When I was approached to come up with an ESM Icon, many, many names sprung to mind.
Luigi can attest to the fact that I immediately came up with around fifty ideas. However, there was one that seemed to fit both ESM’s ideals and my personal niche best. His name is Sir Stirling Moss OBE and he is one of the greatest racing drivers to have ever kicked a throttle pedal.
He raced for Mercedes-Benz, Maserati, Vanwall, Rob Walker Cooper, Lotus, and HWM, as well as driving many, many other cars. He drove over 84 different makes of cars over his career; everything from a Mini Cooper to the legendary Maserati Tipo 61 “Birdcage.” However, he did once say that it is “better to lose honourably in a British car than to win in a foreign one.”
We’re talking about a man who won 16 and achieved 24 podiums in Formula One in addition to winning the 12 Hours of Sebring, The Mille Miglia, and the 1,000km race at the Nurburgring. He was one of the few drivers in history to be competitive in both Formula One, GT racing, and rallying.
Video from http://www.porsche.co.uk/origin.
Today his name is still used as slang in Britain, where it refers to a person who drives much faster than usual. Police officers have been known to ask motorists “Who do you think you are, Stirling Moss?” Shortly after being knighted Moss himself was pulled over and asked that exact question, to which he responded “Sir Stirling Moss, actually.”
What’s more important is that he is the quintessential gentleman racer.
Although he is often described as being “the greatest driver never to win a championship” he essentially gave away the 1958 title. Mike Hawthorne was in the running for world champion when he spun and stalled his car on an uphill section of track in Portugal. Moss shouted to him to drive against traffic downhill to start the car rather than reversing and thus incurring a six point penalty. After the even had finished and the race stewards had given Hawthorne the penalty anyway, Moss defended his rival and ended up trailing Hawthorne by only one point when the season had wrapped up.
This was his fourth consecutive time placing second. Gentleman indeed.
He continued racing in some capacity until June 9th, 2011 at the age of 81 when he announced his retirement at Le Mans Legends.
Between his amazing skill behind the wheel, his record of acting with great honor, and his ability to look cool and collected at all times, we can think of no better ESM Icon.
For more information on Sir Stirling Moss, you can check out his official website at http://www.stirlingmoss.com/.