Who do you think you are, sir? Stirling Moss?
It was the ironic disapproving question asked over and over again over the years – until the traffic police stopped speeding motorists became too young to remember one of the greatest racing drivers Britain.
The sheepish answer was invariably negative – except once, when the man behind the wheel of an inflated Mini explained to the investigating officer that yes, he was.
“A police officer asked me once,” recalls Sir Stirling years later.
“But I couldn’t hear him taking the mick. “
The motorsport world yesterday was in mourning for Sir Stirling Moss, who died at the age of 90 of a long illness.
“It was too much; he just closed his eyes, “said his wife Susie, 66.
British racing driver Stirling Moss photographed in the Caribbean as he tries his hand with a rifle while recovering from injuries sustained in an accident at Goodwood, 1962
Much of the evil spirit of the post-war racing generation died with him. Moss, who had two children, was cut from a fabric different from that which adorns authoritarian society, at risk and painfully thin.
The risk was in his blood. It must have been in the grand prix races of his time.
Between 1948 and Moss’ forced retirement from a serious accident 14 years later, some 180 drivers died in competition, 50 of whom he knew personally.
It was in the late 1950s, when style was everything.
In his helmet and glasses with white visors, behind the wheel of an incredibly beautiful beast, Moss represented everything that was glamorous, dangerous – and British.
Euphemism and rampant sexism were the order of the day.
Near death, high speed accidents were “shunts”; the drinking partners were greeted in the cocktail bar with an “old boy”; and the attractive females were “crumpet”.
If the young star did not hunt laurels, he chased women – many of them – around the world. The pilots were deadly rivals on the track and best friends.
The legendary British racing driver Stirling Moss with his period fiancée Katie Molson in 1957
“My quality of life was much better than that of Jenson Button or Lewis Hamilton,” said three-time married Moss. “All I had to do was get in to drive the car, then leave and run after the crumpet.
“The race was bloody, but danger was one of the things that attracted me.”
A good rider in his youth, who turned to cars because they were “easier to drive”, Moss illustrated the athletes who were there more for fun and thrill than for money.
A teenager at the boarding school, his inspiration was Prince Bira, grandson of a 19th century Siam king (now Thailand), a legendary pilot who raced before and after the war.
“I thought it looked like a fabulous life,” said Moss. “Traveling around the world, meeting girls, going to parties.”
His prowess has earned him the most glamorous circles.
Grace Kelly and Steve McQueen were among his restoration partners, and when he suffered the accident that ultimately ended his driving career, Frank Sinatra was one of those who harassed the hospital to hear from him. .
Dapper and easygoing, Moss was a beacon of glamor in a Great Britain that was still recovering from the Second World War.
He never won a Formula 1 world championship, but it didn’t matter: points were not his thing.
Stirling Moss is pictured with his second wife Elaine on their wedding day in June 1964
The race – that day’s race – was everything. Ultra-competitive, he preferred to take risks and lose in style rather than to win boringly.
Whenever possible, he preferred a British car – which did him no good at a time when Italian and German products were faster and more reliable.
Imperturbable patriot, he found the Queen “fantastic”.
“We are very fortunate to have the royalty that we have, in my opinion,” he said. “It really scares me – republicanism. Soda it.
Her Majesty reimbursed the compliment with chivalry in 2000.
“He has reached the checkered flag of life and what a race he has led”: Gary Lineker and Frank Bruno join the stars of Formula 1 as they mourn Stirling Moss after his death at 90
Formula 1 paid tribute to Stirling Moss after his death at the age of 90.
Moss, who was often described as the greatest driver to ever win the World Championship, died in the early hours of Easter Sunday at his London home after a long battle with the disease.
The London-born racer was active in F1 throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, winning 212 of his 529 races in every type of car imaginable.
Although he never won the world title in Formula 1, his genius was recognized by his peers and fans of the sport, making it a name known more than half a century later.
The tragic news of his death provoked massive tributes, the drivers past and present paying tribute to the great man.
Williams’s British driver George Russell went to Twitter to remember past encounters with the iconic Briton.
Russell said, “RIP Sir Stirling Moss. I only had the pleasure of meeting him briefly a few times, but even that was enough to understand why he was so respected. My thoughts are with his family. “
Almost inevitably, her first two marriages did not last. His first, in 1957, to Katie Molson, an heiress of a Canadian brewery, ended quickly; his second, in 1964, with glamorous frame PR Elaine Barberino, an American, lasted only four years.
But his unrebuilt side also included the sense of fair play of an English gentleman.
In racing circles, Sir Stirling will be remembered for the world championship he could have won in 1958 but not – and all because he argued against the disqualification of a rival, Mike Hawthorn, of the Grand Price of Portugal.
Hawthorn continued to beat him to the title by one point. “My feelings about the incident never changed,” said Moss in 2009.
“It is irrelevant that I did not take the title afterwards. The fact that I was a finalist [for the world championship] four times gives me some exclusivity.
The choice of his name was also a matter of short duration. Moss’s father was a successful dentist of European Jewish descent (Moss was an anglicized contraction of Moses) and his mother was Scottish. She wanted to call him Hamish, but her father, Alfred, vetoed the name, suggesting her hometown of Stirling.
The young Stirling was subjected to anti-Semitic taunts at the private Haileybury Imperial Service College, near Hertford, and therefore became tough with rugby and boxing. Later, his father, an avid amateur racing driver, insisted that every penny of a loan for his first racing car be paid back by work – which left Stirling with a keen sense of the importance of l ‘silver.
Motor racing was not a formula for long life in the 1950s.
In his 14 years on the track, Moss has won 212 out of 529 starts – and that figure is even more impressive when you consider the number of outages – outages were very common at that time.
Moss suffered six brake failures and seven loose wheels, each of which was a life-threatening event. While there have been many highlights in his career, one stands out: his dangerously spectacular victory in the Mille Miglia, a 1,000 mile race across Italy on the public highway.
Stirling Moss pictured on his wedding day with new wife Susie Paine in April 1980
Sir Stirling’s racing career came to an abrupt halt on a grass bench at Goodwood in 1962.
In an attempt to pass Graham Hill, he crashed heavily, breaking his orbit and breaking his left arm and leg.
It took him 45 minutes to free him from the wreckage and he remained in a coma for 38 days, before finally leaving the hospital after three months – usually with the 11 nurses who had cared for him.
After testing a car the following year, Moss realized that it was no longer up to par. Retirement at 32 was unsustainable, so he set out to find a new job.
He was considering becoming a Member of Parliament because it didn’t require real talent, but found his medium in commenting and promoting motor sports, and later as a successful real estate developer.
There was another, much more important success: her marriage to her third wife, Susie, in 1980. Dedicated, lively, organized and half her age at marriage, she was his rock. The couple shared Sir Stirling’s gadget-infested home in Mayfair with pop-up TVs and other toys for boys.
Looking back on his high octane life, Stirling Craufurd Moss once said, “In my day, I was losing three or four friends a year, but I always liked being in danger. my shoulder.
“It was an aphrodisiac. No one was pushing your foot to the ground. You went as fast as possible and the faster you went, the greater the pleasure. I think the race should be dangerous. And if you don’t like it, do something else.
Farewell to a man who lived in the fast lane – in every sense of the word.