Stirling Moss wins 1952 Race of Champions, Silverstone
The Jaguar C-Type’s arrival in 1951 might have quickly made the XK 120 obsolete as a racing car but the British Racing Drivers’ Club still chose the now four-year-old model when it was organising a Race of Champions event at the 1952 Daily Express meeting on 10 May.
Six international drivers were asked to drive six allegedly brand-new examples. These included Johnny Claes – a British-born Belgian who had won the 1951 Liège-Rome-Liège Rally in an XK 120 – Prince Bira of Siam (famed for driving ERAs before the war), Toulo de Graffenried from Germany who had come first in the 1949 British Grand Prix in a Maserati, Paul Pietsch also from Germany, Tony Gaze – the first Australian to contest a World Championship motor race – plus homegrown hero and Jaguar works driver, Stirling Moss.
According to Moss’s 1987 book, My Cars, My Career, the six drivers drew lots as to what Jaguar they would drive and then given a few practice laps to get used to them. At the start of the five-lap race, Pietsch – who finished third at the 1935 Italian Grand Prix for Auto Union – took the initial lead but was quickly overtaken by De Graffenried followed by the sole Brit. Although Moss was youngest of the six by some margin, he was also the most talented and the 22-year-old soon overtook the German to take the lead. As he remembered 35 years later in My Cars, My Career, “Three of my rivals had made their names racing prewar. I had a fairly easy win…”
With Moss also taking victory in a touring car race driving a Mk VII (LWK 343), it had been a successful meeting for the young driver who was still at the start of his illustrious career.
By comparison, the Race of Champions was one of the XK 120’s final outings at a major meeting. Overshadowed by the C-type plus several other more modern sports cars, having kick-started Jaguar’s racing career in the late Forties, its days at the top echelon in motorsport were now over.