Gregor Fisken, owner of London-based historic automobile specialist Fiskens, described driving the actual 1959 Le Mans 24 Hours winning Aston Martin DBR1 as a ‘huge honour’ as the Scottish racing driver competed in the ‘Le Mans Legends’ race that supported this year’s iconic endurance event.
The car was originally part of the British manufacturer’s stunning 1-2 finish at the Circuit de la Sarthe, where American Caroll Shelby and Britain’s Roy Salvadori piloted it to victory in the twice-around-the-clock enduro ahead of the sister David Brown Racing DBR1 of Maurice Trintignant and Paul Frere.
More than 50-years later Fisken, who raced a modern DBR9 at the Le Mans in 2008, was able to drive the exact same 1959 race-winning car in the 45-minute legends race that was a precursor to the 79th edition of the 24 Hours last weekend.
Run by preparation specialist Tim Samways Sporting & Historic Car Engineers, Fisken qualified the DBR1 seventh on the grid with a lap time some 12 seconds faster than the car had even gone around the legendary 8.469-mile track.
During the race, Fisken, who is currently racing in the British GT Championship and is one of a select group of drivers to have driven in all four classes at the Le Mans 24 Hours, had climbed to fifth place and was in sight of the leaders when an oil leak forced him into retirement.
“I’ve had such a tremendous weekend and it has been an absolute honour to drive this hugely important DBR1,” said Fisken.
“I must give great credit to Tim Samways and his guys for the job they’ve done with the car and to set a lap time of around four minutes 47 seconds, which was up there with the Lister Jaguars, was very satisfying.
“Unfortunately, in the race we had an oil leak caused by a broken part of the trans axle and, in view of the history and value of the car, we thought it prudent not to continue after my pit stop. Nevertheless, it hasn’t taken anything away from the joy of driving what is Britain’s finest front engined sports car of the 1950s period. It’s no surprise that it was a Le Mans winner.”
As well as being a memorable day for Fisken, the race proved to be an historic occasion as the legendary British driver, Sir Stirling Moss, who was competing in a 1961 Porsche RS61, announced his retirement from racing at the age of 81.
“I was there when he announced his retirement and it was a huge privilege to be competing in the very last motor race of his incredible career,” said Gregor.
“I saw him in the race and he was still driving brilliantly. Of course, one of his finest moments came in a DBR1 at the Nurburgring 1000kms in the World Sportscar Championship in the 50s, when he came from well down the field to take a stunning victory, so that brought it full circle to me.
“He may have ended his driving career, but Sir Stirling is a vibrant member of the historic racing community and I’m looking forward to seeing him again very soon in his capacity as team manager, running his own cars.”