Childhood & Early Life
Moss was born on September 17, 1929, in London, U.K., to Jewish parents Aileen Moss (nee Craufurd) and Alfred.
His parents were amateur motorsport racers. His younger sister, Patricia Ann Moss- Carlsson, grew up to be a highly successful rallyist.
At the age of 9, his father gifted him his first car, an ‘Austin 7.’ He drove it around the fields near his house.
He was educated at the 'Shrewsbury House School,' the 'Clewer Manor Junior School,' and the 'Haileybury and Imperial Service College.' However, he was not interested in studies and mostly fared poorly in academics.
He earned his driving license at 15 and soon bought a car.
At ‘Haileybury,’ he did not allow himself to be a victim of the anti-Semitic bullying that was prevalent back then. He did not talk about the bullies to his parents. Instead, he overcame the ordeal by motivating himself to emerge as a stronger person.
He was an excellent horse rider and won at various horse-riding competitions. He used the proceeds from these victories to fund his first racing car.
Continue Reading Below
Moss started his racing career by driving his father's car, a ‘328 BMW, DPX 653.’
He became one of the earliest clients of the 'Cooper Car Company' and bought a ‘Cooper 500’ racing car in 1948.
Before winning the 'RAC Tourist Trophy' (his first major international race) on September 16, 1950, he had won many lesser-known national and international competitions and had also raced in ‘Formula Three.’ The same year, at the 'Autodrome de Montlhery,' Moss, along with Leslie Johnson, drove a 'Jaguar XK120' at an average speed of 107.46 mph, making it the first production car to average over 100 mph.
The following year, he again won the 'RAC Tourist Trophy,' in a 'Jaguar C-Type.'
He ranked second at the 1952 'Monte Carlo Rally.' That year, he created four world records and five ‘International Class C’ records at Montlhery, along with a four-member team.
By winning the '12 Hours of Sebring' in 1954, he became the first person outside America to achieve the feat.
In 1954, he attained his first ‘Formula One’ victory by winning the non-championship 'Oulton Park International Gold Cup' in his ‘Maserati 250F.’
He scored his first ‘World Championship’ win in front of his home crowd in the 1955 ‘British Grand Prix’ at ‘Aintree.’ The same year, he won the 'RAC Tourist Trophy' for the third time.
He won Italy's thousand-mile 'Mille Miglia' road race in 1955.
Continue Reading Below
In 1956 and 1957, he won the 'Nassau Cup' at the 'Bahamas Speed Week,' in a 'Maserati 300S' and a 'Ferrari 290 MM,' respectively. In 1957, he won at the 'Pescara Circuit.' At 25 km, it is the longest circuit ever to conduct a 'World Championship Grand Prix.' At the Bonneville Salt Flats, he achieved five ‘International Class F’ records. During this event, he clocked a speed of 245.64 mph for the flying kilometer.
Due to his sportsmanship (his act of defending his rival, Mike Hawthorn, when Mike was threatened with a penalty) and the crew's miscommunication, he lost the 1958 'Formula One World Championship' by one point.
Between 1958 and 1961, he won all the 'RAC Tourist Trophies' and the first three '6 hours of Nürburgring.' During this period, he also won the 1960 and 1961 ‘Monaco Grand Prix’ contests and the 1961 ‘German Grand Prix.’
After an accident in 1962, which resulted in him slipping into a coma for one month and being paralyzed on his left side, he retired from racing. By then, he had become the runner-up in the ‘Drivers' Championship’ consecutively from 1955 to 1958 and had ranked third in the same championship in the following 3 years.
Though he seemed to have retired from racing, Moss sporadically participated in many races over the next 2 decades.
He participated in the 'London-Sahara-Munich World Cup Rally,' the 'Bathurst 1000,' and the 'Benson & Hedges 500' at the 'Pukekohe Park Raceway,' in 1974, 1976, and 1979, respectively.
He returned to regular competition in 1980 and participated in the 'British Saloon Car Championship.'
On June 9, 2011, after qualifying for the 'Le Mans Legends Race,' Moss, then 81, announced his retirement. Until then, even though he had declared his initial retirement long back, he had continued to participate in special and invitational events.
In 1990, Moss became an inductee of the 'International Motorsports Hall of Fame.'
Continue Reading Below
He received the “knighthood” on March 21, 2000, from Prince Charles (who presented the award on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, who was on an official tour to Australia back then).
He was honored with the 'Segrave Trophy' in 2005.
He was recognized with the 'FIA Gold Medal' in 2006, for his outstanding contribution to the domain of motorsports.
‘McLaren-Mercedes' named their last model of the 'Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren' series the ‘Mercedes McLaren SLR Stirling Moss,’ honoring him.
Based on a mathematical model study conducted by an academic paper, he was named the 29th-best all-time ‘Formula One’ driver.
In Literature & Culture
Moss published his first autobiography, 'In the Track of Speed,' in 1957.
He appeared as a guest challenger on the British TV panel program 'What's My Line?' in March 1958.
He was the subject of the British TV documentary show 'This is Your Life.'
On June 12, 1960, he was interviewed by John Freeman on the 'BBC' show 'Face to Face.'
Continue Reading Below
‘All But My life,' another biography of Moss, was written by motorsport author and commentator Ken Purdy.
He appeared as himself in the 1964 movie 'The Beauty Jungle' and had a cameo role in the 1967 version of the film ‘Casino Royale.'
“Who do you think you are, Stirling Moss?” became a famous catchphrase that was used by the British traffic police to reprimand those caught for overspeeding. Interestingly, this line was once used by a traffic officer on Moss. The policeman later found it difficult to believe that he was actually talking to the man himself.
A cartoon biography in the magazine 'Private Eye' created a character based on him.
In 2009, he trademarked his name for licensing purposes.
He released 'My Racing Life,' his second autobiography, in 2015.
Family, Personal Life & Death
Moss was initially married to Katie Molson. The two had tied the knot in 1957 but separated in 1960.
He then got married to Elaine Barbarino in 1964. Their daughter, Allison, was born in 1967. However, the couple ended the marriage in 1968.
Moss then married Susie Paine in 1980. The same year, their son, Elliot, was born.
Moss and Paine were together until his death on April 12, 2020.
Accidents, Illness, & Health
After meeting with an accident at the Burnenville curve at the ‘Spa-Francorchamps’ circuit during the ‘Belgian Grand Prix’ of the 1960 ‘Formula One Season,’ he was injured severely and could not participate in the following three races.
He met with a major accident at ‘Goodwood,’ during the 'Glover Trophy,' on April 23, 1962. This unfortunate event brought his racing career to an abrupt halt, as he slipped into a coma for a month and was partially paralyzed on his left side for 6 months.
He fell into an elevator shaft at his house on March 7, 2010, fracturing both his ankles and four bones in a leg, hurting his four vertebrae, and sustaining skin lesions.
He was once admitted to a hospital in Singapore due to a severe chest infection. The illness and the prolonged treatment and recovery period made him decide to retire from public life in January 2018.