- September 17, 1929
- April 12, 2020
- United Kingdom
- Not Active
Sir Stirling Moss, a former British racing driver, is considered as the greatest ever driver who never won the Formula One World Championship. He debuted in F1 in 1951, reaching the peak in the late 1950s. Between 1955 and 1958, he was the championship runner-up four times in a row. From 1959 to 1961, he was a third-placed driver for three consecutive years. After 66 Formula One World Championship starts, with 16 victories and 24 podiums, he retired in 1962, suffering severe injuries in a racing accident.
Except in Formula One, Moss was successful in other racing disciplines, especially in the sports car racing. He climbed two times on the Le Mans podium and won Sebring 12h once, but the race which marked his life was the epic victory at 1955 Mille Miglia with #722 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR. Moss also competed few times at Rallye Monte-Carlo, scoring second place in the 1952 edition.
Father wanted Stirling to be a dentist
Stirling Craufurd Moss was born on September 17, 1929, in West Kensington near London. His father Alfred was a dentist and an amateur racing driver who recorded a notable participation at 1924 Indianapolis 500, finishing in the 16th place. Stirling attended few schools and his father wanted for him to be a dentist.
Together with his sister Pat, who later became the famous rally driver, Stirling was a successful horse rider and he earned some money in horse-riding events, so he used that money as a deposit for his first race car, the 1948 Cooper 500. In the following months, he won numerous national and international events, also competing in the British Formula Three 500cc, winning the title.
1950 - First of seven wins at RAC Tourist Trophy
The first notable victory came on September 16, 1950, one day before his 21st birthday, at RAC Tourist Trophy at Dundrod Circuit. He was driving the Jaguar XK120. Later in a career, he won that famous race six more times with four different cars, in 1951 (Jaguar C-Type), 1955 (Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR), 1958 and 1959 (Aston Martin DBR1), 1960 and 1961 (Ferrari 250 GT).
In 1950, he took one more title in the British Formula Three 500 cc, but also won the non-championship Formula 3 Monaco Grand Prix. In the same year, he participated in few non-championship Formula One races, driving HWM 51-Alta for HW Motors. His best result was third place at Bari Grand Prix.
In 1950, Moss also participated in the speed recorded braking at the Autodrome de Montlhéry. He and Leslie Johnson were driving the Jaguar XK120 for 24 hours around the oval track near Paris, setting the average speed of 107.46 mph (172.94 km/h) and covering a total of 2579.16 miles. It was the first time a production car had averaged over 100 mph (160.93 km/h) for 24 hours.
Formula One Championship debut in 1951
In 1951, Moss won Tourist Trophy again and added a victory at the British Empire Trophy in his CV. On May 27, 1951, he debuted in the Formula One World Championship, driving the HWM 51-Alta at Swiss Grand Prix at Bremgarten. He finished eighth, two laps behind the winner Juan Manuel Fangio.
During 1951, Moss also debuted in two great races – Mille Miglia and 24h Le Mans, retiring both times. In April, his partner at Mille Miglia was Frank Rainbow and they had an accident. In June, Moss raced for the first time at Circuit de la Sarthe, alongside Jack Fairman in the privately-entered Jaguar C-Type. They retired after 92 laps due to problems with oil pressure.
Retirements in all five races of 1952 Formula One season
In 1952, Moss expanded his Formula One championship participation on five races, driving for three different teams. He started with HW Motors at Swiss Grand Prix, then switched to ERA G Type at three races (Belgium, UK and Netherlands) and finished with Connaught Type A at Monza.
Moss didn't finish any of those five races. Especially disappointing was the episode with ERA, as he recorded three retirements because of engine failures. He was a little more successful in the F1 non-championship races, scoring a second place at Eifelrennen and fourth place at Newcastle Journal Trophy.
Second place at 1952 Rallye Monte-Carlo
Moss's greatest success in 1952 came in the rallying. He won the Coupe des Alpes, driving the Sunbeam-Talbot 90. With the same car, he finished second overall at 1952 Rallye Monte-Carlo. At Mille Miglia and 24h Le Mans, he again recorded two retirements. In both occasions with Jagua C-Type. His partner at Le Mans was Peter Walker.
In 1952, Moss revisited Montlhery oval track to participate in one record-breaking run. He was a member of the four-driver team which drove Jaguar XK120 for seven days and nights at the French track. They covered a total 16,851.73 miles with an average speed of 100.31 mph, setting four World records and five International Class C records.
