The rise of Sir Stirling

His success and legend is known by all, as Moss transcended his sport. Doug Nye shares the inside view on what drove the titan of racing

Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio in 1991

Moss and Fangio reunited in 1991

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Much of Stirling Moss’s story has been recorded within the pages of this magazine. From boyhood, he was one of its avid readers, a supporter and sometime critic. At 25, he put in perhaps the greatest winning drive in motor-sporting history, in the 1955 Mille Miglia, and he had our mutual friend and Motor Sport Continental Correspondent Denis Jenkinson right
there in the cockpit beside him. DSJ was reading painstakingly prepared route notes and making the hand signals which, if any had been incorrect, could have cost both their lives.

That bald fact demonstrates the difference in the racing environment through which Stirling lived, and so excelled. Topline motor sport from the 1940s through the 1960s was a world of the quick, and the dead. Racing risks were immense. He was one of the many who stepped up, stared down the gun barrel and then ultimately prevailed.

And while for much of his frontline career he was probably the most naturally gifted, and the best, for the last four years of his career he was undoubtedly and demonstrably both. Ignore that modern-era twaddle about never winning the World Championship. Truth was that although it hurt him to finish second for four consecutive years, it was a title he never needed. Every rival knew he was ‘The Man’. Beat Moss and you were somebody…

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