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Moss in 2008
17 September 1929 |
West Kensington, London, UK
|Formula One World Championship career|
|Teams||Mercedes-Benz, Maserati, Vanwall, Rob Walker Cooper, Lotus & HWM|
|Races||67 (66 starts)|
|Career points||185 9⁄14 (186 9⁄14)|
|First race||1951 Swiss Grand Prix|
|First win||1955 British Grand Prix|
|Last win||1961 German Grand Prix|
|Last race||1961 United States Grand Prix|
Sir Stirling Craufurd Moss, OBE FIE (Fellow of the Institute of Engineers) (born 17 September 1929) is a former Formula One racing driver from England. An inductee into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame his success in a variety of categories placed him among the world's elite—he is often called "the greatest driver never to win the World Championship".
Moss was born in London, the son of Aileen (née Craufurd) and Alfred Moss, a dentist of Bray, Berkshire, where Stirling was raised at Long White Cloud house on the right bank of the River Thames. Alfred was an amateur racing driver who had placed 16th at the 1924 Indianapolis 500. Stirling was a gifted horse rider as was his younger sister, Pat Moss, who became a successful rally driver and married Erik Carlsson.
Moss was educated at independent schools; Shrewsbury House School (Surbiton) Clewer Manor Junior School and the linked senior school Haileybury and Imperial Service College. All were for boys (but the latter are now co-educational except for Shrewsbury) and located at Hertford Heath, near Hertford.
Moss, who raced from 1948 to 1962, won 212 of the 529 races he entered, including 16 Formula One Grands Prix. He would compete in as many as 62 races in a single year and drove 84 different makes of car over the course of his racing career, including Lotus, Vanwall, Maserati, Jaguar, Ferrari and Porsche. Like many drivers of the era, he competed in several formulae—very often on the same day.
He retired in 1962 after a crash left him in a coma for a month, as afterwards he felt unable to continue driving at a professional level. In spite of this early retirement he has remained a well-known figure.
Moss was one of the first customers of the Cooper Car Company when,using money won from his horse riding events, he put a deposit on a racing car. He eventually managed to persuade his father, who was very much against Stirling becoming a racing driver, wanting him to become a dentist, to allow him to purchase one of the new Cooper 500 cars. He quickly demonstrated his ability with numerous wins, at national and international level, and continued to compete in Formula Three, both in Coopers and Kieft cars long after graduating to the senior categories.
His first major international race victory was in the 1950 RAC Tourist Trophy for sports cars on the Dundrod circuit in Northern Ireland. He went on to win the Tourist Trophy six more times: 1951 (Jaguar C-Type), 1955 (Marcedes-Benz 300SLR), 1958 & 1959 (Aston Martin DBR1) and 1960 & 1961 (Ferrari 250 GT).
Moss was a pioneer in the British Formula One racing scene and was second in the Drivers' Championship four times in a row from 1955 to 1958.
Moss was also a competent rally driver and is one of only three people to have won a Coupe d'Or (Gold Cup) for three consecutive penalty-free runs on the Alpine Rally (Coupe des Alpes). In addition, he finished second in the 1952 Monte Carlo Rally driving a Sunbeam-Talbot 90 with co-driver John Cooper.
Mercedes racing boss Alfred Neubauer approached Moss's manager Ken Gregory in 1953, and showed an interest in Moss's services, but after having seen Moss do well in a mediocre car, Neubauer wanted to see how Moss would do in a better car, and suggested that they buy a Maserati for the 1954 season, which they did. Moss did not get high up in the championship points because of unreliability, but he often qualified alongside the Mercedes frontrunners and performed very well; the best of these performances being at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, where he passed both men who at time were considered to be the two best Formula One drivers at the time- Juan Manuel Fangio in a Mercedes and Alberto Ascari in a Ferrari for the lead. Ascari retired with engine problems, and Moss led until lap 68 until he too developed engine problems, and Fangio went by to take the victory, with Moss pushing his Maserati 250F to the finish line. Neubauer, already impressed having seen Moss test the W196 at Hockenheim, promptly then signed Moss up to drive for the 1955 season.
Moss's first Formula One win was his home race, the 1955 British Grand Prix at Aintree. He became the first British driver to win the British Grand Prix. His Mercedes-Benz W196 led home a 1–2–3–4 win for the German marque. It was the first race where he finished in front of Fangio, his teammate, friend, mentor, and archrival at Mercedes. It is sometimes debated whether Fangio, one of the all-time great gentlemen of sport, allowed Moss to win in front of his home crowd. Moss himself asked Fangio repeatedly, "Did you let me win?" and Fangio always replied, "No. You were just better than me that day."
