Lady Moss, who was at his bedside as he died, had nursed him through a long illness at their London home. “It was one lap too many,” she told the Press Association agency. “He just closed his eyes.”
His very name became a British byword for speed: “Who do you think you are..?” became popular among traffic police and, indeed, can still be heard today. He did indeed secure the Constructors’ Championship for Vanwall, but missed the Drivers’ crown for himself. Under modern rules he would have won it four times.
In 1958 during the Portuguese Grand Prix, which took place on the streets of Porto’s Circuito da Boavista he showed an act of outstanding chivalry. The course began at the harbour-front “Esplanada do Rio de Janeiro”, continued on “Avenida da Boavista” and then twisted its way through small neighbourhoods back to the start-finish line. The course took drivers at high speeds across tramlines, past small houses and over cobblestone streets thus making it extremely difficult to overtake.
Moss’s rival for the title, Mike Hawthorn, faced disqualification for rejoining the race against the racing direction after spinning off the track. Hawthorn, who pushed the car himself and did not have assistance, was facing exclusion after bump-starting his engine and letting the Ferrari briefly mount a footpath going in the opposite direction to the circuit, an area not designated as race track. The situation was getting unpleasant, when Moss voluntarily stepped forward in his defence.
At the time nobody could know how crucial this incident was to be, but in any case he would have derived no pleasure from seeing his rival denied points on a technicality. Hawthorn’s second-place finish behind Moss gave him the championship. Because of the scoring system the title went to Hawthorn by one point, despite the fact that he had won only one race to Moss’s four.
Stirling Moss remarked later, “To me, Mike shouldn’t have been disqualified. I just felt that it was quite wrong that he should be disqualified. And I put forward the idea that he was still on the track, albeit the escape road, which they accepted. And it turned out that it lost me the title. But it’s a case of what winning means to you.”
Moss returned the following year to win the Portuguese Grand Prix at the Monsanto Park Circuit in Lisbon.
Stirling Moss always had a keen eye for a lady and after his terrible accident at Goodwood in 1962, he remarked it was the end of his F1 career, as ‘he could no longer keep one eye on the track, another on the gauges and still be able to spot a pretty girl in the crowd’.
A true sportsman, Stirling Craufurd Moss was born in West London on 17th September 1929. He was named after his mother’s place of birth in Scotland and his middle name comes from her maiden name. His mother, Aileen, was a successful horsewoman and a descendant of a prominent Scottish family, the Craufurds, one of whose members, Robert “Black Bob” Craufurd, had been Commander of the Duke of Wellington’s Light Division during the Peninsular War in Portugal in 1810.
Moss won sixteen Formula 1 Grand Prix races in a 14-year career. The current World Champion Lewis Hamilton wrote, “Goodbye to Sir Stirling Moss, the racing legend. I think it’s important that we celebrate his incredible life and the great man he was. Saying goodbye is never easy and can be sad but he will always be here, in our memories and will continue to be a huge part of British motorsport’s heritage. I certainly will miss our conversations. To be honest, it was such an unusual pairing, our friendship. Two people from massively different times and backgrounds but we clicked and ultimately found that the love for racing we both shared made us comrades. I am truly grateful to have had those special moments with him. Sending my prayers and thoughts to his family. May he rest in peace.”