Stirling Moss— My Cars, My Career by Stirling Moss, with Doug Nye. 304pp. 91/2″ x 5″. (Patrick Stephens Ltd, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. £19.95).
Having to review a book from unbound page-proofs , sans covers or pictures, is not an enviable task, and that is how this book came to me! But I feel the attempt has to be made, for this is undoubtedly one of the best motor racing books of 1987. From the pages of Stirling Moss’ own diaries, distilled by Doug Nye, it imparts this great driver’s impressions of all the 81 cars he raced, their characteristics, their peculiarities, and how the events in which he drove them worked out.
When it is realised that, in a career lasting from 1947 (with a 328 BMW) to 1962 (when he crashed the Lotus-Climax at Goodwood), Moss drove in 501 events, the scope of the book becomes apparent! Yet not only are all the cars (except for those used more recently in Historic fun events) detailed , but there are additional chapters covering his young days as an enthusiast, the development of his driving technique (in three stages; first learning, then following the master — Fangio, then maturity), and Moss’ racewear.
The cars covered, in the most fascinating detail along with brief accounts of their races, run from the Cooper 500s to the Aston Martin DB3S, Maserati 250F, 300S and 350S, and Cooper T39 Mk II which came at the end of Moss’ remarkable career. I should really give you the full list, to show you what you could let yourselves in for, but space forbids! Suffice it to say that alongside BRM V16 you get Sunbeam-Talbot 90; beside Mercedes-Benz W196 and 300SLR, you find Humber Super Snipe . . .
A comprehensive results list helps make this is a fascinating and valuable record of the racing life of a man who, with 173 victories and 382 finishes from 501 races (one win per 2.9 events contested, or one per 2.2 races finished), must be, as Nye says, the all-time “Mr Motor Racing.” In fact, Moss’ accounts say it all, very much as Stirling would speak it, and one feels there is little need for Nye’s long introduction eulogising his subject. Indeed, an American writer’s description therein of Moss’ attitude as “either victory or mechanical destruction” conflicts curiously with Nye’s own view that Stirling was not a car-breaker. . .
Judge for yourselves from this remarkable book, in which even Moss’ great drive with DSJ in the 1955 Mille Miglia gets a fresh slant, and for which the only racing driver who may have been faster than Moss, Juan Manuel Fangio, contributes a generous foreword.
I understand that the publication also contains 166 photographs, although I have yet to see them! WB