Sir Stirling Moss – 1929-2020
On Sunday 12 April, the sporting world lost a true icon, legend and a gentleman of the sport – Sir Stirling Moss. ‘Mr Motor Racing’, as he became known, was a benchmark driver in F1, sports cars, touring cars and just about anything else he turned his hand to.
Beyond circuit racing, Moss started his decorated career as a teenager competing in hillclimbs across the British Isles – where he instantly made an impact in his Cooper-JAP 500cc machine. He was a man of many firsts as the English driver became the first Brit to win his home grand prix in the world championship era, at Aintree in 1955, the first British driver to win his home grand prix in a British car, with Vanwall in 1957, first to win in a rear-engined F1 car in Argentina in 1958 and he clinched the first grand prix win for Lotus, in Monaco in 1960. In sports cars, Stirling with Tommy Wisdom won the first event in a car with disk brakes – the 50-lap sportscar race at Reims in 1952 in a Jaguar C Type.
Upon joining Mercedes in 1955, Moss formed a formidable partnership with Juan Manuel Fangio, who had already won the Drivers’ Championship twice. Moss’ first F1 world championship success came shortly after, winning the 1955 British Grand Prix. He finished runner-up in the championship to Fangio that year and twice more subsequently. He came closest to claiming the F1 world title in 1958, losing out to Mike Hawthorn by a single point. Moss won 16 Grands Prix during his career, including victories in Monaco and Germany in 1961.
But perhaps his most famous win came in the 1955 Mille Miglia. With Journalist Denis Jenkinson sat alongside, the British pairing set off into 1000 miles on the public roads – snaking their way through Italy. Moss and Jenkinson won by over half an hour and their success was awarded to not only an outstanding drive by the young Englishman, but also revolutionary use of descriptive directions, or pacenotes as they are more commonly known. That famous win, and even more famous iconic post-race photos, projected him into a household name around the world.
Moss’ remarkable success continued as the quintessentially British driver raced between 1948 and 1962, winning 212 of the 529 races he competed in.
In 1962, Moss suffered a dramatic accident at a meeting at Goodwood, and, once he recovered, he announced his formal retirement from top-line competition. The racing bug never left, as Sir Stirling contested celebrity races, historic meetings and British Touring Car rounds – showing his amazing versatility in the process.
In 1990, Moss was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, and 10 years later the London-based driver was knighted in the New Year Honours list for his services to motor racing.
Sadly, at the age of 90, Sir Stirling Moss passed away at his home in London after suffering a long illness.
The Motorsport UK family has lost a dear friend and its thoughts are with his family, friends and loved ones.