Every day this week GRR is reprinting excerpts from the new Stirling Moss book, published to coincide with the 60th anniversary of Sir Stirling’s epic victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia – also to be celebrated at the Festival of Speed on June 26-28.
Because of the Le Mans disaster the French Grand Prix was cancelled, so the next round was my own British Grand Prix, held that year at Aintree.
By now Fangio and I had a really good working relationship. We had a great battle for the lead, passing and repassing, but then suddenly he was gone from my mirrors and was 11 seconds behind me. I had no idea why until nearly 60 years later, when a photographer who’d been shooting around the back of the circuit told me what had happened. Fangio made a most untypical mistake, sliding wildly across the grass, but managing to gather it all together without actually spinning. The photographer had seen it – although, would you believe, he was changing his film at the time and couldn’t record it.
As the race went into its final stages Mercedes were 1–2–3–4 with everyone else at least a lap down, so Neubauer, as expected, hung out the ‘REG’ (hold station) sign. I eased my pace and Fangio closed up on me, but being a gentleman he obeyed the signal. Nevertheless, as we came out of the final corner with the chequered flag waiting, my right foot was absolutely flat to the floor, just in case.
The timekeepers gave the official gap between us as a fifth of a second, but I think that’s because in those days a fifth was the smallest measure their watches went down to. I didn’t care what the gap was: I had scored my first Grand Prix victory, and I’d done it in my home race. It was a great day for me.
After our victory Fangio was the first to congratulate me. I was never quite sure whether I’d beaten him fair and square that day, or whether he’d let me win because it was my home race. When I asked him, then and years later, he always just smiled enigmatically. But then he never told me about that moment across the grass…
Tomorrow : F1 – and sports cars – with Maserati
This is an extract from Stirling Moss: My Racing Life (£50) which is available from all good book retailers and direct from Evro Publishing , www.evropublishing.com