One of his best remembered drives was in the 1955 Mille Miglia, which he won in the record time of 10 hours 7 minutes 48 seconds, finishing almost half an hour ahead of teammate Fangio in second place. Moss' navigator in the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR #722 (indicating the time of the start) was journalist Denis Jenkinson. As navigator, Jenkinson supported Moss with pace notes in the form of a Roller Map, which listed all the details of the long road trip, then an innovative technique. This assistance helped Moss compete against drivers who had a lot of local knowledge of the route. Jenkinson later wrote extensively about the experience.
Moss won the Nassau Cup at the 1956 and 1957 Bahamas Speed Week. Also in 1957 he won on the longest circuit ever to hold a World Championship Grand Prix, the daunting 25 km (16 mi) Pescara Circuit, again demonstrating his skills at high speed, long distance driving. He beat Fangio, who started on pole, by a little over 3 minutes over the course of a gruelling 3-hour event.
Moss believed the manner in which the battle was fought was as important as the outcome. This sporting attitude cost him the 1958 Formula 1 World Championship. When rival Mike Hawthorn was threatened with a penalty in the Boavista Urban Circuit in Porto, Portugal, Moss defended Hawthorn's actions. Hawthorn was accused of reversing in the track after spinning and stalling his car on an uphill section of the track. Moss himself shouted the suggestion to Hawthorn that he steer downhill, against traffic, to bump-start the car, which Hawthorn did. Moss's quick thinking and then gracious defence of Hawthorn before the stewards preserved Hawthorn's 6 points for his second-place finish (behind Moss). Hawthorn went on to beat Moss for the title by one point even though he won only one race that year to Moss's four, making Hawthorn Britain's first World Champion.
Moss was as gifted at the wheel of a sports car as he was in a Grand Prix car. In addition to the Tourist Trophy, Sebring 12 hours and Mille Miglia victories described above for three consecutive years (1958–1960) he won the gruelling 1,000 km (620 mi) race at Germany's Nürburgring, the first two years in an Aston Martin (in which he won almost single-handedly) and the third in the memorable Tipo 61 "birdcage" Maserati, co-driving with the American driverDan Gurney. The pair lost nearly six minutes when an oil hose blew off, but in miserable conditions they regained the time and won going away.
In the 1960 Formula One season, Moss took the top step of the podium at Monaco, winning in Rob Walker's Coventry-Climax-powered Lotus 18. Moss had a huge accident at the Burnenville sweep during practice for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps and was severely injured in what was to be one of the darkest weekends in the history of Formula One. He missed 3 races and did not race for most of that year. He recovered sufficiently to return to competition late in the year and won the season-ending US Grand Prix at Riverside, California.
For the 1961 F1 season, which was run under the new 1.5-litre rules, Enzo Ferrari rolled out his state-of-the-art "sharknose" Ferrari 156 with an all-new V6 engine. Moss was stuck with an underpowered Climax-engined Lotus, but managed to win the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix by 3.6 seconds (beating the 156s of Richie Ginther, Wolfgang von Trips, and Phil Hill), and later also the partially wet 1961 German Grand Prix. Some observers have noted that, while taking nothing away from Moss's superlative performances in those races, there were other factors at play. At Monaco, the tight circuit negated the horsepower advantage of the powerful but heavy and ill-handling Ferraris; and at the Nürburgring, Moss and manager Ken Gregory made a risky but inspired decision to fit rain tyres on the Lotus after a pre-race shower had soaked the track. Had the skies cleared and the track dried, the decision would have been disastrous for Moss. When rain returned, Moss was able to drive away from Hill and Trips (while nursing rapidly deteriorating tyres) to take the win.
In 1962, Moss was badly injured in a crash at Goodwood in a Lotus in the Glover Trophy. The accident put him in a coma for one month and partially paralysed the left side of his body for six months. He recovered but decided to retire from racing after a private test session in a Lotus 19 the next year. During this session, he lapped a few tenths slower than before, and did not feel he had the command of the car to which he was accustomed. Many racing and medical observers have speculated that Moss simply tried to return too soon – that another six months of recovery and training would have allowed him to regain most of the physical acuity that distinguished him.
Away from driving, in 1962 he acted as a colour commentator for ABC's Wide World of Sports for Formula One and NASCAR races. He eventually left ABC in 1980 when he made a brief driving comeback in the British Touring Car Championship with Audi, alongside Martin Brundle. Previous to this he also competed in the 1974 World Cup Rally in a Mercedes-Benz but retired from the event in the Algerian Sahara, he shared a Holden Torana with Jack Brabham in the 1976 Bathurst 1000 which was rammed from behind on the grid and eventually retired with engine failure, and a Volkswagen Golf GTI with Denny Hulme in the 1979 Benson & Hedges 500 at Pukekohe Park Raceway in New Zealand.
