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Stirling Moss

Sterlin moss.jpg


Sir Stirling Moss OBE (born September 17, 1929 in London) is a British auto racing driver.

Moss was a pioneer in the British Formula One racing scene and is regarded as the greatest driver never to win the Formula One Drivers' World Championship. He came second four times in a row from 1955 to 1958.

Moss won 194 of his 497 career races between 1948 and 1962, including 16 Formula One Grand Prix. In an interview at the Goodwood Revival, he once calculated that he had participated in 525 races overall, as many as 62 in a single year, in 84 different cars. Like many drivers of the era, he competed in several formulas - sometimes at the same time.File:Moss1.jpg

For Moss the manner in which the battle was fought was as important as the outcome, and this sporting attitude cost him the 1958 World Championship when he stood up for rival Mike Hawthorn, who faced a penalty in Portugal that would, in retrospect, have denied him the points that he needed to beat Moss. Stirling never for one moment entertained any thought of gaining an advantage in such a way, and in any case his natural sense of justice would not have allowed him to see Hawthorn unjustly penalised. So he stepped forward to defend him. Hawthorn subsequently went on to beat Moss by a mere point, even though he had only won one race that year to Moss's four. It was sufficient to make Mike Hawthorn Britain's first World Champion.

In 1962, Moss was badly injured in a crash at Goodwood while driving a Lotus. He recovered, made a premature attempt at a comeback, but found he was not fit enough and retired from GP racing. However, he has continued to race in historic cars, retaining his deceptively smooth driving style.

One of his most famous drives was in the 1955 Mille Miglia, the Italian 1500 km open-road endurance race, which he won in record time of 10 hours and 8 minutes (ahead of Juan Manuel Fangio who finished second). His co-driver in the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR number 722 (indicating the time of the start) was journalist Denis Jenkinson, who supported him with notes about details of the long road trip (an innovative technique that led directly to the rallying co-driver system). This assistance undoubtedly helped the win, but his innate ability was clearly the predominant factor. Indeed, it should be noted parenthetically that Moss was competing against drivers with a large amount of local knowledge of the route, and consequently his reconnaissance lap notes were considered an equaliser, rather than an advantage. Later, he wrote extensively about the experience.

Moss' first ever Formula One win was in 1955 at his home British Grand Prix at Aintree, driving the superb Mercedes-Benz W196 Monoposto. It was the only race where he finished in front of his team mate, friend, mentor and arch-rival at Mercedes, Juan Manuel Fangio. It is sometimes debated whether Fangio, one of the all-time great 'gentlemen' of sport, let Moss win in front of his home crowd by yielding the lead at the last corner. Moss questioned Fangio repeatedly about the race in the years after, and to the question "Did you let me win?" Fangio always replied "No. You were just better than me that day".

During his career, Moss drove a private Jaguar, and raced for Maserati, Vanwall, Lotus and Cooper as well as the mighty Mercedes-Benz. He prefered to race British cars (considered the reason he never won the Formula One world drivers' championship), and when at Vanwall he was instrumental in breaking the German/Italian stranglehold on F1 racing, kick-starting the British domination of single-seater racing design and engineering that continues to this day.

His patriotism and skill granted him triumph at one of his greatest drives: the 1961 edition of the Monaco Grand Prix. The 1961 F1 season was to be run according to 1.5 liter rules and anticipating this decision, Enzo Ferrari rolled out his state of the art 156 racers, also known as the "Sharknose." Meanwhile Moss was stuck with an underpowered Coventry-Climax. Nevertheless, the race truly went down to the wire and Moss won by a mere 3.6 seconds.

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.

Stirling Moss has a younger sister, Pat Moss who was also engaged in Rally racing; she is married to Erik Carlsson, another rally racer.

In 1990, he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

In June 2005, while appearing at the Goodwood Revival, Moss signed the bonnet of his 1955 Mille Miglia-winning Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR which is due to enter the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart.

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