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Last updated: Wed 1 Aug 2018

Goodwood to celebrate Rob Walker

The Goodwood Revival this September will honour Rob Walker, the most successful private Formula One team owner in history and Nunney’s former Lord of the Manor.

Rob Walker

Rob Walker driving his Delahaye in the 1939 Le Mans 24-Hours classic.

At times in its history the Formula 1 World Championship has often been a game of numbers, dominated by the biggest manufacturers with the biggest budgets.

If you didn’t have manufacturer involvement, you couldn’t get anywhere – or so they thought. This year the Goodwood Revival will celebrate a man who bucked that trend – Rob Walker.

Walker became one of the symbols of the ‘garagiste’ a derogatory name handed to the great small British teams who turned up to run cars against him by Enzo Ferrari himself – a term that those who were branded with it came to wear with pride.

Walker would go on to run some of the great names of motorsport: Tony Brooks, Jo Bonnier, Jo Siffert and Jack Brabham all turned out for him.

But it was in partnership with Stirling Moss that he found his greatest triumphs, always resplendent in the eye-catching deep blue with white stripe.

Whisky

Sir Stirling Moss and Rob Walker

Rob Walker (right) with Sir Stirling Moss

Walker himself came from not so humble origins – the wealthy heir to the iconic Johnnie Walker Whisky distillery in Scotland – but showed a persuasive and forthright nature that would drive him to success from a very early age.

Barely out of short trousers young Robert was able to convince his mother that it would be a good idea to buy him a car – aged ten. A lifelong affiliation with motoring was born.

While studying at Magdalene College, Cambridge – or rather playing truant – Walker laid eyes on a Delahaye Type-35 in a shop window. Hours later it was his and he was signed up for his first race at Brooklands.

Spurred on by a series of impressive results Walker turned his attentions to the great race of the day – the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Partnering Ian Connell in 1939 Walker caught the eye immediately, eschewing the usual racing attire for a perfectly tailored pinstripe suit – as anything else would have been “improper” for a gentleman to wear at 8pm.

In 1947 Rob Walker bought Nunney Court. In 1950 he became Lord of the Manor of Nunney when he bought Nunney
Castle at auction to safeguard it for the community.

Regular guests at Nunney Court in the 1950s included racing driver Sir Stirling Moss and the American actress Ginger Rogers.

Stirling Moss

Stirling Moss at Nunney Fayre 1959.

Stirling Moss attended the 1959 Nunney Fayre with Rob Walker.

It was in 1958 that Walker struck up his incredible partnership with Stirling Moss – one that would take in many of the great English racer’s most legendary drives.

Moss took the team’s first F1 victory in Argentina in 1958, before clinching two more victories in ’59 in Walker’s resolutely British Cooper-Climax T51.

Lotus_18_Stirling_Moss_Monaco_1961

Lotus driven by Stirling Moss at the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix.

It was for Rob Walker that Moss strapped himself into a tiny Lotus 18 to pull off two of the all-time great victories at Monaco.

Firstly taking the miniature Lotus to the marque’s first ever Formula 1 victory in 1960, before defying the odds, and the much more powerful Ferraris of Richie Ginther, Phil Hill and Wolfgang Von Trips, to repeat the feat in 1961.

At Goodwood Moss would claim multiple victories for the blue-and-white, including a stunning TT victory in 1960 on board Walkers’ iconic 250 SWB, which now resides in the hands of non-other than Ross Brawn, and with which Moss was reunited at Goodwood at the Revival in 2015.

While the post-Moss era was not quite so joyous, the 2018 Revival will remember the incredible feats Rob Walker Racing pulled off across so many disciplines with a stunning parade of some of the most important cars in the team’s history.

Tickets for the 2018 Goodwood Revival are on sale now, for more information visit ticketing.goodwood.com.

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