During his career, Moss drove a private Jaguar, and raced for Maserati, Vanwall, Cooper, and Lotus, as well as Mercedes-Benz. He preferred to race British cars, stating, "Better to lose honourably in a British car than win in a foreign one". The British cars were often uncompetitive and one reason he never won the drivers' championship. At Vanwall, he was instrumental in breaking the German/Italian stranglehold on F1 racing (as was Jack Brabham at Cooper). Moss remained the English driver with the most Formula One victories until 1991 when Nigel Mansell overtook him after competing in more races.
In more recent years he continued to race in historic competition, including racing his own OSCA FS 372 during the 2009 season. On 9 June 2011 during the Le Mans Legends qualifying session Sir Stirling Moss announced his retirement from racing to listeners on Radio Le Mans.
Complete Formula One World Championship results
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)
- † Indicates shared drive with Hans Herrmann and Karl Kling.
- * Indicates shared drive with Cesare Perdisa.
- ‡ Indicates shared drive with Tony Brooks.
- џ Indicates shared drive with Maurice Trintignant, no points scored.
- 1955; Champion: Juan Manuel Fangio (40 points, Gap: 17 points)
- 1956; Champion: Juan Manuel Fangio (30 points, Gap: 3 points)
- 1957; Champion: Juan Manuel Fangio (40 points, Gap: 15 points)
- 1958; Champion: Mike Hawthorn (42 points, Gap: 1 point)
- 1959; Champion: Jack Brabham (31 points, Gap: 5 1⁄2 points)
- 1960; Champion: Jack Brabham (43 points, Gap: 24 points)
- 1961; Champion: Phil Hill (34 points, Gap: 13 points)
After his racing career
In June 2005, while appearing at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Moss signed the bonnet of his 1955 Mille Miglia winning Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR which was to be its last year of public appearances it made over numerous years, before retiring to the newly built Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart.
Moss has been an outspoken critic of Michael Schumacher, but in October 2006 Moss ranked Schumacher joint fourth (with Tazio Nuvolari) in the pantheon of all-time great drivers, behind Juan Manuel Fangio, Ayrton Senna, and Jim Clark.
His 80th birthday, on 17 September 2009, fell on the eve of the Goodwood Revival. Lord March celebrated Stirling's birthday by having the 80/80 parade on each of the three days of the Revival, comprising 80 cars, one for each of his 80 years. Stirling drove different cars on each of three days, the Mercedes W196 Monoposto, the Lotus 18 he had used to win the 1961 Monaco GP, and the Aston Martin DBR3.
On 7 March 2010 Moss broke both ankles, broke four bones in a foot, chipped four vertebrae, and suffered skin damage in an accident at his home when he fell down a lift shaft. Moss recovered from his injuries and made an appearance at the 2010 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, presenting Lewis Hamilton with his second place trophy on the podium and appearing in a pre-race interview with the BBC pundits.
On 9 June 2011, during the qualifying session for the Le Mans Legends race, for which he was entered as a driver, Stirling Moss announced his retirement from driving.
In 1990, Moss was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
In the New Year Honours 2000 List, Moss was made a Knight Bachelor for services to Motor Racing. On 21 March 2000, he was knighted by Prince Charles, standing in for the Queen who was on an official visit to Australia. As Moss drove his Mercedes away from Buckingham Palace after the ceremony, he was stopped by a palace guard who joked: "Who do you think you are? Stirling Moss?" Moss smiled and replied "Sir Stirling Moss, actually."
He received the 2005 Segrave Trophy.
In 2006, Moss was awarded the FIA gold medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution to motorsport.
In December 2008, McLaren-Mercedes unveiled their final model of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. The model was named in honour of Stirling Moss, hence, Mercedes McLaren SLR Stirling Moss, which has a top speed of 217 mph (349 km/h) with wind deflectors instead of a windscreen.
In 1963, noted motorsports author and commentator Ken Purdy published a biographical book entitled All But My Life about Stirling Moss (first published by William Kimber & Co., Ltd., London), based on material gathered through interviews with Moss.