Second place at 1953 Le Mans race with Jaguar
In 1953 Formula One Championship, Moss participated at Dutch Grand Prix with Connaught Type A and then switched to Alta-powered Cooper Special for the rest of the season. His best result was 6th place at German Grand Prix at Nürburgring Nordschleife.
While waiting for his first podium and win in the Formula One, Moss continued to collect victories and podiums in other notable races around the world. In June 1953, Peter Walker was again his co-driver at 24 hours of Le Mans and they reached the overall podium, finishing second in the factory-entered #17 Jaguar C-Type. The winners were their teammates Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton in the #18 car. In July, Moss won 12 hours of Reims, sharing the Jaguar C-Type with Peter Whitehead.
1954 - Victory at Sebring and maiden F1 podium
The season 1954 was opened with Moss' victory at 12 hours of Sebring in March. He was driving the #56 Osca MT4 1450 for B.S.Cunningham, alongside Bill Lloyd. At 1954 Le Mans, Moss and Peter Walker competed for the third time together. They retired early, after 92 laps, due to brakes problems.
In the 1954 Formula One Championship, Stirling Moss was driving his own Maserati 250F in three races, including Belgian Grand Prix, where he scored his maiden championship podium. He finished third, behind J.M.Fangio and Maurice Trintignant. The two retirements followed at Silverstone and Nurburgring.
Moss then switched to factory-entered Maserati 250F at Swiss Grand Prix, where he retired due to oil pump problem. With the same car, he finished 10th at Monza and retired at Circuit Pedralbes in Spain. As he scored points in Belgium, Moss was classified in the season's standings for the first time, in the 13th place. In the non-championship F1 races, Moss scored three wins with Maserati, at International Gold Cup, Goodwood Trophy and Daily Telegraph Trophy.
Moss joined Mercedes for 1955 season
In 1955, the first race of the season was Argentine Grand Prix, the first round of the Formula One Championship. Moss joined Mercedes (Daimler-Benz AG) to drive a new W196 car. In Argentina, he shared the #8 car with Hans Herrmann and Karl Kling. They finished fourth and gets one point each.
In March, Moss returned to Sebring to compete in the 12-hour race. He and Lance Macklin were driving the factory-entered #44 Austin-Healey 100S and they finished sixth. For the rest of the season, Moss joined Mercedes, both in Formula One and sports car racing.
The legendary 1955 Mille Miglia victory with #722 Mercedes
On May 1, 1955, his legendary victory at Mille Miglia followed. Partnered by a journalist Denis Jenkinson as a navigator, Stirling Moss crushed the competition in the #722 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR. They completed the 992-mile distance in 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds, with an average speed of 99 mph (160 km/h).
Moss was 32 minutes faster than the second-placed driver, his teammate Juan Manuel Fangio. For that victory, Moss has to thank mostly to Jenkinson's innovative pace notes,which allowed him to drive confidently and fast in the blinds corners.
Tragedy at 1955 Le Mans race
After a glorious victory at Mille Miglia, Moss returned fo Formula One racing. He finished ninth at Monaco and scored two podiums, finishing second in Belgium and Netherlands. In June, Mercedes had a dream team for the 24 hours of Le Mans, with Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss in the #19 300 SLR.
First F1 victory in a career at 1955 British Grand Prix
A month later, at British Grand Prix at Aintree Circuit near Liverpool, Stirling Moss has won his first F1 championship race, crossing the finish line just 0.2 Seconds ahead of Fangio. Because of Le Mans tragedy, three F1 Grand Prix races were canceled (Germany, Switzerland and Spain) so the Italian Grand Prix in September remained the only race in a calendar. Fangio won that race and took his third F1 title, while Moss finished second in the points.
World's sportcar championship title with Mercedes
In September, Moss won the Tourist Trophy for the third time, sharing the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR with John Fitch. In October 1955, Moss concluded his most successful year with one more great victory, at Targa Florio, sharing the #104 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR with Peter Collins. The race was the last round of the World Sportscar Championship. Mercedes' 1-2 victory, with Moss/Collins and Fangio/Kling on the podium, secured the title for the German manufacturer, ahead of Ferrari and Jaguar.
Although the season 1955 was remembered as Moss' milestone year, in which he became one of the world's leading drivers and scored many great wins, he was even more successful in the following years.
1956 - F1 championship runner-up with Maserati
After Mercedes withdrew from motorsport, at the end of 1955, Moss joined Officine Alfieri Maserati in the 1956 Formula One Championship. His Maserati 250F was victorious in two races (Monaco and Monza).
