Sir Stirling Moss OBE is arguably the greatest all-round racing driver of all time and a true icon of the motor racing world. Known during his career as ‘Mr Motor Racing’ he became a professional driver in 1948, at the age of 18, racing a Cooper 500.
His early career was meteoric, with works drives for both Jaguar and HWM. 1955 was a seminal year; he was signed by Mercedes-Benz, the famed “Silver Arrows”, to partner the legendary World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio. That year saw Stirling shadow the great Argentine in most Grands Prix, famously beating him to win the British Grand Prix at Aintree racing the Mercedes-Benz W196 Monoposto. In that same year, he also won the epic 1,000 mile Mille Miglia road race in the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR at an astonishing average speed of 97.96mph on public roads, the Targa Florio road race, again in the 300 SLR, and the Tourist Trophy at Dundrod.
“In 1955 he was signed up by Mercedes-Benz to partner World Champion Fangio…”
For four years he would finish runner-up in the Formula 1 Drivers World Championship, his sportsmanship at the Portuguese GP allowing Mike Hawthorn to win the 1958 Championship title by half a point at his expense.
After Mercedes-Benz retired from motor racing following the 1955 Le Mans tragedy, Stirling led the Maserati and Vanwall teams. He raced 107 different types of car, across all classes of motor sport, during his remarkable career.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, he led the changeover to rear engined Formula 1 cars with the Cooper-Climax, achieving the first victory for such a car at the 1958 Argentine Grand Prix, and was in a class of his own during this period. His victory in the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix, racing a Lotus 18 against the more powerful Ferrari’s, was his third Formula 1 victory around Principality and is still regarded as one of the best Formula 1 races ever.
Between 1954, his first year with what Stirling considered a proper Formula 1 car, the Maserati 250F, and 1962, he took part in 318 races of all types, finished in 225 of them, and bear in mind cars were not reliable in those days, and won 134.
“Stirling considered the Maserati 250F to be his first proper F1 race car…”
He drove a Ferrari on 14 occasions, winning 12 of the races entered and taking 10 fastest laps. Of the remaining two races, he was disqualified at Sebring because the mechanics put in fuel when in fact the car had come in for brake linings, and in the 1961 Le Mans the radiator hose was cut by a fan blade when he was third overall and leading the GT Class.
Stirling drove for Rob Walker from 1958 to 1962, taking part in 93 races, finishing 70 of them with 46 first places, and also drove a Maserati in 72 races, finishing in 50 with 25 first places and 31 lap records. Out of the 375 competitive races in which he finished during his professional racing career, he won an astonishing 212, which is more than one win in two! A near-fatal accident at Goodwood in 1962 ended it all.
Once the decision to retire from professional motoring racing was made, Stirling expanded his commercial interests with the same vigour that he employed when racing, chief amongst these being his property business, which he runs to this day with his family. He also designed his home in Mayfair which incorporated home comforts and gadgets which were ahead of their time in the 1960s, including an automated system for running a bath at a pre-set temperature, which could be triggered by pushing a button on one of many control panels located around the house. He continued to race in historic racing, his familiar White patey helmet and Blue light weight race suit being a regular feature at historic races across the globe.
Stirling is well known for his love of design and the latest gadget. In 2009 the Stirling Moss brand was created, see above, which has led to the brand being licensed. During qualifying for 2011 Le Mans Legends race Stirling made the decision to retire from competitive racing. He continues to demonstrate the cars he raced and take part in car rallies.
One of the original jet-setters, he remains in huge demand around the world to this day – a true British legend.