Denis Jenkinson, one of the finest motorsport journalists, died recently. "Jenks'" initial fame was as a competitor, a world-class sidecar passenger; he moved into journalism later, and one of his finest and most evocative pieces derived from...
Denis Jenkinson, one of the finest motorsport journalists, died recently.
"Jenks'" initial fame was as a competitor, a world-class sidecar passenger; he moved into journalism later, and one of his finest and most evocative pieces derived from his first-hand competitive experience -- he partnered the victorious Stirling Moss in a Mercedes in the Mille Miglia, navigating him through the thousand-mile road race at record pace and producing one of the true classics of racing journalism as a by-product.
DSJ's writings for Motor Sport combined a competitor's insight, a journalist's immediacy, an enthusiast's love of the sport and a historian's sceptical eye. Generations of British enthusiasts grew up on the prose of DSJ and WB. Anecdotes abound -- perhaps the best of which involves Jenkinson's bet that he'd shave off his beard if Jochen Rindt ever won a GP... the beard duly came off after Watkins Glen and "to this day scholars have been debating whether Jenks' beard is a replica" (a quote I think is due to Mike Lawrence)... this brings us to another side of Jenkinson's endeavours; he was a tireless researcher keen to work separate *real* historic racing cars from fakes, and wrote eloquently and at length on the history of the sport.
His many books covered a wide range of topics in racing -- he was as comfortable writing about the men as he was about the machines. He had firm beliefs in what made cars and men great and was unafraid to express his opinions forcefully and elegantly.
His death, though not unexpected, has left an irreplaceable void in racing journalism. There is not likely to be another competitor/journalist of DSJ's calibre again.