Stirling Moss is still one of Britain’s best-known motor sports stars and one of motor racing’s most durable figures despite the passing of nearly fifty years since his retirement from racing. There have been drivers who have flitted in and out of the limelight since his time, but Stirling Moss has been one that the nation have never forgotten. Possibly his most important trait is that he taught his country how to both win and lose with equal grace.
Sir Stirling Moss (17th Sep 1929 – 12th Apr 2020) sadly passed away in the early hours of this morning aged 90. He celebrated an incredible 212 wins from 529 races during a career spanning from 1947-1962. One of such races that I wish I had been around to see was from the 1955 World Championship. On the 17th September 1955, his 26th birthday, Stirling Moss lead a 1-2-3 win in the RAC Tourist Trophy at Dundrod here in Ulster.
Moss’ first ever racing was done in a pre-war BMW 328 in March 1947. On his first time out, Stirling won, bringing home the Cullen Cup in a trials tournament. Moss drove his first professional race in 1948 when he was 18 in a Cooper 500 and during a career that spanned 14 years would go on to win 16 of the 66 F1 races in which he competed impressively across all categories of his 375 finishes, he won 212. In 1955 he was signed by Mercedes Benz to race in F1 alongside the great Juan Manuel Fangio, who beat him to the title. However that year he also delivered one of the most exceptional drives of his generation during the Mille Miglia, a punishing road race in Italy. Driving a Mercedes-Benz 300SLR he set a new record and beat Fangio by 32 minutes.
Between 1955 and 1961 overall Moss was second in the F1 championship four times, including twice more to Fangio, and was third on three further occasions. Able to turn his hand from short spring racing to the demands of endurance competition, he also scored two second-place finishes at the Le Mans 24 Hours in a Jaguar and an Aston Martin, including a class win in 1956, and won both the Sebring 12 Hours and the 12 hours of Reims.
Among his finest victories was the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix, where he triumphed in his Lotus over the faster Ferraris. A crash at the Glover Trophy at Goodwood in 1962 would end his career, leaving him in a coma for a month and partially paralysed for six months.
“As far as I’m concerned, any driver who’s worth the name tries to win every race,” he said. “Eventually, the world championship ceased to be very important to me.” – Sir Stirling Moss, on how victory at every attempt which was more important to him than titles.
He went on to run a property business with his family as well as racing at historic meetings before retiring from race driving in 2011, at the age of 81. Moss also worked in broadcasting, published his autobiography in 2015 and most recently appeared in the film The Green Hell, recalling his win at the Nürburgring in 1961. He was knighted in 2000, received the Segrave Trophy in 2005 and was awarded the FIA gold medal for outstanding contribution to motorsport in 2006.
He recently appeared in the documentary The Green Hell, which covered his famous win at the demanding Nurburgring race track in the 1961 German Grand Prix. He was taken ill with a chest infection during a cruise in Singapore just before Christmas 2016 and would retire from public life in 2018. Sir Stirling Moss is survived by his third wife Susie, son Elliot and daughter Allison.