The response to the launch of our new Motor Sport sound archive has been encouraging, many of you telling us that not only have you enjoyed the interview with Lord Hesketh but that it’s good value for money. Hopefully, as word gets around, the audio archive will become a source of information as well as a place for entertainment for those who enjoy some nostalgia.
Our next tape, with Sir Stirling Moss, is available now and I think you will find it illuminating. Still the most famous racing driver, the name everyone knows wherever you go in the world, Stirling has always been worth listening to, always calling a spade a spade, and never shy of a strong and sometimes left-field opinion.
This archive interview was done by Mike Lawrence who joined my Track Torque radio programme when he was still an English teacher at a Hampshire school. When I first met Mike and suggested he might like to contribute to the show he often referred to ‘God’ and I soon became aware that he was talking about Stirling Moss. We’d both grown up watching Moss and of course we were, in common with most aficionados, in awe of his talent and his ability to win in every kind of car.
When I first started going racing, at Goodwood in the 1950s, my Father used to point out to me how and where Moss was gaining his advantage and I quickly learnt to appreciate the precision, the fluency and the consistency of his race driving.
And the man was so competitive, always looking for the gap, for that extra tenth. Only a win was good enough, whether he be in a 500cc Cooper-Norton, a Jaguar saloon, a Ferrari Berlinetta or Rob Walker’s Lotus. He never looked flustered, sitting with his head back, that calm expression on his face, hands at ten-to-two on the wheel, minimal movements. He and Jim Clark seemed to have this serenity in a racing car and when, many years later, I started watching Alain Prost, I was reminded of this gift.
I soon had his signature in my little red autograph book and was introduced to him on many occasions in the Goodwood paddock where, without fail, he would answer my questions with patience and good humour. I remember him arriving for a race meeting in his brand new pale blue Mini very soon after Alec Issigonis’s revolutionary car had been launched. None of us had ever seen one on the road before.
Out he hopped, signed yet more autographs, and showed us around the little car, its funny sliding windows, its cords for opening the doors and that huge round speedometer flanked by useful shelves and little else.
On Easter Monday in 1962 I was perched, as ever, on my seat in the chicane grandstand at Goodwood as Moss raced back through the field after a pitstop. I clearly recall my Father nudging me, pointing at Moss as he went by, and saying, “look at Stirling, you won’t often see this kind driving. He’s going to catch them all.” Not many laps later, challenging for the lead, Moss crashed heavily on the exit of Fordwater corner and was badly hurt. I was shocked; he was my hero.
As he lay in a coma in hospital in Chichester, I wrote him a letter wishing him a speedy recovery. Weeks later, a letter arrived for me in an envelope with ‘SM’ embossed in green letters on the back. It was a typed letter, on headed ‘Stirling Moss Limited’ notepaper from the man himself, signed by hand, thanking me for my good wishes. I still have the letter somewhere in my chaotic archive. He was, and still is, punctilious about these things.
Now you can sit back and enjoy the great man telling his tales of a truly extraordinary career that came to such an abrupt end at Goodwood that day in 1962. This is just part one of a two-hour story, so keep an eye out for part two later in the year. I hope you enjoy listening to one of the greatest racing drivers of all time.
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