We have had a week of deserved tributes to the man who was, depending on your point of view, either arguably or emphatically Britain’s greatest racing driver.
Statistics don’t enter into it. Titles have minimal bearing. Here was a man whose youth and skill held the motoring world spellbound, and who became the living embodiment of speed and style for decades afterwards.
There have been endless recitals of his achievements in the past week and there’s no point adding another. If you are visiting this page then you probably know it all already.
If you don’t then settle down in the sunshine with a copy of Richard Williams’s The Last Road Race, which is by no means definitive but at least gives a strong account of itself at capturing Stirling’s world at its peak. It’s a glimpse of the moment when he ascended to claim Fangio’s throne as the greatest driver in the world and the sort of racing that Stirling so revelled in – the sort in which the game was one of life and death – was at its most astounding.
At the S&G, as in many places across the country, there remains a vacuum. Sir Stirling Moss may not have been present and visible for some considerable time but he was there, we wished him well and we hoped that he may yet rally. Perhaps that as much as anything is a measure of how vital he was for so long.
There has been much reflection here on the many encounters with Stirling that were part and parcel of life in the sport – from first meeting him during his British Touring Car days with Audi to many sporting and social gatherings that followed.
Most of all I treasure the last encounter, at Goodwood in 2015, when Lady Susie gleefully cajoled him into signing a photograph of him driving to victory at Monaco in 1956 for my son, whose middle name is Stirling.
“Is it spelt right?” he demanded. Having been suitably assured, he cheerily did the deed and will forever remain the measure of what a racing driver should look like to my seven-year-old. And his father.
All thoughts are with Lady Susie, the Moss family and his many friends – and with our sport, which is infinitely the poorer for his absence.
Wingnut Wings, the remarkable little company established by Hollywood director Sir Peter Jackson to build the highest quality model kits of aeroplanes ever seen, appears to have made its last stand.
The impact that Jackson’s emporium has had upon the modelling world and, in particular, for fanning the flames of enthusiasm for aircraft from the 1914-18 period, has been profound. The man who brought Middle Earth to life has made many and varied steps to keep the First World War readily-accessible to new generations, of which Wingnut Wings was a small but hugely meaningful part.
Jackson’s passion for these machines has seen him build a full-size Jurassic Park of WW1 aviation, with tool room copies of original aircraft flying with authentic restored or recreated engines from The Vintage Aviator. Although the full-size business took a break it has been operational again, and the same research that went into the full-size machines was translated into the 1/32 versions.
Working in the hitherto unfashionable 1/32 scale meant creating highly detailed and yet sensibly-sized models of small fighters such as the Sopwith Pup, S.E.5a and Albatros D.V initially, before branching out into ever-larger and more expensive fields. The highest profile releases have been a range of 1/32 Lancaster bombers from WW2 (tied in to Jackson’s ongoing battle to remake The Dam-Busters), and the similarly-sized biplane bomber, the Handley-Page 0/400 from the First World War.
The Wingnut Lancaster retails for £400 and measures just under a metre in wingspan
The Handley-Page is similarly sized but does at least fold its wings!
Hindsight may suggest that these were possibly a step too far in terms of size, price and complexity for all but a minuscule proportion of the potential model-makers out there. However, the official notices on the firm’s website are hold the Covid-19 pandemic responsible.
There is still hope that the astonishing array of talents that he has discovered in New Zealand will be able to ply their trade elsewhere and that the all-important toolings for the models might be sold on to a company who will cherish and maintain them.
Hopefully the many riches of Wingnut Wings will be preserved…