Post 1945 Drivers
GB retired 1962
Still drives cars at selected events such as Goodwood Festival of Speed
ROARING down a straight in the Cuban Grand Prix, Moss beat his hand on the side of his Ferrari. The thin skin thumped much as earlier ones used to under the fist of Tazio Nuvolari. Yet there was a difference. Nuvolari whipped his brilliant red machines out of sheer joy. Moss thumped his blue car on a business matter: He wanted to attract the attention of another driver.
The driver turned his head. Moss stood on the brake pedal, pulled alongside and unleashed a torrent of words, all unprintable. "If you can't drive it, park it," was the gist.
This was not typical. Moss very seldom blows up. But when the Havana race was over, he was still shaking his head. "Why, he was weaving all over the course! He's the kind of guy that makes this business dangerous."
One of Moss's many firm opinions is that his business should not be made any more dangerous than necessary. Better in sports cars than Grand Prix cars, he still prefers Grand Prix. "There are only 15 or so GP drivers, and you know they won't do anything foolish."
The heir-apparent to Juan Manuel Fangio's crown is the purest professional in the sport - he owns no vineyards, car dealerships or oil wells. Moss earns his living driving race cars. He has a keen interest in his working conditions.
He wants courses to be as safe as possible. This doesn't mean slow-his favorite course, Nurburg Ring, is among the fastest. And he has scant interest in airport racing ("It's like playing tennis on a small table").
Most drivers fear oil on the course above all else. With this Moss agrees, but he quickly couples it with "the other baboons on the course." He considers dodging poor drivers an unnecessary hazard.
In a sport well fringed with playboys and thrill seekers, the short, balding Briton lives the life of an athlete. He smokes only occasionally and, though fond of people and night life, he drinks not at all.
Moss is an inveterate tinkerer who loves to work with his hands. He is fond of fooling with the machinery he races. But not much more so than repairing the chronically ill headlight on his motor scooter or building a kitchen cabinet in his new Nassau home.
Gear ratios and fuel mixtures are not a part of his nor~ mal conversation. His main concern is that his car have three pedals (accelerator on the right), a wheel that turns fairly easily and a seat back that isn't too nearly vertical. Nor does he fret and fume about his mounts. He prefers to drive the best car available. But in Buenos Aires he and Joakim Bonnier, one of his dozen or so close friends, drove a Porsche because they wanted to race and it was the only car available.
Moss has driven borrowed cars to victory at Nassau the past two years, most recently the first Ferrari sports car he had ever driven. Those pretty nylon driving suits leave him cold. His favorite article of clothing, on the job or not, is a short sleeved cotton polo shirt. His attitude on family cars would probably get him thrown out of a local sports car club. The showrooms at which he and his wife, Katie, crane their necks are mostly filled with Detroit products."These people ask me what I prefer to drive around town," Moss smiles, "and it seems to shock them when I say a Chevy with automatic shift. Look, I drive 20,000 miles a year shifting gears. That's quite enough."
Why does Moss drive racing cars?
Because his father, Alfred, was a race driver. Because Stirling, who insists he "never relaxes," finds himself best suited to racing's quick, varied demands. And most important, because he loves his work.
Moss has been in this line of work since, when he was seven, his father sat him behind the wheel of a car. At ten, he owned a Baby Austin.
He made a stab at dental school, hotel administration and one of his family's pedigreed pig farms. ("It was horrible. I had to get up at 6 A.M. when the only warm thing was a cow's udder.")
But almost since his first race in a Cooper, racing has been the only work he enjoys. His principal ambition is hardly surprising: "To win the world championship in a British car."
Along with his father, Moss credits Fangio and Dr. Guiseppe Farina with playing major parts in his racing career. Also important is Katie. "She's calmed me down. And she's a good racing wife. She worries, but she doesn't worry me with her worrying."
Dr. Farina was the pattern for Moss's straight-armed driving style, a posture as distinctive as the springy, bow legged walk which gives him the appearance of a boxer.
Fangio "rescued" Moss. "When I started out I guess I was pretty wild," he concedes. "You might say I spent as much time in 'blood wagons' as race cars."
Then Fangio began his rise to the summit. Moss watched, usually from the rear. He learned that "a driver should not go as fast as he can. The objective is to win at the slowest possible speed. "And the last thing you need is courage. I get as frightened as the next bloke."
Moss may be running scared; but he's running mighty well. For the past three years he has been as clearly No.2 as Fangio has been No. 1. And while Fangio, 46, has been getting older, Moss, 27, has been getting better.
Fangio, notoriously cagey about his driving plans, has said he will not try for a sixth crown this year. Whether he tries or not, many believe it will be worn by a straight-armed businessman named Stirling Moss.
Born September 17 1929; London.
Formula One career 1951-62.
Grands prix 66. Wins 16.