mean he was, for quite a long time, as fast as Jim Clark when he was driving the same cars at Lotus. He was such a fun person to have around. I think Colin Chapman handled him very badly, quite honestly, but I think I can understand why, because Innes was a sort-of take it as it comes sort of guy and I don’t think Colin liked that sort of thing – I think he liked to feel that people were a bit more dedicated, which of course Innes was, but it just didn’t show in the same way as with Jim Clark.
Perhaps similar to Kimi today?
Yes, good analogy.
Hawthorn was very fast, when he was on form. People always cite it as being a great race when he beat Fangio at Reims, which is really not correct, because what happened was he was smart enough to be in front of Fangio coming into the last corner, and he waved him past. Fangio took the bait, and went around him, then Mike dropped back and coming up to the start/finish line he just pulled out and passed him. So he outsmarted him. I mean he had a lot of ability as well, but that was not the way people painted him – his ability concealed many other events. You know, Mike was a great character, he was blonde and tall, drank beer. You were either a Hawthorn fan or a Moss fan. I was dedicated, teetotal, just chased crumpet and went racing. Mike had a more expansive life, let’s put it that way!
The thing you’ve got to remember is that these guys were playboys, but once they got out there that all went by. Some were introvert, some were extrovert, just because you’re one way or the other doesn’t affect, in any way, your driving skills.
Were the number of mechanical failures and breakages you’d experienced whilst driving for Lotus and Maserati a reason for joining Ferrari in ’62?
Quite honestly, if the Maserati had been made by Ferrari it would have been a much better car, because I think Ferrari engineering is the best and Maserati design is great. I wanted to go to Ferrari because he’d asked me to drive his car, had agreed to paint one in Rob Walker blue and was going to give it to me for the year. It would have been a great thing if I only hadn’t had my crash.
Ferrari had a difficult time in ’62 – do you think you might have given them a competitive edge?
Yes, but I think if I’d been there I could have helped them sort it out, because I’d had so much experience in driving cars, figuring out how to remedy things. I like to hope I could have got a better car than they had.
How did Rob Walker feel about having to cope with the politics at Ferrari?
Well there wouldn’t have been any. That’s the great thing: they were going to paint the car in his colours, give it to us to run. Alf Francis would have been there when it was being built, therefore we’d have had our group and he’d have had his. And obviously he would expect us to try and beat him in the same way we’d expect him to try and beat us, so I think it would have been a very amicable arrangement.