After a long illness, Sir Stirling Moss winner of 212 of his 529 races, passed away on the 12th of April 2020 aged 90. Moss, widely regarded as the best driver never to win the World Championship, took 2nd spot four times between 1955 and 1961 and third place three times during that period.
The Real Fast and Furious
Moss competed during an era when health and safety hadn’t taken over and races were fast and furious with racing drivers running and jumping into their cars to start races which were known as mobile death traps.
Drivers didn’t wear crash helmets, buckle up seat belts, and they wore t-shirts. Moss joked that he liked to get a tan when he raced. But on a more serious note, there were many accidents with three to four drivers losing their lives each year along with a few spectators.
Eighty-Five Different Cars
During his career, Moss drove competitively in eighty-five different cars across all different forms of motor racing. These included 500 cc single-seaters, formula one cars, and rally cars. He drove new cars, used cars, and most famously he swapped cars with teammate Tony Brooks during the July 1957 British Grand Prix at Aintree.
Linking Up With Mercedes
As a proud Englishman Moss wanted nothing more than to drive British built cars to victory but in the early fifties the Italians and their red Ferrari cars were very much the ones to beat.
Moss became more competitive when his father, with his son’s money but without his knowledge, started to look at foreign used cars in the market and turned up one day with an Italian Maserati.
Moss’s form improved and in 1955 German giants Mercedes took notice and signed Moss to form their dream team with Argentina’s Juan Manuel Fangio to challenge the Italian’s.
Le Mans 24 Hour Race Disaster
In June 1955 a major accident occurred during the 24 Hour Race when eighty-three spectators lost their lives along with French driver Pierre Bouillin. This promoted Mercedes to pull out of motor racing until the late eighties.
Making British Racing History
Around eighteen months later, driving a British built Vanwall car, Moss had a decent lead but pulled into the pits with a problem. Brooks, still suffering from an injury picked up during a previous race, soon pulled up in front of Moss and as the pit crew pulled Brooks out Moss jumped into the driving seat.
This delay put Moss back in thirteenth place but he managed to regain the lead to take the chequered flag. This made British Motor Racing history with a British driver, winning the British Grand Prix, in a British built car for the first time. Brooks takes credit as well as in racing terms Moss won the race in an already used car.
Enzo Ferrari Wanted Moss
At the beginning of the sixties, Ferrari boss Enzo Ferrari wanted Moss and he promised to build a car especially for him. Moss, in a Ferrari, looked like the perfect combination and the title would soon be his.
Goodwood 24th April 1962
Before the perfect car reached the UK Moss’s career had come to an abrupt end when he crashed at Goodwood on the 24th of April 1962.
There were fears that Moss wouldn’t make it but after thirty-eight days in a coma, he regained consciousness. A year later, when he tried to begin a return to racing, he soon realised that he didn’t have it in him anymore.
Who Do You Think You Are Stirling Moss
Moss went on to become a fine ambassador for Great Britain, British racing, and police, trapping speeding motorists, would often say to drivers ‘ who do you think you are Stirling Moss?’
These days Moss has probably been replaced by Lewis Hamilton but Moss himself fell victim when speeding through the Mersey tunnel. When asked if he thought he was Stirling Moss he replied yes but he was still fined £10.
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