Here is Stirling Moss on the exit of Thillois Corner on the old Reims Grand Prix circuit during the 12 Hours of Reims on July 5, 1953. Moss is driving a works Jaguar C-Type (chassis n. 012). He shared his drive with Peter Whitehead, who was also the entrant of record, and won the race by four laps over the works second place Talbot T26GS of Louis Rosier and Yves Giraud-Cabantous. This was the first running of the 12 hour sports car race at Reims which continued annually through 1967. There was also a prewar race at Reims of 12 hours duration which took place in 1926.
The 12 Hours started at midnight and finished at noon on same day on which the French Grand Prix would be run in the afternoon. It gave the spectators a real value for their money in attending both races. The back straight at Reims ran for over two miles so the braking area for Thillois often saw overtaking attempts. Fortunately, the C-Types were now fitted with disc brakes. The apex area of Thillois was paved in cement with cobblestones, as can be seen behind the car above. Of course when it rained those cobblestones became a real challenge.
Whitehead started the race. Being at midnight and pretty dark away from the pits for the first half of the running, there would be very few photographs taken before daylight. He turned the Jaguar over to Moss at 0300 when in fourth position. Moss then did the next three hours and with some retirements got into the lead. Whitehead came back from 0600 to 0900 and then Moss took the Jaguar to the finish. Here Moss passes the pits, which were just an extra lane next to the racing surface, not long before the finish with one of the Talbots seen at the far right of the photo.
After their win, Moss with his left hand on Whitehead’s shoulder celebrates their victory. That afternoon Moss would have a drive in a Cooper-Alta special in the French Grand Prix. The Cooper with a new chassis handled like a pig in practice and had its clutch explode during the race causing bad cuts to Moss’ leg. It was that F2 car’s last race.
Photos by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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