For many years during and after his career, the rhetorical phrase "Who do you think you are, Stirling Moss?" was supposedly the standard question all British policemen asked speeding motorists. Moss relates he himself was once stopped for speeding and asked just that; he reports the traffic officer had some difficulty believing him. As related in the book The Life and Times of Private Eye, Moss was the subject of a less than respectful cartoon biography in the magazine Private Eye. The cartoon, drawn by Willie Rushton, showed him continually crashing, having his driving licence revoked and finally "hosting television programmes on subjects he knows nothing about". It also made reference to the amnesia Moss suffered from as a result of head injuries sustained in the crash at Goodwood in 1962. According to the book, Moss responded by offering to buy the original of the cartoon, an outcome the book describes as "depressingly common" for its satirical cartoons about famous people.
In March 1958, Moss was a guest challenger on the TV panel show "What's My Line?" (episode with Anita Ekberg).
He is one of the few drivers of his era to create a brand from his name for licensing purposes, which was launched when his website was revamped in 2009 with improved content.
"I certainly had an appreciation of the danger which to me was part of the pleasure of racing. To me now racing is – the dangers are taken away: if it's difficult, they put in a chicane. So really now the danger is minimal – which is good, because people aren't hurt. But for me the fact that I had danger on my shoulder made it much more exciting. It's rather like if you flirt with a girl, it's more exciting than paying for a prostitute, because while you know you're gonna get it, the other one you don't. And I think with driving a motor car, the danger is a very necessary ingredient. Like if you're cooking, you need salt. You can cook without salt, but it doesn't have the flavour. It's the same with motor racing without danger. For me."
On older drivers: "You don't know how many years they've driven causing accidents! I'm not quite as urgent as I was... I know that my knowledge of road signs, there's some that I might not know which I should know... The other thing I find as I get older I'm less inclined to check the oil and check the tyres and so on, which is very important."
In March 2013 Moss upset gay rights campaigners when he said that he would not want a "poofter" to play him on screen. He continued: "I think it would be difficult for someone of the other persuasion, who is homosexual, to take on the part, as I have spent my life driving cars and chasing girls".
In April 2013 Moss caused upset again by claiming that women "lacked the mental aptitude" to compete in Formula 1.
- Up until 1990, not all points scored by a driver contributed to their final World Championship tally (see list of points scoring systems for more information). Numbers without parentheses are Championship points; numbers in parentheses are total points scored.
- "Sir Stirling Moss". grandprix.com. Retrieved 2006-10-21.
- "English F1 Legend Moss Holds Unique Place in AARWBA Lore". indianapolismotorspeedway.com. 14 October 2004. Retrieved 2008-08-29.
- "Hamilton still on track to greatness". London: independent.co.uk. 22 October 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-29.
- Tremayne, David and Mark Hughes. The Concise Encyclopedia of Formula One. London: Dempsey Parr, 1998, p.169. ISBN 1-84084-037-4.
- Wright, Alfred (12 December 1960). "A Long, Loud Huzzah For Nassau". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- Kettlewell, Mike. "Monaco: Road Racing on the Riviera", in Northey, Tom, editor. World of Automobiles (London: Orbis, 1974), Volume 12, p.1384.
- Kettlewell, p.1384.
- "International Motorsports Hall of Fame".
- Green, Evan. A Boot Full of Right Arms, Cassell Australia, 1975.
- "Stirling Moss announces retirement at age of 81". Reuters. 9 June 2011.
- The Stirling Moss Website – News
- "Stirling Moss falls down lift shaft". Eurosport (TF1 Group; Thomson Reuters). 8 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
- Noble, Jonathan (8 March 2010). "Moss injured in lift accident". autosport.com (Haymarket Publications). Retrieved 2010-03-08.
- Sir Stirling Moss retires from historic racing – Classics Monthly
- AP (21 March 2000). "Stirling Moss receives knighthood". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
- Legend Moss receives FIA honour
- English, Andrew (8 May 2012). "Sir Stirling Moss interview". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- UKIP sprouts as celebrities make a stand on Brussels
- Monaco – Race of Kings, (IMC Vision, 2008)
- BBC – Stirling Moss on elderly drivers
- "Twelve months' ban and £50 fine on Stirling Moss". The Times (London). 14 April 1960. p. 6.
- Bowie-Sell, Daisy (14 March 2013). "Stirling Moss doesn't want a 'poofter' to play him on film". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- "Sir Stirling Moss draws criticism for homophobic comment". Yahoo! Sport Uk & Ireland. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- Barretto, Lawrence (15 April 2013). "Sir Stirling Moss says women lack mental aptitude for Formula 1". BBC Sport. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Stirling Moss.|
- Sir Stirling Moss – Official Web Site
- Grand Prix History – Hall of Fame, Stirling Moss
- Stirling Moss profile at The 500 Owners Association