He added two more podiums (Spa and Nurburgring) to finish again as the championship runner-up, behind Fangio. In the non-championship F1 races, he was the winner three times, including BRDC International Trophy with Vanwall.
Second place at 1956 Le Mans race
In endurance races, at Le Mans and Sebring, Moss' partner was Peter Collins. They shared David Brown's Aston Martin DB3S. At Sebring, the duo didn't finish due to gearbox failure. At Le Mans, Moss reached one more podium, after finishing second overall, behind Ninian Anderson and Ron Flockhart in the Jaguar D-Type. Moss and Collins were the winners in the S3.0 class.
Moss and Denis Jenkinson returned to Mille Miglia in 1956, this time with Maserati 350S, but they had an accident and didn't finish the race. The list of Moss' victories in 1956 is long, to mention only some: Australian and New Zealand Grand Prix (Maserati 250F), Australian Tourist Trophy, 1000 km Buenos Aires and 1000 km Nurburgring (Maserati 300S), British Empire Trophy(Cooper-Climax).
British drivers with British car won the British Grand Prix
In 1957, Moss competed at season-opening Argentine F1 Grand Prix with Maserati 250F, finishing 8th, but later switched to British-made Vanwall 57. On July 27, Moss and Tony Brooks won the British Grand Prix at Aintree Circuit, which was the first time that British drivers won the British Grand Prix in the British car.
Two more wins followed at Pescara Grand Prix and Italian Grand Prix, but Moss was again short in the points for the championship title. He finished second for the third year in a row, Fangio won his fifth title.
Class win at 1957 Sebring 12h race
Outside Formula One, Moss' best result in 1957 was the class victory and second place overall at 12 hours of Sebring, in the factory-entered Maserati 300S, alongside co-driver Harry Schell. The winners were their teammates Jean Behra and Juan Manuel Fangio in the higher-class Maserati 450S. At Le Mans, Moss and Schell competed with Maserati 450S Zagato Coupe but retired after only 32 laps. The season 1957 was the last year of Mille Miglia race. Moss and Jenkinson returned with Maserati 450S but the broken brake pedal forced them to retire.
In August 1957, Moss broke five International Class F records in the purpose-built MG EX181 at Bonneville Salt Flats. He reached the speed of 245.64 mph, which was the average of two runs in opposite directions.
Four wins wasn't enough for 1958 Formula One title
After one win in 1955 F1 Championship, two wins in 1956 and three wins in 1957, Moss scored four wins in the 1958 Formula One Championship, but it wasn't enough for the title again. The champion was Ferrari's Mike Hawthorn, who won only one race but prevailed with five podiums. Moss' chances were ruined by five retirements. He was driving the Cooper T43-Climax in the season-opening Argentine Grand Prix, where he won. For the rest of the season, Stirling's car was the Vanwall 57.
In the 1958 marathon races, Moss was driving David Brown's Aston Martin DBR1/300. At Sebring 12h, Moss and Tony Brooks retired after 90 laps. At Le Mans 24h, Moss and Jack Brabham were racing for just 30 laps.
Victory at legendary 1958 Gran Premio de Cuba
Despite those retirements, the list of Moss' victories was long. Among other wins, he won for the first time at 1000 km of Nurburgring, driving the Aston Martin DBR1/300 together with Jack Brabham.
One of the most notable wins was the 1958 Gran Premio de Cuba. It was the race which was marked by the kidnapping of J.M. Fangio by the group of the armed men. Moss won the race in the Luigi Chinetti's Ferrari 335 S.
Third place in the 1959 F1 Championship
In 1959 Formula One Championship, Moss combined Rob Walker Racing's Cooper T51-Climax and BRM P25. He won two races with Cooper, in Portugal and Italy, adding one podium with BRM at British Grand Prix. At the end of the season, Moss was third in the points, behind Jack Brabham and Tony Brooks.
Outside F1, he returned to Le Mans with David Brown's Aston Martin DBR1/300, partnered by Jack Fairman, but an engine failure caused one more retirement. At 12 hours of Sebring, Moss competed with two Lister-Jaguar cars. After one car was disqualified because of an illegal refueling, he joined Briggs Cunningham's team in another car and finished 15th overall.
Master of the Nurburgring and the Tourist Trophy
In 1959, Moss scored a second consecutive win at Nurburgring 1000km race and won the Tourist Trophy for the fifth time, both races driving the Aston Martin DBR1. At Nurburgring, his partner was Jack Fairman, at Tourist Trophy they were joined by Carroll Shelby.
