Stirling in those days was into a mode of psyching his fellow drivers at race meets. One approach was stripping to topless in the pits, sometimes even hastening up and down the grid with his blue Dunlop racing pants below and above keen pecs, bare skin with about as much hair on his chest as on his head.
In an era when conditioning was rare among drivers Stirling was either a closet worker-outer or was simply endowed with a naturally superior physique and accompanying stamina. He was fit when fit was not a given.
Another ploy: as rain clouds gathered Stirling would walk among his fellows glancing skyward and rubbing his hands together, not too obviously but enough to make a point. He was known as a “master of the wet” and this was a subtle reminder. “Do you really like racing in the rain all that much?” I asked as he collected sour looks. “Of course not,” he said. “But these blokes don’t know that.”
Stirling was always a friendly sort, totally unaffected by his clear status as number one — a role unquestioned after Fangio retired in 1958. Stirling was open to newcomers, to fans and to the press. I represented all three, really, and counted SMoss as a friend as well.
I think this picture was from Sebring in 1961. I seem to recall that olive green driving suit in practice at least. If Sebring 1961 is correct then I was driving my Ferrari 250 GT SWB with Allen Eager, better known for his tenor sax. (At race end we were 10th overall and 1st in class and 1st in GT. Not too shabby fro a girl and a jazz musician.
Stirling in 1961 was not around at the finish of Sebring’s 12 hours. He drove a Birdcage for Maserati in which he lost six minutes at the start thanks to a dead battery. Stirling-like, he made that up quickly enough and was running second when Graham Hill took over the car. A few minutes later all came to a halt with a broken exhaust system. Out.
Stirling was always in great shape but the cars were not always a match.
A Racer Named Denise
ROAD & TRAVEL MAGAZINE — Journalist. Race car driver. Sports reporter. Photographer. Intellectual. And friend to about a zillion people. Denise McCluggage has worn all these hats; many of them so very well. If there was ever a woman that defined "cerebral personality," basically someone who genuinely maximizes the potential of their brain and spirit — it's Denise. Recounting what she has accomplished, and where's she's been in her life, would be a long list indeed, but a fun one for sure. Fortunately, she's far from finished adding to it. Read More >>
Automotive Hall of Fame
INDUCTEE, DENISE MCCLUGGAGE — One of the first female motor-sports writers and race car drivers in the United States. Helped found Competition Press, known today as AutoWeek. Read More >>
First Woman Inductee!
ROAD & TRAVEL MAGAZINE — It's yet another impressive first for McCluggage, a respected and humble pioneer in the world of automotive and sports journalism. Don't forget to add author, race car driver and photographer to that list. As one of the first female sportswriters in the 1950s, McCluggage covered primarily motor racing and skiing for the New York Herald Tribune before becoming a member of numerous racing and rallying teams across the nation and abroad. Read More >>
Wikipedia: Denise McCluggage
Denise McCluggage (born 1927) is an American auto racing driver, journalist, author and photographer. McCluggage was a pioneer of equality for women in the U.S., both in motorsports as well as in journalism. Read More >>
The Henry Ford
Denise McCluggage was credited in the past as being one of the top women race drivers in America during her racing years, yet her list of accomplishments and interests extends well beyond motor racing. Besides participating in motorsports, she spent a great deal of time skiing, even serving as an instructor at one point. Her adventurous spirit can further be exemplified by her parachuting out of an airplane. [PDF] Read More >>
Denise started out as a motorsports journalist before embarking on a long and varied driving career in the late 1950s. She took part in many international sports car races and saloon events, picking up a number of class wins. Unusually for an American, she drove in rallies in Europe and the Americas as well as circuit races. Read More >>
BOOK REVIEW: By Brooks Too Broad For Leaping — If you were at all interested in cars during those years, then you would love this book. In the late 50s — early 60s, when I first started driving, I didn't want to be LIKE Denise McCluggage. No, I wanted to BE Denise McCluggage. Obviously, that couldn't work. This book is almost the next best thing. Read More >>