Saturday, October 12, 2013

Mo' Mille, Mo' Moss, Mo' Mercedes

I've posted before about the Mille Miglia and Stirling Moss's opposition-crushing victory in 1955, but this "Epic Drives" video is good enough that I had to put up a link.  The Moss interview relates a few factoids about Denis Jenkinson's route notes that I hadn't heard before.  It runs 20 minutes.  And, as the Presenter Angus MacKenzie says, the Mercedes SLS is a fitting car in which to retrace the route. Maybe not the most fun, but appropriate: it is a big beast, and the 300 SLR was too.

And here is a link to a site that reprints Jenkinson's gripping (and long) account of the 1955 win, along with his pieces on far less successful outings in 1956 and 1957, in Maseratis.  (You can find good maps of the Mille with a quick internet search.)

There has been a lot of Moss video on this site lately.  He's a good interview.  He was an effective self-promoter from the beginning of his career.  Some say he created the model for the modern professional driver.  He himself has said that being the best driver of his era never to win a World Championship helped to make him more famous than some who did.  In his eight full seasons in Formula 1, Moss finished 13th, 2nd four times, and 3rd three times.  In the same period, Juan Fangio won the championship 4 times, Jack Brabham twice, and Mike Hawthorn and Phi Hill once each.  Nobody, save Fangio, won as consistently as Moss did.  Vintage racing and Moss's website have kept his reputation evergreen 50 years after his last professional race (in 1962).  And, at age 84, he's the only driver from his era doing regular interviews.

Hype notwithstanding, Moss remains the most accomplished road racer of his era if your standard is all-arounder.  In Grands Prix, Fangio was almost as dominant then as Schumacher and Vettel have been recently.  But, like them, Fangio didn't enter sports car races, except for Mercedes in 1955.  Moss reminds me more of Mario Andretti (actually, the other way around, as Mario is a good 10 years younger): he could win in anything, anywhere, any time--or the car broke under him in trying.

Beast: A few weeks before he won the Mille, Stirling Moss co-drove to a win in the Targa Florio in a 300 SLR with
Peter Collins (seen here).  Collins hit a stone wall--hard--in his stint.  Asked about the damage in the pits after Moss
had jumped back in, Collins said "I hit a wall.  But it couldn't have been a very good wall--it just crumbled."

No comments:

Post a Comment