A Legend Passes – Sir Stirling Moss

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By Chris Pollitt

Sir Stirling Moss was, arguably, the finest racer of his generation, if not all time. Over his impressive career he entered 529 races, of which 212 he won. He was a formidable force on track, from a time when risk and danger were at their utmost peak in motorsport. Yet despite this, Sir Stirling Moss lived to be an impressive 90 years old. Sadly though, this Easter Sunday, we say goodbye to a legend. With his wife, Lady Moss, by his side, Sir Stirling Moss passed away after a long battle with illness. Lady Moss, speaking of his passing, said “”He simply tired in the end and he just closed his beautiful eyes and that was that.”

Moss was the son of a dentist, but a dentist with petrol in his veins. Alfred Moss, when he wasn’t fixing molars, could be found on track, even placing 16th in the 1924 Indianapolis 500. Moss’s mother, Aileen, was also a keen driver, entering pre-war hill-climbs in a Singer Nine. Young Stirling, then, never stood a chance!

He was active in motorsport from 1948 in until 1962. During his time, he competed in over 500 races, winning some 212 of them. Moss wasn’t a single-discipline diver though, which only adds to his impressive status. Formula 1, open wheel, closed wheel, endurance and rally events were all taken on by this legend of motor racing.

Sadly, in 1962, Moss crashed his Lotus during the Glover Trophy at Goodwood. The crash put Moss in a coma for a month, and for the following six months he was partially paralysed on his left side. The crash spelled the end of his professional racing career. Amusingly though, he kept the steering wheel from the Lotus, complete with the huge dent cause by his head hitting it!

The sheer tenacity of Moss meant that despite the crash of ’62, he would never give up driving. As such, once rehabilitated, he would often be seen in one-off events, charity races or celebrity events. he also went on to become a spokesperson within motorsport, a broadcaster and also an author.

In 1990, Moss was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. He was knighted by Prince Charles in 2000.

Moss was one of the true greats of motorsport. Not only that, he was also the gentleman of the sport. Many have speculated that he could have been even more successful, were it not for his determination to drive only British machinery. “Better to lose honourably in a British car than win in a foreign one” he once said.

However, the ‘what could have been’ is moot. The fact remains that Sir Stirling Moss was one of the greatest drivers not only of his time, but ever. A spirited, charming gentleman of racing, Sir Stirling Moss gave the dirty face of automotive competition a character that could and did pull people in. He was an inspiration, a true talent and above all, a gentleman.

Rest in peace, Sir Stirling Moss.

17th September 1929 – 12th April 2020

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