In the 1940’s, there were those who were glorified after they died and then there were those who’s glory was second only to war martyrs, the ones who sacrificed their lives for the passion of sports. The then most life threatening sport known to man was motor racing.
One minute you could be doing a hundred and forty miles in your Jag and the next minute you could be piled under crumpled aluminium and burnt rubber. Those were also the days of Fangio and Ascari.
1951, Fangio is in his Alfa 159 when he finds his Alfa teammate parrying with an HMW Alta. As the HMW shoots past the Alfa, Fangio pulls up near the HMW laughing. Sitting in the HMW was his to-be teammate at Mercedes, Stirling Moss. The first time these two were in the same room was in 1955 when Moss joined Mercedes. 1955 also happens to be the year when Moss beat Fangio for the first time. Moss lead a 1-2-3-4 finish for Mercedes (Fangio finished second).
Mille Miglia, a thousand mile race across Italy was when the world saw the true Stirling Moss. It is often described as “The Most Epic drive. EVER.”He set a new course record that day.
Moss first set foot on the track in 1948 and by 1951, he had made a name for himself in the racing world. He was not bound by type, time or terror of events. All that mattered to him was the track.
His first significant victory was when he bagged the RAC Tourist Trophy in 1950 for winning the world’s oldest continuous motor race. An Interesting fact to state here is that Moss went on to win this race a whooping total of 6 times in the next 11 years.
There are three people who have won the Gold Cup for three consecutive penalty-free runs on the Rally of the Alps and Surprise! Surprise!, Moss is one of them. Then coming to Endurance races, Moss became the first Non-American to win the 12 hours of Sebring in 1954. He was a heavy hitter even when it came to sports cars.
Moss’ victories were purely his talent behind the wheel and not the wheels itself. In the 1961 F1 season, Moss in his underpowered Lotus made the all-new V6 in the Ferrari look like a toaster. He gave multiple podium finishes that year.
Stirling Moss was the greatest driver who never won the World Championship.
In 1962, after emerging first in the New Zealand Grand Prix, Moss and his Lotus Climax met with a rather nasty crash during the Glover Trophy. This crash lead to his retirement from professional racing. After what was a rollercoaster of a career with 16 wins, he was still the best racer on paper. This is corroborated by the numerous speed records he has to his name. It just feels like what ran in Moss’ veins was not blood but gasoline.
Moss hailed from London with a mildly significant racing background. Moss was a keen horse rider as a youngster, he turned out to be the finest when it came to riding break horsepower as well. In 1990, he was inducted into the “International Motorsports Hall of Fame”, Knighted in 2000.
In 2006, Mercedes Benz – McLaren rolled out a special 722 edition of their SLR commemorating the victory at Mille Miglia 1955. The new SLR was based on the 300 SLR that Sir Moss drove through the checkered flag in 1955. The special edition was often called the “Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss”.
A few years later a sportscar maker in Britain, Lister recreated the “Knobbly”. The Lister Jaguar Knobbly Stirling Moss special edition is a replica of the racer that Moss drove in 1958.
In 2018, Sir Moss announced his retirement from public life. After a long illness, he was lost to the world on 12th April 2020.
“It was one lap too many, he just closed his eyes” said his wife Lady Moss.
Picture credits: f1fanatic.co.uk, motorbash.com, skysports.com, grandprix247.com