In praise of Sir Stir­ling Moss

Octane - - THIS MONTH - David Lil­ly­white Ed­i­tor

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.

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