Coachlines - June 2024

28.06.24 Liveryman John Fuggles

A tribute to Sir Stirling Moss OBE

In a world where motorsport is all about records, it is often easy to overlook some of the best talent because they achieved so much without ticking off record after record. Of all these, Sir Stirling Moss OBE was perhaps the standout name that eclipsed them all. Sixteen F1 wins from 66 starts puts Sir Stirling in the top 10 F1 drivers of all time, second in the world championship four times, and third three times, also missing out the championship by a single point.

At Goodwood in 1962 Moss crashed his car, was in a coma for a month, was paralysed down one side and took six months to recover. Despite claims of retirement that never came, Moss was, as he is known to say, always “a racer”. He objected to the title racing driver, as he felt anyone could drive, but only some could race.

Moss’s career was astounding. He would race anything and everything, he scored some notable and amazing victories in his long career but, above all, he just wanted to race. In 1955 he took part and won the 1,000-mile Mille Miglia in a Mercedes-Benz with an average speed of 99mph, beating Fangio by more than half an hour, in an identical car.

I first met Stirling when he was queuing at Le Mans to go on circuit. Sitting in his car, dosed with painkillers and ready to race, he was easy to talk to with no care or thought of what he was there to do, he was just happy to chat to a fellow enthusiast. I was fortunate to meet him several times on other occasions and always found him to be the same. He really was a perfect English gentleman, a little quiet, perhaps shy, and genuinely quite surprised by the amount of attention he got, he just loved what he did.

So it should perhaps come as no surprise that Westminster Abbey should hold a memorial service to the ever great Sir Stirling Craufurd Moss OBE. Although he passed away in 2020 it wasn’t until 8th May 2024 that Westminster Abbey held an event to celebrate the life of one of the greatest racers of all time. The service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, with speeches from the Duke of Richmond, Sir Jackie Stewart and others, and HRH Prince Michael of Kent was in attendance to represent HM The King. Many more people from the world of motorsport made their way to the event, it would take too long to list them all.

It really was a remarkable event. The Abbey was packed and on display was his helmet, hung up for the final time. Outside, the apron to the Abbey was adorned with cars of a not-forgotten era that was Moss’s place of work, and car 722 took pride of place of course.

It was an event of sombre memory for such an amazing man. Stories from his past reflected on the man he was not the racer within. Perhaps that is what makes Moss stand out, not because people remember him as someone who almost-made-it, but rather as a racers’ racer, a gentleman, and someone who would engage anyone in conversation, as long as it was about racing!

Sir Stirling Moss was a unique talent, not just for his racing, who will be missed by those who knew him. The sport of motor racing will continue but there will never be another Stirling Moss.