MAY 01st 2015

STIRLING MOSS REMEMBERS THE DAY HIS RACE ENTRY WAS SENT BACK (THEY HADN’T HEARD OF HIM!)

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

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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.

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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.

1948 Goodwood Races.

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

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