Ahead of the Stirling Moss celebrations at the Festival of Speed to mark the 60th anniversary of his famous win in the Mille Miglia, Goodwood Road & Racing is having its own Stirling Moss Week by serialising excerpts from his new book, Stirling Moss: My Racing Life. In this first extract, the teenager is taking his first steps on a career in motor racing…
Our BMW 328 was sold, for £1000, and that provided the funds for my new Cooper, painted cream. It cost £575 without engine and some necessary spares, and we got its JAP engine from Stan Greening of J.A. Prestwich at a good deal, mainly because Dad did his teeth. The first meeting on my calendar was the Shelsley Walsh hillclimb on 2 May 1948, but when I sent in my entry they hadn’t heard of me, and sent it back.
For the Prescott hillclimb the following weekend I got accepted, so I suppose that was the real start of my racing career. A few days before I’d driven the car for the first time, completely illegally, on the roads around a new housing estate being built near Slough – until an old lady on a bicycle wobbled across in front of me and I had to swerve onto the verge to avoid her. No damage, off to Prescott, and I posted fourth in class. I scored my first class win at Stanmer Park a week later.
My first actual race came at Brough in July, on a little track using part of a wartime airfield near Hull. In pouring rain I won my heat and the final, and also a handicap race after starting at the back. I was gratified to see coverage in the Daily Mail, under the headline Brough Race Won by Back Marker. Even more gratifying was my prize money of £13.
At Goodwood in September I won again, but at the first-ever Silverstone meeting I was leading when the engine sprocket came loose. Nevertheless, things had gone pretty well that first season: 15 outings, 11 wins. My father, having been so hard to persuade in the beginning, was now totally supportive and was on hand in his white overalls at every event.
Monday: Convincing Jaguar to give me a car!
Stirling Moss: My Racing Life (£50) is available from all good book retailers and direct from Evro Publishing, www.evropublishing.com