It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of Sir Stirling Moss earlier this week.
Les Needham, our President wrote –
The Moss family have been connected with the Harrow Car Club since its very early days, Stirling’s parents, Alfred and Aileen Moss, both experienced competitors, joined in 1935, Stirling joined in 1946 and subsequently Pat also joined, starting her motor sporting career with the club. Stirling became our Patron in 1981/2 and regularly used to attend our annual Dinners and Prizegiving when they were formal occasions
Stirling’s first competitive event was with the club, the Cullen Cup Trial in 1947, which he proceeded to win, driving his Frazer Nash BMW 328, with his Mother as “bouncing” passenger. He started racing in a 500cc Kieft in the then Formula Three, and I remember watching him at the old Brands Hatch (just a simple kidney shape, driven anti-clockwise) entering the bottom of Paddock Hill, lap after lap on exactly the same line, inches from the curb. He rapidly progressed to more powerful cars. Stirling was an all – round competitor, at race meetings in addition to the main race, he would regularly be seen in all types of car in the supporting races.
He was also successful as a rally competitor, taking part in the Monte Carlo Rally and the Alpine Rally. In the latter, driving a Sunbeam Talbot, he was one of only three competitors ever to be awarded a Coupe d’Or, a gold cup awarded to any competitor who competed the event unpenalized on three successive occasions, ( the others were Ian Appleyard, Jaguar, and Jean Vinatier, Alpine). He also competed for Jaguar at Le Mans, and in 1953 I accompanied Joe Coyne, at that time our President to Sarthe. Joe was very friendly with Stirling, and we had the privilege of being driven round the circuit in a Jaguar (saloon unfortunately) by Stirling who explained the lines through the various corners. Half way round we stopped and sat on the grass eating strawberries! Later, when Stirling was part of the Mercedes team, he famously won the Mille Miglia in 1955, with Dennis Jenkinson, his passenger using an early form of pace notes and a system of hand signals to advise of corners etc. In the days before marshals got to be as efficient as they are now, Stirling explained that when he came up to a corner and he could only see the backs of spectators heads, he knew they were looking the other way and something had happened round the bend. He was known to wave to a pretty popsy ( his words) as he went round the track.
Although he never won the World F1 Championship, his was the name on the lips of everyone and a regular quip by the constable who pulled you up for speeding was, “Who do you think you are, Stirling Moss?”.
Stirling – a legend, a racer and a gentleman – R.I.P.