Simanaitis Says

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ROB’S NEW MOON

ROB WALKER, rest his soul, was a grand prix team owner and a contributing editor of Road & Track (he called Dottie Clendenin his “editoress”). Because people may ask, I should also mention that he was a multi-great-grandson of Johnnie Walker, of Scotch whisky fame. And, most telling of Rob, in the Occupation category of his passport, it said simply “Gentleman.”

Rob was a grand prix correspondent for Road & Track from 1967 into the early 1990s.

The Rob Walker Racing Team competed internationally from the mid-1950s into the early 1970s. His cars, typically acquired from Lotus, were always painted in Scottish racing livery, blue with a white stripe across the nose, rather than the traditional British Racing Green.

Stirling Moss and Rob Walker Racing gave the Lotus marque its first grand prix win, Monaco 1960.

Famous drivers on the team—employed on a simple handshake—included Stirling Moss, Maurice Trintignant, Jo Bonnier, Jo Siffert and Graham Hill.

During the time when he was an R&T grand prix correspondent—and when Detroit Grand Prix was a Formula 1 race—several of us were enjoying Rob’s company in what was then a revolving restaurant atop the Renaissance Center.

Renaissance Center, Detroit, Michigan.

Suddenly Rob got thoughtful. Then keeping his eyes averted, he rushed out, saying he’d be back momentarily.

He returned in about 15 minutes and told us he’d gone outside—that is, 72 floors down and then outside—to look at the new moon.

It was bad luck, Rob told us, to see the new moon through glass. Not ordinarily a superstitious man, he was entirely serious about this first look at a new moon.

I’ve since learned that English folklore varies on this. For some, like Rob, a first glass-free viewing of the new moon suffices. For others, through-glass viewing is always eschewed, otherwise bad fortune—such as broken glass—was sure to follow.

In Devonshire, it’s said that, upon seeing the first new moon of the year, you should remove a stocking and run across a field. Then, between your big toe and the next, you’ll find a hair that’ll reveal the color of your true love’s hair.

A wonderful book, Rob Walker, by Michael Cooper-Evans, Hazelton Publishing, 1993. Both Amazon.com and ABEBooks.com list it.

Rather a change of pace in this context: After his retirement from team ownership, Rob kindly gave me several of his team driving-suit patches, a £5 note—and a handshake.

He and I would joke about my being his last paid driver. I still have the fiver. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2012

4 comments on “ROB’S NEW MOON

  1. Rb
    October 10, 2012

    Nice piece Denns…rb

  2. Mike Elder
    October 14, 2012

    Ron Walker, Henry Manney, and now Dennis gone from the pages of R&T! Loved TechTidbits for the info and the concise presentation. The loss hit me with the latest R&T (Nov 2012 issue). Now if Peter Egan leaves there will be nothing to look forward to but a Jeff Zwart photo!

  3. Kent Kochheiser
    November 18, 2012

    Thanks so much, Dennis. So nice to remember friends. Hi to Dottie.

  4. Pingback: New Moon, You Saw Me Standin' Alone - livingwithloulou.com

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This entry was posted on October 10, 2012 by in And Furthermore..., Classic Bits and tagged , , .
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