Tags: Celebrities. Actors. Famous People. Stirling Moss
Widely described as the greatest Formula 1 racing driver of all time, Stirling Moss, in spite of winning 212 races, 16 of them being Grands Prix and being the 1st ever British F1 driver to win his home race, Stirling never wins the World Championship. I have often wondered why. It certainly is not his driving ability.
But Mossie, as I always call him, is a difficult, dominant man, who must always have his own way, and maybe his personality is partly responsible. One of his greatest victories is the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix, where he wins in a Lotus against the much faster Ferraris, as well as setting a new track record in the famous 1,000 miles 1955 Mille Miglia race, right around Italy. Being very much interested in F1 racing, I attempt all the official channels to gain an interview with Moss on my arrival in London in 1968.
No luck! So it’s five years later when I finally get his private phone number in London’s Mayfair. I not only introduce myself on the phone but make a daring suggestion, with which, surprisingly, he is delighted: A 3-day interview weekend attending the 1973 NUERBURGRING GERMAN GRAND PRIX.
Quite a surprise, as I have never met the man and know he dislikes journalists! When I ask him later why he agreed so quickly, he simply states, “I liked your super-sounding voice on the phone.” So far so good! Or maybe he thinks we are going to have a romantic weekend?? But then everybody forewarns me not to let him drive my car, as apparently, the F1 icon is not the perfect driver on mortals’ roads, allegedly having been involved in some accidents.
Mossie begins our weekend date in typical fashion when I arrive one minute before our agreed 5.45 am meeting time. There he stands, tapping his foot on the step outside his Mayfair home. He hates wasting time, opens the boot with one hand, tosses his luggage in with the other and greets me with the third, (He has a third – I’ll swear it!) He pales a little when I insist on driving my own car. So I hastily grab the driver’s seat, wave him into the one beside me and smile, hopefully in a very firm manner.
“I hereby appoint you navigator for the trip, Mossie!” He does not favour nick-names, but grins at that and keeps grinning, no doubt having decided how quickly to remove me from the steering wheel. I immediately discover he is the worst back seat driver ever, so constant and irritating, that between London and the Dover Hovercraft to take us across the Channel, I already vacate the driver’s seat.
But to his credit, during the 12 years I own my 280 SL Mercedes sports car, before bringing it back to Australia with me in 1980, no one ever achieves the low fuel consumption the 43-year-old Mossie masters on this trip. After all sorts of confrontations including officials at the dock and Mossie being convinced we are going to be left behind at the port, and then in Calais, a restaurant that he considers is overcharging…. Very hungry on our two hours drive to Germany we finally find a little snack-bar for lunch.
It’s 11 years since Mossie’s retirement from racing, but I get a perfect glimpse of how a true star never fades. He is immediately recognised by the owner who proudly announces his discovery, and the autograph hunters pounce, bubbling all sorts of German phrases Mossie doesn’t understand. Having, at last, arrived at Nuerburg, I’m thrilled to hear Jackie Stewart is scheduled in pole position for tomorrow’s race, as I like him very much, (you may remember the photo in my Keith Williams piece where Jackie was my observer when Keith took me water skiing).
At last, Mossie relaxes and the blissful look on his face now reminds me of something Jackie once said about taking a fast bend being like an orgasm. So I raise the point. “I wouldn’t say it was a sexual thrill, Mossie replies, “but related to sex. The exhilaration, the satisfaction and the pleasure that one gets from flirting and having a relationship with a woman, is one of the few things that are as satisfying as going around a corner at the very limit. “A motor race is a multiple climax, all the time, every corner, and therefore it’s on a lower plane than an orgasm, but equally satisfying.
“I think women are like cars in this way: how far you can push a woman depends on how expert you are in handling her, and how well you know her. “In the same way, if you get into a car that you don’t know, and you don’t have the expertise that particular car demands, you’ll get into a corner and oversteer. And wham! You’re in trouble. “If you know the car well and you understand the ‘feeling’ and the balance, you can take slight liberties and get away with it.
“Women and cars are the same if you treat them well. It all depends on how compatible you are with each individual one of them. One woman will come alive with one guy and be quite dowdy with another. Some women can definitely bring out the best in a man. And so can some cars.” I know Mossie and I will be friends, but nothing more. So just in case, he might consider me a possibility as the “some women,” from above, I let him know immediately that I not only have a boyfriend but a young baby as well. And for our whole weekend, Mossie is the perfect gentleman.
(DAYS TWO and THREE to be continued in the Bribie Islander Issue 88)