Thursday February 1, 2018
The recent news that Sir Stirling Moss ‘will finally retire, so that he and my mother can have some much deserved rest and spend more time with each other and the rest of the family’ prompted me (and, I suspect, countless years) to re-watch the footage of his racing career. This blog is by way of a tribute to the racer who between 1948 and 1962 took part in some 529 speed events– and won 212. He celebrated his 21st birthday in 1950 by driving a Jaguar XK120 to victory in the RAC Tourist Trophy. It was a race that he would win an incredible six more times and here are newsreels of the 1960 and 1961 events- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsEKnNJ9oiw and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRjhpdxFKGs. The footage may only last for 79 seconds but better a short glimpse of Roy Salvadori, Innes Ireland and of the Moss Ferrari 250GT crossing the finish line at Goodwood than 30 minutes of EastEnders.
1955 was a year that marked the first Formula One victory for Moss and this largely silent Pathe footage captures a little of the sheer thrill of that day at the British Grand Prix at Aintree. Sir Stirling defeated Juan Manuel Fangio to become the British driver to win the race - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aOu6x7MkWw. In that same year Moss co-drove with Peter Collins to victory at the Targa Florio - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_BzLevcp60 in addition to winning the Millie Miglia. The last-named was captured for posterity by Pathé, with priceless images of the first Briton to win the event. The figures speak for themselves – 1000 miles in 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds at an average speed of 98.53 mph - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmV0Y50a1UI
In the following year Maserati 250F Number 28 marked the first Continental racing victory for Moss - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuCo6fxs3hU and in 1957 he won the Pescara Grand Prix - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBcTcBbKqnQ. The latter marked yet another ‘first’ - a victory for a British driver and car (a Vanwall) in an overseas world championship race and 1957 further saw Moss pilot an MG EX 181 at 245 mph along the Bonneville flats - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXREGuIkBVc. He also won 1000 km Nürburgring in three successive years from 1958 to 1960, and this colour film from 1959 celebrates the achievements of both the driver and the Aston Martin - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDvybSyE4Sk
These, of course, are merely some of the highlights in the career of Stirling Moss. These flickering images in black & white or Eastmancolor are important, for they both celebrate his work and serve to inspire. They really are a look into another world; the advertising hoardings, the stirring voice overs, the lack of protection for drivers and spectators alike, the unmistakable silhouettes of the cars themselves. Above all, they provide the opportunity to experience the completion heyday of ‘the greatest driver never to win the World Championship’.
And so to my final two choices of newsreels. The first is a comic short about how a Tony Hancock-type Rapier Convertible owner has immense difficulty in finding a parking space although he does encounter Stirling en route - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdHv01IgcWs. The second is, to put matters simply, an opportunity to take a circuit of Brands Hatch with Stirling Moss - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaPiXect9gE. What else needs to be said?