Tears and laughter at the funeral of Sir Stirling Moss

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The private funeral of Sir Stirling Moss took place last Friday. A celebration of his life will be held when restrictions allow

Stirling Moss at the 1959 Dutch Grand Prix

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Very quietly on Friday afternoon, Sir Stirling Moss took his final journey. His funeral was held at Mortlake Crematorium in the presence of his closest family members. As per their wishes the press were not notified until after the event had taken place, allowing them to grieve in private.

Although I was not there, I can tell you there was laughter amid the tears and that even the Reverend overseeing proceedings managed to crack a joke or two. At the funeral of a man who loved laughing almost as much as he loved driving, it was entirely fitting.

In time however thoughts will turn to the rather larger, less sombre celebration of his life that will take place as and when current restrictions on travel and large gatherings are lifted. I spoke to Lady Susie over the weekend and she is adamant that not only will such an event take place, but that it will be one that befits Stirling’s position both in the constellation of motor racing stars and, more importantly, the hearts of his legion of fans both here and around the world. Beyond that, and understandably in all the circumstances, there are as yet no further plans.

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There are, of course, no shortage of places in Britain that would be a fitting venue given that he raced everywhere there was to race in period. But obvious choices would be Goodwood where his career effectively started in 1948 and where it ended in 1962. He won so much there, not least the World Sports Car Championship for Aston Martin in 1959. And there’s Aintree where in 1955 he won his first World Championship F1 race and at the same time became the first British driver to win the British Grand Prix. Or there’s Silverstone, home of his beloved BRDC, the RAC in London whose Tourist Trophy he won seven times – a number to this day no-one else has even approached.

But just as compelling, at least to me, are the cars you’d invite along. So let us say, just for the sake of amusement, whatever venue was chosen had space for just ten machines. Which would they be?

For me some are essential, like a little 500 of the kind in which he made his name. A C-type Jaguar too, because the work he did perfecting its disc brakes with Norman Dewis and others helped change not just motor racing, but motoring itself.

Of course there’s have to be a Mercedes 300SLR and a Vanwall in which he helped the marque become the first British make to win the Constructors’ title too. An Aston Martin DBR1 seems essential, as does a Cooper-Climax T43 in which he won Cooper’s first F1 race in Argentina in 1958 and the first by a mid-engined car. And a Lotus 18 because he always ranked his wins in Rob Walker’s at Monaco and the Nurburgring among his finest.

But we’re already up to seven cars and could you really not have a Maserati 250F there? The car he raced privately that got him noticed by Alfred Neubauer and which therefore set the course for the rest of his racing life? And I think any celebration of Stirling’s life would be poorer without a Ferrari 250SWB, like that in which he won his final two TTs at Goodwood in 1960 and 1961.

Which leaves just one which must surely be the oddball Ferguson-Climax P99 in which he won the 1961 Oulton Park Gold Cup. Why? Actually not because it was then and remains to this day the only car to win a Formula 1 race car equipped with four-wheel drive, or at least not entirely. I’d have it there because it was the car that Stirling, a technophile of the very first order, most often told me was the one he most enjoyed racing.
Which would I leave out? Probably the BRM V16 he reckoned was the worst car he ever drove (though there were plenty of candidates) and the Audi 80 in which he so bitterly regretted returning to racing.

When and in what form this celebration will take place is in the hands of forces beyond our control, but as soon as there is any news about it, we will be sure to let you know.

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