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Loughborough man's 1955 film of F1 uncovered
Monaco race 1955
David Clarke's footage features the highs and lows of the Monaco 1955 F1 race

BBC Inside Out has uncovered high quality colour film shot by an amateur filmmaker from Loughborough who followed Formula One in its early days before the advent of TV rights.

David Clarke ran the family's box factory, but was a keen motor racing fan and had a passion for making films.

His 1955 film features his friend Sir Stirling Moss and shows the risks taken by drivers, cameramen and spectators.

The film was found amongst the archive at the Beaulieu National Motor Museum.

The footage has sparked memories of the glory days of British racing for Sir Stirling, who is often called "the greatest driver never to win the World Championship".

The film, which was broadcast on television for the first time, shows Sir Stirling leading the race in Monaco in 1955 but a technical problem with his car lost him first place.

Sir Stirling Moss
It was a friendly meeting to go to Monaco and then have to lose the race at the last minute was very upsetting
Sir Stirling Moss, F1 legend

"It was a very special race, everybody wanted to win Monaco more than any other and of course you are very close to the public.

"We could see the girls and we used to wave at people.

"It was a friendly meeting to go to, Monaco, and then to have to lose the race at the last minute was very upsetting."

Le Mans disaster

Formula One began in 1950; five years into the sport and safety was not high on the list of priorities. The Monaco footage shows mechanics smoking, drivers in polo shirts, no seatbelts and crowds watching from the track edge.

Sir Stirling was racing a Mercedes in Le Mans a month after Monaco when one of his team mates was involved in what is still the biggest disaster in motor racing history.

"It happened in front of me... I didn't really see much because I was standing on the big counter waiting to take the car over.

"Of course it happened in a flash of a second and all you could see was carnage."

Eighty-three people died and 120 were injured.

"There was a safety thing after the big crash in Le Mans, but even after that you had a lot of people still on the side of the track," said Sir Stirling.

Access to the tracks continued with the occasional scare, but Clarke's enthusiasm for racing was undiminished.

Stirling accident

Sir Stirling himself was terribly injured in a crash at Goodwood in 1962. He recovered after being in a coma for a month and was keen to get back on the track.

Sir Stirling Moss
To me motor racing is a dangerous sport - it's part of the ingredient
Sir Stirling Moss, Retired in 1962

Sir Stirling said F1 is not as good as it used to be and in his day it was more thrilling. He believes it is now more a business than sport.

"It was much more exciting then - it was dangerous.

"To me motor racing is a dangerous sport - it's part of the ingredient, but it doesn't mean I want anyone to get hurt or die.

"But it certainly makes it more important for you to stay on the tarmac.

"If a racer realises that if there's a problem and you make a mistake you could die then that certainly sharpens up your interest in what you are doing."

In March 2010 he fell down a lift shaft at home, but the octogenarian Sir Stirling was ready to race again only four months after at Silverstone.

"I'm a believer that if anything does happen the first thing you should do is get back to the way life is. It's no good saying I can't to this, I can't do that.

"I wanted to get out there and do it and racing at Silverstone was a very good remedy for me - I enjoyed it."

Watch Sir Stirling Moss in action on BBC Inside Out on the BBC iPlayer until Monday 8 November 2010.




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