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Chris Roush

Volume 45 Issue 09

Apr 25, 2020

  The Ferrari Market Letter is saddened by the news. Founder Gerald Roush admired Sir Stirling Moss so much he christened his son with the middle name Stirling to honor him.

    Stirling Moss passed away on April 12, 2020, after a long illness. Moss was 90 years of age.

    He is survived by his wife, Lady Susie; son, Elliot; daughter, Allison Bradley; and several grandchildren. His sister, Pat Moss Carlsson passed away in 2008.

    The Ferrari Market Letter is saddened by the news. Founder Gerald Roush admired Sir Stirling Moss so much he christened his son with the middle name Stirling to honor him.

    It would be difficult to recount Moss’s achievements any better than Christopher Stirling Roush did in the March 5, 2011, issue of the FML. That article is reprinted here.                                          ed.


    Stirling Moss, who raced from 1948 to 1962, is considered one of the greatest race car drivers of all time, having one more than 40 percent of the races that he entered.

    His name, however, is not associated with Ferrari the way other legends -- Juan Manuel Fangio, Alberto Ascari, Phil Hill, Niki Lauda and Michael Schumacher -- are due to their championships while driving for the Scuderia. That’s despite the fact that Moss drove six different Ferraris during his career.

    Moss is virtually ignored when discussing Ferrari’s racing history because he never was one of the Scuderia’s Formula One drivers. His Formula One career was spent driving primarily for Mercedes-Benz when it had a team, and then Maserati, Vanwall, Lotus and Cooper.

    It was a disagreement between Enzo Ferrari and Stirling Moss in 1951 that led the Englishmen to eschew driving for the tempestuous Italian during his Formula One career. That snub led to Moss becoming Ferrari’s biggest tormentor for many seasons during the late 1950s.

    So it’s interesting to check out the relationship between the man who won more races -- grand prix, sport and GT combined -- than anyone else in the 1950s and 1960s and the most-famous race car builder of the same time period.

    First, some background. Moss drove more than 80 different cars during his 14-year career. While he never was a Formula One season champion, he finished second four times, including losing in 1958 to Ferrari’s Mike Hawthorn by a point even though Moss won four races that year to Hawthorn’s one.

    His first race was in 1948, when he was 18. His first Formula One race was in 1951.

    Out of 66 Formula One races, he won 16 times and had 24 podium finishes. (The only contemporary with more Formula One wins is Fangio, with 24.) His first Grand Prix win was the 1955 British Grand Prix, and his last was the 1961 German Grand Prix.

    He entered a total of 529 races and won 212 of those. His first win was on April 7, 1948, in a Cooper JAP 500cc at the Brough Aerodrome in England. His last win was on Feb. 4, 1962, a 100-mile event at Watkins Farm in a Cooper-Climax 2700cc.

    He retired in 1962 after a near-fatal accident at Glenwood. But since that time, he has appeared regularly at historic car events. Now 81, he plans to race a Porsche RS 61 with Ian Nuthall at the 2011 Le Mans support race being run by Motor Racing Legends.

    Moss and Ferrari first ran into each other in 1951, when the manufacturer asked the Englishman to race for him at Bari, an Italian city on the Adriatic coast, in September. After racing in Switzerland, Moss took a detour to Modena to meet with Enzo to discuss driving for him, and the Italian offered Moss a chance to drive in a new 4-cylnder, 2 ½-liter car if it was ready in time. (The two spoke using broken French, their only common language.)

    As it was, Ferrari offered the 21-year-old Moss a spot in the Italian Grand Prix on Sept. 16. This was during a time when drivers swapped in and out of cars frequently, so the fact that Enzo offered Moss a spot in a grand prix race is not unusual. Ferrari, for example, used 10 different drivers during the 1955 season.

    When Moss arrived with his father at the garage in Bari, however, a mechanic informed him that he had been pulled from the car in favor of Piero Taruffi. Moss scrambled to find another drive, and ironically landed a Ferrari -- a 166 that had been outfitted for Formula Two racing with a 2-liter, V12 engine. However, Moss crashed during practice when the brakes failed. Taruffi finished third in the car that Moss thought he would be driving.

    In his book “My Cars, My Career,” Moss remembered the race well. “I did not forget, and I would not forgive,” he wrote. “And because of that it would always give me great pleasure to beat those red cars -- Grand Prix, sports and GT alike.”

    Indeed, Moss bested Ferrari many times during the next few years. At the 1955 Belgian Grand Prix, while driving for Mercedes, Moss finished second behind Fangio, while the Ferraris of Nino Farina and Paul Frere were third and fourth. Later that year, during his first grand prix win at the Aintree circuit in Liverpool, the best Ferrari finish was a sixth-place result by Mike Hawthorn and Eugenio Castellotti.

    And in 1956, when Fangio dominated the season while driving for Ferrari, Moss handed him a rare defeat at Monaco while driving a Maserati. Ferrari won five of the eight races that season, with two of the defeats at the hands of Moss, who also won at Monza.

    It would be six years after the Bari debacle before Moss sat in a Ferrari. In December 1957, he was set to drive an Aston Martin DBR2 during the Bahamas Speed Week events, but had loaned it to an American female driver, Ruth Levy, who rolled it during her race. Jan de Vroom allowed Moss to borrow his 290S, and Moss easily won both the 100-mile and the 250-mile races.

