Motorsport has served as a proving ground for loads of new technologies that eventually make their way into the auto industry’s consumer cars, and a new documentary shows exactly how that happened with disc brakes. And yes, it involves legendary racer Sir Stirling Moss and Jaguar test driver and engineer Norman Dewis.
This documentary, The Racers That Stopped the World, was filmed about eight years ago by OUTRUN but has only just been released. The production company decided that, after Moss died in April 2020, it was time to create a beautiful movie.
Seriously. It’s exceptional. If you’re not wiping away tears by the end, you may need to check your tear ducts.
As the story of the disc brake goes, Norman Dewis was working with the concept alongside Jaguar and Dunlop in an attempt to develop a braking system that could better keep up with the growing demands of speed. Dunlop was playing with the disc brake concept for its airplanes, but no one had yet implemented it in a car.
Basically, everyone was using drum brakes, which enclosed heat and resulted in sketchy braking after the brakes started to fade. Disc brakes are more exposed to the air, so they cool better and therefore function better. Sounds simple, right?
Well, the process of designing and then testing was certainly a challenge, and that’s where Moss came in. He tried the concept out at the Mille Miglia, the thinking there being that there’s no better place to test a new bit of tech than windy roads. It turned out to work beautifully. And the rest is history.
And Moss isn’t the only legendary driver to feature in this documentary. Murray Walker, Sir Jackie Stewart, Martin Brundle, and Derek Bell all weigh in on the story. It’s worth the half hour watch.