SI Vault
 
SUBJECT: STIRLING MOSS
Paul Deutschman
November 14, 1955
At 26 Stirling Moss is one of the world's great racing drivers. He is president of his own firm, waxes poetic when he thinks of the "exhilaration of acceleration" and uses phrases such as "Oh, cracky!"
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
November 14, 1955

Subject: Stirling Moss

At 26 Stirling Moss is one of the world's great racing drivers. He is president of his own firm, waxes poetic when he thinks of the "exhilaration of acceleration" and uses phrases such as "Oh, cracky!"

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5

Moss looked at his watch and jumped to his feet. "Look, old boy, I'm going to try out a Mercedes 300SL—it's the first to arrive in London. Would you like to ride along with me?"

Moss's car, parked on the street outside, seemed rather an incongruously average one for an international racing star to be driving. "It's a Standard Eight, with a Ten engine," he explained. "I use it to run around town. I've also got a 220 Mercedes, for trips."

He careened off down the Strand, through clusters of Austins, Humbers, Bentleys and other Standards, driving with expected expertness—but also, great impatience, as if the car were part of himself and he wanted no interference, mechanical or otherwise.

He swung wide and fast around onto Waterloo Bridge, and a bobby gestured warningly at him.

"I guess he doesn't know who's driving," said his passenger.

"It doesn't matter—in London. British police just couldn't care less who you are. I've had my share of summonses. It's not like on the Continent or Argentina, where a racing driver's like a movie star. In Buenos Aires, the police expect you to drive in traffic like you were in a Grand Prix; small boys and bobby-soxers come up and kiss you; and taxi drivers challenge you to race down the main streets!"

The 300SL was waiting in a small suburban garage. "Pretty thing, isn't she?" he said, patting the low, gray coupe, like some steeplechaser feeling the flank of a Thoroughbred horse.

The doors flipped upwards, like a pair of butterfly wings; and, in a moment, the car was blasting along gray, factory-lined roads that resembled the outskirts of Chicago. "I don't know what idea you can get of my racing style—but you'll notice, I sit fairly far back in the seat, with my head back and my arms straight out. I model myself after Farina's style. When I race, I always dress in white, because I think a racing driver should look as smart as any player at Wimbledon; white leather boxing boots, white nylon coveralls and nylon socks."

He stopped for a red light, then rocketed off with great but frightening dexterity, leaving lesser mortals in their lesser cars plodding far off in his exhaust. "You know, most people think races are won by speed alone. But actually, you win them by your mastery of driving around bends and corners. As far as I'm concerned, the straight's only a road connecting two corners.

"The trick is to start round a corner using as little power as possible, so you'll be able to have more horsepower available coming out. Like this." He moved his hands and feet very quickly and the car began swaying out along a wide, wide arc, mounting up speed as it swept sharply around an intersection—and just skimming around an unsuspecting Hillman that, until a moment before, had been far ahead.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5