Sir Stirling Moss Has Passed

Stirling Moss R.I.P.

Last of the Gentlemen Racers

Sir Stirling Moss, sometime Jaguar driver and all-round good sport, died on Easter Sunday, aged 90. He was a survivor from the age of Gentlemen Drivers when many were lost to accident and injury but there was a camaraderie rare in today’s hyper-professional world of motor sport.

Can you imagine Michael Schumacher winning a grand prix and then going to the race stewards afterwards to ensure that his nearest rival Damon Hill was not disqualified on a technicality, thereby losing the championship? No, he did the opposite and forced him off the track in order to take them both out and win the championship by foul means.  Can you imagine even the pleasant Sebastian  Vettel ensuring fair treatment for Lewis Hamilton, and thereby losing the championship by a single point? No. Yet that’s exactly what happened between Sir Stirling Moss and Mike Hawthorn at the Portuguese GP in 1958.

On a damp street circuit, complete with cobbled sections and slick tram lines, Hawthorn briefly stopped with plug trouble and was due to be disqualified after a spectator reported him for turning against the flow of traffic during his restart. Stirling, who won, went to the stewards and pointed out that the pavement used by Hawthorn was technically not part of the Oporto track and therefore not governed by circuit rules and Hawthorn ought not to be disqualified for using it to restart his car, The stewards took Moss’ objection on board, restored Hawthorn’s six points for second place, plus one extra point for fastest lap, thereby gifting him  the championship by a single point over Moss, to become Britain’s first Formula 1 world champion.

Moss retired in 1961 following a heavy crash and head injury at Goodwood, but was a household name in the UK. Many a speeding motorist was ticketed after being asked “Who do you think you are… Stirling Moss?” Doubtless he and Jaguar contemporary Norman Dewis will resume their close friendship in heaven, racing between clouds and scaring sleeping angels.

Peter Crespin, Jaguar Journal Editor

Photo - Terry Larson

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