Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Stirling Moss Speaks

Known as the “Best driver to never WIN the World Championship,” Stirling Moss was previously a guest on Wind Tunnel. And I found this to be a superb interview, as Moss’s resume read’s like a “Who’s Who” of Motorsports, finishing runner-up in Grand Prix four times, winning nearly 40% of events entered and driving 84 different marques over a 14 year Open Wheel and Sports Car career.

Sir Stirling was speaking from Amelia Island where he was part of the entourage taking part in the Concours de Elegance. The “Hit Parade” included such luminaries as John Surtees, John Fitch, Vic Elford, Brian Redman, Herschel McGriff and legendary mouth piece Chris Economacki…

Dave Despain’s first question was in regards to how large were the stories ‘O yesteryear? Moss replied, “Which One?” Despain rephrased by saying he’s noticed that when a bunch of past drivers get together and reminisce the stories tend to get a wee bit embellished.

Moss replied saying that there was always plenty ‘O lore to be had, but it was a different time back then as I NEVER wore a seat belt!

But I must tell you a story about the “Econo-Meister” as I was there. I believe it was the 24 Hours of Daytona and in those days we had to run across the track at the start of the race. And as they dropped the green flag Chris was still standing there interviewing me… As I said, excuse me but I have to dash off!

Despain noted that Stirling’s backdrop was the all conquering Mercedes Benz W196 which won the 1955 Mille Millia, Targa Florio and the Tourist Trophy. Despain asked what was so special about that “Golden Era” of motor racing.

Moss commented that in those days the atmosphere was much friendlier, I suppose like your RASSCAR is today. And it was also much more dangerous as I raced in short sleeves, no seat belt, etc. And there was something special about racing upon the open roads which were sometimes closed off, sometimes not! Yet we didn’t hang about as I believe I finished the 1,000 kilometers in 10 hours, 4 minutes traveling at 179-180mph…

Despain noted how the 1955 24 Heurs du Mans was also probably the “Blackest Day” in racing. While Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio were leading the race, their sister car collided with a back marker, careened into the grandstands and killed 80 spectators. Moss was very diplomatic about the incident explaining how it was nobody’s fault. And although it led to Mercedes Benz withdrawing from competition and Switzerland banning racing, the sport did manage to live on…

To continue reading, see: Stirling Moss Speaks (Part 2)