Tuesday, April 14, 2020

MORE ON MOSS by John Crawford

Stirling drove an amazing variety of cars during his long racing career - the statistics on the number of different brands, plus his wins, and the variety of racing he competed in are mind-boggling by today's standards - where drivers 'specialise' in one just category - F1, sports cars, rallying. Moss tried them all, and often said: "The distance between courage and stupidity was a very fine line."

Photo - Archive Maserati

Stirling always said he was 'a racer' not 'a driver' and he drove flat out every time he competed. Many times the cars failed him, but he would scornfully say to the team owner/manager "It's not my fault if the cars you provide can't take the pace needed to win."

Photo - Archive Mercedes-Benz
His victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia is for me classic Moss, and no-one has ever beaten his record for the average speed during the 1000km - 99.9mph!

My company Jaguar Rover Australia brought Stirling Down Under many times between 1985 and 1989 to treat Jaguar owners and potential buyers to a few laps at high speed around a variety of circuits as a promotion to sell more cars.

His performances flabbergasted the passengers, noting his calm, smooth approach to pushing a production sedan car hard enough to impress, but not make the Avons squeal.

Stirling, my wonderful PA Joan Tough and James Hunt
Off the track during those promo tours he would always support my efforts by willingly turning up to host cocktail parties with owners, buyers and the media.

A Jaguar customer asked him once: "What's the most fun thing about racing?" to which Stirling replied: "Chasing the crumpet."

Stirling always considered his win in the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix his greatest F1 victory, driving a Lotus-Climax which was underpowered compared to the Ferraris, but he won the day by sheer skill and determination.

Monaco 1961, Moss is running third, his friend Phil Hill leading in a Ferrari

Mates forever

In 1988 at the Australian F1 Grand Prix in Adelaide I finally asked him why he retired from mainstream racing, and he said: "You know old boy, I tried to rekindle my skills, but at that point I realised I could see my horizon of fear. That being the case, it was time to stop."

John Crawford

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