I’m meeting Sir Stirling Moss on Wednesday for the first time for an interview for my motorsport column Trackside over at Autotrader.co.uk.
I don’t mind admitting I’m a little bit nervous about meeting one of Britain’s greatest racing drivers. Words and phrases like “legend” and “national institution” are bandied around too freely, but all the usual superlatives genuinely apply to Moss – and many more besides.
Even though 47 years have passed since his last Grand Prix, Moss’s unfortunate claim to be the best F1 driver never to win the title has never been challenged. Not for nothing did veteran F1 journalist Alan Henry recently write a book arguing Moss was the greatest Formula 1 driver ever.
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the world championship Moss really should have won above all others. But the 1958 title went to Mike Hawthorn:
|1||Mike Hawthorn||42||1: France|
|2||Stirling Moss||41||4: Argentina, Netherlands, Portugal, Morocco|
When Moss was at his peak, from the mid-1950s until his career-ending accident at Goodwood in 1962, Formula 1 drivers regularly competed in range of different series. His was one of the great versatile talents and he won time trials, endurance sports car races, road rallies, record attempts and much more besides Grands Prix. As Robert Edwards described in Moss’s authorised biography:
Counting all heats and finals, but discouting speed trials, rallies, record attempts and hill climbs, Stirling Moss entered 529 racing events. He won 212 of them: 40.075% of those entered.
It’s hard to quantify genius, but that comes close. Another measure is the staggering speed at which he scored one of his most celebrated victories, the 1955 Mille Miglia (below). Racing along almost 1,000 miles of bumpy, narrow, and often perilous Italian roads, his average speed of 97.96mph would never be beaten.
I can think of a million things to ask him. Unfortunately I’ve only got 20 minutes. Where do I start?
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