To mark the death of the British Formula One legend earlier this month, we take a look back at his incredible career
The world lost one of its greatest ever sports stars this month when Sir Stirling Moss passed away aged 90. Here, we pay tribute to the motor-racing legend by recalling some of his career highs and lows.
In April, the motor-racing world said goodbye to a legend when Sir Stirling Moss passed away following a long illness. He was 90 years old.
Often referred to as “the greatest driver never to win the F1 World Championship”, the Londoner racked up an impressive catalogue of achievements before his career was prematurely ended in 1962 following a horror crash at Goodwood.
But Moss will also be remembered for the glamour that he brought to the sport off the circuit. As three-time F1 World Champion Jackie Stewart once told BBC Radio 5 Live: “He walked like a racing driver should walk, he talked like a racing driver, he looked like a racing driver, and he set a standard that I think has been unmatched since he retired.”
In honour of the great man, here we look back at his incredible life and career in ten fascinating facts…
1. Birth of an F1 legend
Born in 1929, Moss received his very first car – an Austin 7 – from his father at the tender age of nine. Moss Snr. reportedly opposed his son's subsequent desire to become a motor racer, however, and wanted him to become a dentist.
2. An extraordinary record
Moss's illustrious career saw him finish victorious in 212 of the 529 races he entered across multiple categories. In 1955, he became the first British driver to win the British Grand Prix, securing the crown at Aintree. Although Moss never won a Formula One World Championship, he was runner-up four times and third on three occasions. He held the record as the English driver with the most F1 Grand Prix victories (16) until Nigel Mansell overtook him in 1991.
3. Best of British
Over the course of his career, Moss is reported to have driven no fewer than 84 different makes of car. He made no secret of his love for home-built machines, though, once stating that it was “better to lose honourably in a British car than win in a foreign one”.
4. Ladies' man
Moss spoke openly about his passion for the opposite sex, and once famously boasted that he could keep “one eye on the track, another on the gauges and still...spot a pretty girl in the crowd”. He walked down the aisle three times, tying the knot with his third wife, Lady Susie Moss (pictured), in 1980. They remained married until his death.
5. High-tech home
In 1961, Moss purchased a bomb-damaged plot of land in London's swanky Mayfair district for £5,000. He subsequently spent a reported £25,000 on building a five-storey home and filling it with the latest tech. This included an electro-hydraulic dining table that was able to descend from the kitchen on one floor to the dining room on the floor below, mirrored windows and a carbon-fibre lift built for him by the Williams F1 team. Perhaps unsurprisingly considering his love of gadgets, Moss made a brief cameo appearance in the 1967 James Bond spoof Casino Royale.
6. Recognised by the BBC
Also in 1961, Moss was crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year – the first Formula One driver to be awarded the accolade. He took pole position ahead of boxer Billy Walker and tennis star Angela Mortimer.
7. Horror crash
Moss once said: “With driving a motor car, the danger is a very necessary ingredient. Like if you're cooking, you need salt. You can cook without salt, but it doesn't have the flavour.” However, he almost lost his life after a horror crash at Goodwood on Easter Monday 1962. Incredibly, though he emerged from his mangled Lotus with a crushed cheekbone, a displaced eye socket, broken limbs and deep bruising to his brain, he somehow survived. The accident signalled the end of his career, however, and shortly after his recovery, he retired from professional racing aged just 32.
8. The legend lives on
The F1 icon continued to race competitively long after his retirement from the big time. Indeed, in 2011 he qualified for the Le Mans Legends event at the age of 81 – just months after he'd fallen 30 feet down a lift shaft at his Mayfair home, breaking both his ankles and damaging his vertebrae.
9. A career in TV
In the twilight years of his life, Moss took on a new challenge, narrating the British-made children's animated TV series Roary the Racing Car. “Roary's a great little character,” he told ABC Radio Perth at the time. “I've never done anything like this, other than the voiceover for commercials, and I've found it quite exciting. It's been terrific fun and my grandchildren love it.”
10. Sir Stirling Moss: 1929-2020
Moss died at his home in Mayfair on 12 April, four years after suffering a serious chest infection while on holiday in Singapore – an illness that left him hospitalised for 134 days. He is survived by his wife Susie and two children. Susie, who was by his side at the time of his passing, later reported that her husband had died peacefully. "It was one lap too many,” she said. “He died as he lived – looking wonderful.”