Known as Mr Motor Racing, he is arguably the greatest all-round racing driver of all time. Turning pro at 18, racing a Cooper 500, he went on to race over 107 different types of car across all classes of motorsport, including Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Aston Martin and Lotus. Having won the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix, still regarded as one of the best F1 races ever, a near-fatal accident at Goodwood in 1962 ended it all and on retiring from competitive motor racing at 32, he focused on his commercial interests, principally his property business, which he still runs today. Along with being awarded a knighthood and OBE, he appeared in the 1967 James Bond film ‘Casino Royale’.
Bangkok…terribly hot and unbearably humid but the people are lovely, the food and service very good and it’s a nice place to be. I’ve a wonderful dentist in Thailand, whom I visit 2-3 times a year. We particularly like the Orient…the service is so much better there. I’m different to most because my wife and I normally holiday on the way to/back from somewhere, incorporating it with a work trip.
Been there, would never go back to?
Morocco. We made the mistake of going to a Club Med place…we were the wrong age and didn’t enjoy it at all.
Top travel tip?
It’s easy to pack too much. I like to travel light, with something for every occasion.
Least like to travel with?
A chatterbox with bad breath who invades your area. I find it very disconcerting when people come along and ‘move in’.
Favourite holiday reading material?
I’m not much of a reader…I’d rather wait until it’s made it into a film. I wish I could get into books because it would be wonderful for those boring times like queuing at customs. When I do read, it’s James Patterson.
Never get on a plane without?
My passport (it was in the wrong case once so there was a real panic), whatever I’m working on, say my drawings, and my ‘woolly feet’ (thick socks!)
Preferred holiday type?
A cruise…the less walking the better and I don’t like sand. I like to stay aboard, even at ports of call. I sought Alan Whicker’s opinion on cruising and he suggested Seabourn…they offer fantastic food, wonderful service, very good accommodation and people don’t invade your space. Favourite hotels include the Shangri-la, Peninsula and the Kahala Mandarin, Hawaii.
Favourite holiday memories?
Animals in Africa…Abu Camp elephant-back experience in the Okavango Delta. I sat on an elephant while my wife walked beside it! We really liked Lizard Island, Australia and I switch off on a Seabourn…(‘It’s the only time he does!’ interjects Sir Stirling’s wife, Susie. ‘Or on safari or when we used to go skiing. He wouldn’t go anywhere without a telephone or television…he gets bored quickly so it’s much easier if the trip’s associated with business.’)
Which languages do you speak?
Rudimentary French. My pronunciation’s better than my actual knowledge. We’d travel around Europe to racecourses speaking the language. I woke up from my coma speaking Italian! It’s a lovely language and probably the nicest and easiest to learn.
Favourite travel gadget?
The compass I wear around my neck. It’s very useful when looking at property…you know which way’s north, where the sun will set etc.
A mad ‘publicity’ dash across Europe, taking in 15 countries in five days in the early 50’s, when it was quite an achievement.
Idea of paradise?
Cruising around the East on a Seabourn ship in the warm sunshine.
Where do you own properties?
Mayfair, London (I designed the layout and it’s bursting with gadgets) and Aventura, near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We’re looking to buy in Arizona…the Floridian climate’s very hot and humid, not very pleasant. We enjoy the sun and think we’d be more suited to Arizona’s climate. I’m also a landlord to nearly 50 tenants in London. I’m not a gambler with property…I like to play it safe, logically working things out. If more secure, South Africa would be wonderful. It’s a lovely country.
Tips for buying in the States?
There are lots of benefits to buying there…we speak the same language, if you hire a builder say, plus their law’s based on ours. Understand your Home Owners’/Condo’s Association. Many people buy in gated communities and Condos Associations are very powerful and can be a real pain in the neck…check they’re reasonable.
Favourite Grand Prix circuit?
Monaco. It’s very exciting because the people are so close and, in my day, it was 100 laps long, taking 3¾ hours…a good length for a Grand Prix. Now, it’s a lot less. It’s probably the circuit that drivers enjoy more than any other.
Any retirement plans?
Yes, but when I do I’ll have a headstone! My motto’s ‘Movement is tranquillity’…life is for living, you know! •