In February 1960, Moss scored a second consecutive win at the Cuban Grand Prix, this time driving the Maserati Tipo 61 for the Camoradi USA Racing Team. A month later, he failed to finish with the same car at 12 hours of Sebring, sharing the car with Dan Gurney. Gurney was Moss' co-driver in his third consecutive victory at 1000 km of Nurburgring, in May 1960. In August, Moss scored a sixth win at Tourist Trophy, driving the Ferrari 250 GT SWB.
Moss scored the first ever F1 win for Lotus
In the 1960 Formula One Championship, Moss was driving for Rob Walker Racing Team. At Argentine Grand Prix, he was sharing the Cooper T51 with Maurice Trintignant. They finished third but didn't get any points because of shared drive. For the rest of the season, Moss was driving the Lotus 18-Climax, winning the Monaco Grand Prix and the US Grand Prix at Riverside.
The victory in Monaco was the first ever win for Lotus in the F1 Championship. Moss missed three races after an injury at Spa, during practice for the Belgian Grand Prix. At the end of the season, he was third in the points, behind Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren.
Four DNFs when sharing the car with Graham Hill
In March 1961, Moss partnered one more legend at 12 hours of Sebring. It was Graham Hill. The duo competed with Camoradi's Maserati Tipo 61 but failed to finish. A few months later, Hill and Moss were partners again at 24 hours of Le Mans. They were sharing the North American Racing Team's #18 Ferrari 250 GT SWB, but water leak stopped the car.
Hill and Moss had no luck that year, as he competed together two more times and retired both times, driving the Porsche 718 RS at Targa Florio and Nurburgring 1000km race.
1961 - Last F1 victory at Nurburgring Nordschleife
In August, Moss scored his seventh win at Tourist Trophy, driving Rob Walker's Ferrari 250 GT SWB. He was driving for Rob Walker also in the 1961 Formula One season, changing three different versions of Lotus cars and scoring two wins, at Monaco Grand Prix and German Grand Prix. The victory at Nurburgring Nordschleife on August 6, 1961, was the last Stirling's F1 win.
His last F1 championship race was the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, on October 8, where he retired after an engine failure. At the end of his last F1 season, Moss was third in the points for the third year in a row. Phil Hill was the champion, ahead of Wolfgang von Trips, who was killed in the penultimate race of the season at Monza.
Retirement from professional racing after Goodwood's accident
Stirling Moss competed in the Formula One and other competitions and became the world's top driver in the most dangerous period, with fatal casualties seeing almost every month. He survived those dangerous times, but his career was unfortunately stopped by violent accident in April 1962, at Goodwood Circuit. He started from pole in the non-championship Glover Trophy race, driving the Lotus-Climax for UDT Laystall Racing Team. It was a team which his father and manager Ken Gregory formed to run Stirling's cars when he wasn't under contract with others.
After a crash, Moss was in a coma for a month. After he wakes up, his left side of the body was paralyzed for few more months. He recovered from injuries but that accident forced him to make a decision of retirement from professional racing, at the age 33.
More than 200 wins in a career
In his impressive career, from 1948 to 1962, he won 212 of 527 races he entered, including 16 Formula One Championship Grand Prix races. It's interesting that Moss competed with more than 80 different types of cars, being connected with greatest teams and manufacturers of the time, such were Mercedes, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Maserati, Ferrari, Porsche, Cooper, Lotus, ERA or Vanwall.
Sir Stirling Moss never stopped to driver race cars
Although retiring professionally from racing, Stirling Moss never stopped to drive race cars and he competed occasionally in some competitions, such were Bathurst 1000 or British Saloon Car Championship (in 1980 and 1981), but he mostly appeared as the guest at many historic and classic racing events. At 1976 Bathurst, he partnered another racing legend, Jack Brabham. On 9 June 2011, during qualifying for the Le Mans Legends race, Moss announced on Radio Le Mans that he would finally retire from racing, at the age of 82.
Moss retired from public life in January 2018 and died on Easter, April 12, 2020.
Many awards and two biographic books
For his achievements, Moss received the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) and he was knighted in 2000. Among many award and honors, he was the 1990 Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee, he received 2005 Seagrave Trophy and FIA awarded him with a gold medal in 2006 for his overall contribution in the motorsport. Two biographical books were published about Moss, 'All But my Life' in 1963 and 'My Racing Life' in 2015.