This superb photograph shows the immediate result of the Le Mans type start of the International Nine Hour Race at Goodwood on August 22, 1953. Stirling Moss is already in the lead in Jaguar C-Type n. 1 which he would share with Peter Walker. The n. 3 C-Type, right behind Moss, is being driven by Peter Whitehead who will share it with Ian Stewart. The Aston Martin DB3S n. 4 just to the right of Moss is driven by Reg Parnell who will have Eric Thompson as his co-driver. The car in the number one position on the grid, n. 11, is an HWM-Jaguar driven by George Abecassis and Graham Whitehead.
The Nine Hour Race was first run at Goodwood in 1952, starting at 3 PM in the afternoon and finishing in the dark at Midnight. This would be an important race on the international calendar and required a lot of improvements to Goodwood, including the creation of pits appropriate for this type of race with adequate lighting which was in itself no small problem. The race was run again in 1953 as seen here and then there was a final edition of the event in 1955.
The Jaguars led this race for an extended period, although both the Jaguars and the Aston Martins used a large number of tires which required numerous pit stops – all of which gave the spectators in the grandstands a real show. All this reflected the considerable strain on the machinery and the Jaguars ultimately felt it before the Astons. With only about 45 minutes remaining in the race the Moss/Whitehead Jaguar retired with a blown engine, having had some brake problems along the way as its Dunlop disc brakes, still somewhat experimental, overheated. The second place Jaguar, driven by Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton, then also retired with loss of oil pressure on the very next lap. It had been delayed earlier when the irrepressible Hamilton, brakes locked, slid through the wall of the chicane. He had the good sense to back up through it before going to the pits for repairs for otherwise he would have been penalized a lap.
These Jaguar disasters left the Parnell/Thompson Aston, seen below with Parnell driving, in the lead to the finish, with the Aston works DB3S of Peter Collins and Pat Griffiths in second place. Third was the final works C-Type of Whitehead and Stewart, followed by the two Ecurie Ecosse Jaguars. The Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar C-Types while not as fast as the works cars had less brake trouble as they were still fitted with drums and neither their brakes nor their motors were used as hard.
It seems that Goodwood’s day-tripper spectators, although initially enthusiastic about the Nine Hour Race, by its final running in 1955 were not so interested in watching only one race which lasted for nine hours and finished in the depths of night.
Photos by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com.
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