Whisky Fortune and F1's Most Successful Privateer

The Rob Walker Racing Team was the first to win an F1 race with a rear-engined car, and the only to win it with a four-wheel drive one. But that's not all.

Walker's Motors
Getty ImagesFrank Tewkesbury

Like most stories about Rob Walker, grandprixhistory.org's starts with the note that under 'occupation,' Mr. Walker had 'Gentleman' on his passport. Yet, from his first visit to a Grand Prix at the age of seven, everything led up to Walker's crucial handshake with Stirling Moss in 1958. At ten, he got a car as a Christmas present from his mother, and the racing began.

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Between getting a license for a Morgan 3 Wheeler and his 21st birthday, Walker owned 21 cars. His first major win came driving a Delahaye, at Brooklands in 1938. The following season, Walker's team finished the 24 Hours of Le Mans 3rd in class, 8th overall. His pace got slowed down for the war, but after Formula 1 started in 1950, Walker was sure to continue with single-seaters.

Brand New Car
1959’s prototype was a collaboration between Walker and industrialist AGB Owen, built on a Cooper chassis with a BRM engine. Designed for Stirling Moss.
Getty ImagesDouglas Miller

After starting out with Connaughts, Rob Walker Racing moved to Coopers in 1956. Two years later, he got wind that Alf Francis, Stirling Moss' racing engineer was for hire, while Moss was looking for more seat time. A few handshakes later, Walker scored his first racing win, with the rear-engined Cooper against the front-engined opposition. Cooper was happy with the score, yet decided to limit Walker's parts supply later on to give a fighting chance for its own works team.

To show them what's what, Rob Walker Racing started working on its Walker Climax Tech Mec Tipo 10. Unfortunately, Colin Chapman also came up with the revolutionary Lotus 18 for the 1960 season, and since Walker switched to that, the self-developed car never got to race. In 1961, the world's most famous privateer added another unique victory to its belt, leading Ferguson Research's four-wheel drive, ABS-equipped P99 to the top.

At the same time, Moss got busy in Walker's pair of Ferrari 250 SWBs as well.

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Stirling Moss with Rob Walker after winning the R.A.C Tourist Trophy race for the seventh time at Goodwood.
Getty ImagesPA Images

After battling it out with the likes of Phil Hill, Moss crashed at Goodwood in 1962. Without him, Walker's team hit a wall.

Five years later, Rob Walker became a Road & Track contributor, continuing to write for almost three decades. His racing team's final P1 came at the 1968 British Grand Prix.

This year at the Revival, Goodwood organized the largest ever gathering of Rob Walker vehicles. The late team principal's son was there, and so were his cars, from the Delahaye to the Walker prototype, from Ferguson to Lotus, and from 250 SWBs to his personal Facel Vega.

All blue, some with a white stripe.

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