In praise of Sir Stirling Moss
A CASUAL REMARK from motor sport historian Doug Nye, chatting about this month’s cover feature: ‘Hey, he is Sir Stirling Moss OBE – and he was in his era Mr Motor Racing. His impact and stature during the 1950s/early ’60s was literally Hamilton/Schumacher/Vettel/Senna all rolled into one… with knobs on… and added walnuts… This tends to be forgotten too readily today. He invented the charismatic Formula 1 standard-setting driver as a truly marketable public figure.’
Did we need to be reminded of this? I’d like to think we didn’t, because we’re all great fans of Stirling here at Octane, which is why he’s on the cover. Perhaps it helps that our team is significantly more experienced (OK, older) than your typical magazine team – most of us are in our 40s and 50s, while Tony Dron insists he’s simply ‘ancient’.
Maybe Doug does have a point though. We’re all so used to the cult of celebrity nowadays; the bombardment of social media, the selfies, the instant newsfeeds. But when Stirling crashed at Goodwood in 1962, the BBC interrupted its programmes to announce the incident, and huge crowds gathered outside the hospital while he lay unconscious. Such reactions were almost unheard of then for anyone other than royalty – Stirling was a huge star, the like of which might never be seen in motor racing again.
Our feature is as much about the Jaguar C-type – and a particularly special C-type, at that – as it is about Sir Stirling, but what a privilege it was to talk to him about his experiences. The greatest racing driver of all time? Possibly. The best-known? That goes without saying. And the C-type was one of his favourite cars.