The 1959 World Sportscar Championship was decided at the fifth and final round of the Championship, the RAC Tourist Trophy, run over 6 hours, and held at the Goodwood Motor Circuit in West Sussex.

Aston Martin had won at Le Mans in June of that year, Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby taking the victory in their DBR1, Stirling having retired, putting Aston ahead of Ferrari in the World Sportscar Championship.

For the final round, Aston fielded a full three-car team for the Tourist Trophy. This race was also a turning point for Aston team from a technical point of view. Throughout the career of the DBR1 up to that race, the gearbox had been the cars Achilles heel. For the practice at Goodwood, Stirling's DBR1 had been equipped with a Maserati transaxle that transformed it, in Stirling's words, "beyond belief into a really excellent car".

Stirling went onto place his #1 DBR1 on pole, averaging 94.737 mph around the 2.4 mile circuit, some six-tenths clear of the fastest Ferrari, the #9 Ferrari 250 TR 59 Testa Rossa of Tony Brooks and Dan Gurney. The other two works Astons lined up seventh and twelveth on the grid driven by the pairings of Shelby and Jack Fairman and Maurice Trintignant and Paul Frère, albeit behind their rival Ferraris and Porsches. The pressue was on Stirling to deliver.

And deliver he did, shooting off into an immediate lead, after the traditional Le Mans style start that saw a bungled flag-drop signal.

Stirling controlled things at the front the race for the first hour and a half of the race, coming in for tyres, as the canvas was beginning to to show through, and handed the car over to team-mate Salvadori during the first round of pitstops. Salvadori, always very quick around Britain’s then-fastest circuit, kept the car out front ready for the first round of refuelling.

Salvadori came in for the second pitstop and fuel, it was at this point that David Brown and the Aston pit crew must have thought their world title aspirations had, literally, gone up in flames.

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Spilt fuel from the refuelling nozzle ignited on the hot exhausts of the #1 DBR1 and the car and pit area were soon ablaze. Salvadori jumped out and watched as the fire crew battled to save the DBR1.

Stirling, meanwhile, was quickly ushered into the #2 DBR1 of Shelby and Fairman (winner with Stirling at the Nürburgring 1,000kms prior to Le Mans) to see if he could, as Aston’s fastest man, win the race, albeit using two DBR1s.

The decision by Brown proved as savvy as it was spontaneous. Stirling battled back to the front of race, as he recalls "I drove flat out for the rest of the afternoon, just as I had at the Nürburgring" and brought the #2 DBR1 home a lap ahead of the second placed #22 Porsche 718 RSK of Wolfgang von Trips and Jo Bonnier, for an historic victory that handed Aston Martin the title.  

Image ©  LAT

1959 RAC Tourist Trophy Race Results:

1. Carroll Shelby (USA)/Jack Fairman (GB)/Stirling Moss (GB) – #2 Aston Martin DBR1/300, 224 laps

2. Wolfgang von Trips (D)/Jo Bonnier (S) – #22 Porsche 718 RSK, 223 laps

3. Olivier Gendebien (B)/Phil Hill (USA)/Cliff Allison (GB)/Tony Brooks (GB) – #10 Ferrari 250 TR59, 223 laps

4. Maurice Trintignant (F)/Paul Frère (B) – #3 Aston Martin DBR1/300, 221 laps

5. Tony Brooks (GB)/Dan Gurney (USA) – #9 Ferrari 250 TR59, 220 laps

6. Peter Ashdown (GB)/Alan Ross (USA) – #33 Lola Mk1-Climax, 210 laps