    Two months later, Moss found himself behind the seat of another Ferrari, this time for Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team in Cuba. Fangio was kidnapped before the race by Castro’s rebels, but in a show of sportsmanship, the Argentine told the rebels to leave Moss alone because he was there with his wife, Katie. Driving a 335S, Moss slipped by Masten Gregory’s Ferrari on the last lap of a five-lap race that was red-flagged due to an accident that killed five spectators.

    Ever gracious, Moss suggested he and Gregory pool their winnings and split them 50-50. Moss and his wife caught a plane to Miami that night to avoid more kidnappers, and Fangio was released to the Argentine embassy the next day.

    The 1958 Formula One season saw Moss and Hawthorn battle all season long, with Moss in his Vanwall and Hawthorn in a Ferrari Dino 246. (It should be noted that Moss actually drove a Cooper T43 in the first race of the season, the Argentine Grand Prix, which he won after starting from the seventh spot on the grid, before switching to Vanwall.) Moss also won the Dutch, Portuguese and Moroccan grand prixes, but his retirements at Monza, Nürburgring, Silverstone and Monaco allowed Hawthorn to take the championship. Hawthorn’s second-place finish behind Moss at Monaco ensured his one-point victory.

    During the 1959 season, Moss switched to Cooper-Climax after Vanwall withdrew from Formula One, and going into the last race, the U.S. Grand Prix at Sebring, Fla., Ferrari’s Tony Brooks, Cooper’s Jack Brabham and Moss all had a chance at the title. But Moss retired after leading the first five laps due to a broken gearbox, and Brabham won the title despite finishing fourth in the race and having to push his car across the finish line on the last lap because he had run out of gas.

    The next year saw Moss behind the wheel of another Ferrari, this time a 250 GT SWB Berlinetta, S/N 2119, which was owned by Rob Walker and Dick Wilkins. He won seven of eight races while driving a 250 GT SWB during the 1960 and 1961 seasons, including his fourth consecutive victory at Goodwood.

    During the 1961 Le Mans, while driving S/N 2735, another 250 GT SWB, with Graham Hill, the pair were leading the GT group by miles when the car lost all of its water in the 10th hour because NART had forgotten to remove its road-going fan, and one of the blades broke off and slashed a radiator hose. It would be the last time Moss would drive in the endurance race.

    In February 1962, shortly before the accident that ended his career, Moss drove a 250 GT Berlinetta Speciale, S/N 2643 GT, which was a forerunner of the 250 GTO, at the three-hour Daytona Continental. He won the GT class, but the highlight was how Moss started the event.

    TV commentator Chris Economaki was interviewing Moss on camera when the Englishman saw his competitors running to their vehicles. It was a Le Mans-type start where the drivers had to run to their autos! The interview ended with the gentlemanly Moss shouting, “Sorry, must go now” and running off camera.

    Moss and Enzo Ferrari mended their relationship, in late 1961, eating dinner at the restaurant across the street from the Maranello headquarters. Moss had beaten Ferraris -- which won five of the other six races during the season -- at Monaco and Nürburgring in 1961, and he had won two consecutive Goodwood races driving a GT Ferrari. Moss, however, wanted to continue racing for Walker, so they struck a deal: Ferrari would supply the cars, but they would be painted in Walker’s traditional blue color.

    The first race after the deal was announced was the 12 Hours of Sebring in March 1962, where he drove a 250 Testa Rossa, S/N 0794, with Innes Ireland. Hopes were high for the duo, as the car had won Le Mans the previous year. However, the car was disqualified because Ireland brought it into the pits for fresh brake pads before covering the required 20 laps. Again, NART was to blame, as it wasn’t keeping a lap chart for the eight cars it had entered in the race! The car was leading at the halfway point before being black-flagged.

    Ironically, the race would be the last for Moss in his endurance career. Moss crashed at Goodwood the next month. He was comatose for a month and paralyzed on the left side for six months. He would never race competitively again, and the racing community lost out on seeing a Formula One Ferrari painted blue. By the time he had fully recovered, Moss had business interests to keep him busy.

    In all, Moss raced 13 times in a Ferrari. Once, he was disqualified. Another time, at Le Mans, he retired when the fan blade broke off. He won the other races.

    We are only left to speculate what would have happened if Moss had been behind a Ferrari on a regular basis through the rest of the early and mid 1960s GT races, as well as in Formula One. Ferrari won the over 2000cc class of the FIA’s International Championship for GT manufacturers in 1962, 1963 and 1964. While Ford and Porsche came to dominate the GT races after that, Ferrari would win only irregularly after that.

    Ferrari’s decline in GT and sports car racing in the late 1960s may have not been as steep or a sudden with Moss, the ultimate race car driver, behind the wheel. Enzo Ferrari once said privately that failing to sign Moss cost his teams many victories throughout the years, and Ferrari wrote in his 1979 autobiography that he considered Tazio Nuvolari and Moss to be the greatest drivers ever.

    Moss, said Ferrari, was slightly better than Nuvolari.


    Gerald Roush, the founder and publisher of the Ferrari Market Letter until his death in May 2010, had a fascination with Stirling Moss. He named his only son after Moss, and he also owned the 1954 Leonard-MG that Moss once raced. Moss finished third in his heat at the 1954 British Empire Trophy handicap racing the car, but retired in the final. Roush ran into Moss at various car events, and once found him sitting at a bar in an Italian village during a break from the 1986 Mille Miglia


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