Sir Stirling Moss: Still Stirling stuff

He retired from racing in 1962, but the veteran driver is on full throttle. Sean O'Grady hangs on tight

I was surprised to find that Sir Stirling Moss, a living national treasure, has something in common with a mere mortal like me: "I much prefer having a small car and driving the arse off it."

Which he then proceeded to do, with me as passenger, in a Smart ForTwo. We took it round the handling track at Mercedes-Benz World, at the old Brooklands circuit in Surrey. He pushed it, but Smart stayed out of trouble. He hasn't lost his touch.

Stirling had come to pick up a new Mark 2 Smart for himself and Lady Moss: "The understeer's almost gone, the steering's jolly nice and it's great improvement – but when they make a manual, that'll be fun." I'm not sure, however, that Smart will abandon its idiosyncratic semi-automatic gearchange. We emerged from the Smart with a whiff of warm rubber in the air.

For me, it was more disconcerting to meet someone who retired in the year I was born. Stirling, now a sprightly 78 years of age, last raced in 1962, retiring after a nasty accident cut his career short at 32.

Competitively, that is. He keeps himself busy on the historic rallying scene. A few years ago, for example, he relived his 1955 win in the Italian Mille Miglia endurance race in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR.

"I'm the only old fart who does it. It keeps me young and it keeps me happy".

He's charming and unselfconscious, and probably the last public figure to use the magnificently 1950s term "crumpet". He has a genuine fondness for Lewis Hamilton – "Lewis stands out because he dresses nicely and looks the part" (just like Stirling!), though he disapproves of Hamilton going to Switzerland.

He also thinks the problems with Alonso would have been better if the latter had accepted a formal number two status, just as he did with the great Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1950s. Then the chances of finishing your career alive were below 50 per cent and "I never drove a car with an advert on it."

Stirling hasn't lost what he calls "the bravado of youth". So if you're a copper who sees a Smart with that distinctive number plate being driven briskly round London, you too can say: "Who do you think you are, Stirling Moss?"

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

    Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

    Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

    salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

    Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower