Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler Carlo Carluccio
– 1958: Stirling Moss – A True Sporting Gent
“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.” – Ernest Hemingway.
There is without doubt hundreds of accounts of sporting behaviour in professional sport, events that to this day have become part of the very fabric of life. However, as the rewards increase, does a corruption of ethics and self-interest negate the very reason for sporting endeavour?
In motor-sport, we have all become accustomed to the concept of the modern ‘greats’ being ruthless and applaud them for this characteristic. Millions of words have been written about Senna’s ruthlessness and subsequently Schumacher, Alonso and Vettel.
When we glimpse back throughout Grand Prix history the assumption is that the drivers that defined the genesis of the sport were sporting giants, yet Fangio is renowned for moving teams to suit his desires of winning. Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins had an agreement to share prize money between them that inadvertently led to Luigi Musso being killed.
Time travel back a generation or two and history shows Carraciola, Nuvolari and co. as hardened professional drivers competing for nationalistic glory and as determined as any other era.
All these sportsmen shared another trait, they never stopped at the scene of an accident irrespective of the gravity of the incident. Moss – “I certainly had an appreciation of the danger which to me was part of the pleasure of racing. To me now racing is – the dangers are taken away: if it’s difficult, they put in a chicane. So really now the danger is minimal – which is good, because people aren’t hurt. But for me the fact that I had danger on my shoulder made it much more exciting.”
Maybe the psyche of living through World Wars coloured their perspectives but even to this day, drivers and teams accept the risks and after an appropriate minutes silence, move on to the next event.
Stirling Moss is a sporting legend.
In the 1958 Portugese Grand Prix, Mike Hawthorn spun and stalled on an uphill section of the track. He steered downhill against traffic and restarted the car to finish second to Moss. The stewards were going to penalise Hawthorn but Moss defended his actions saying he had reversed on the pavement.
In Morocco, Moss took his Vanwall to his fourth victory of 1958. To secure the World title he needed to win, set the fastest lap and required Hawthorn to finish lower than second.
At the start, Moss took the lead with Phil Hill making a great start and chasing him for the lead. On the third lap Hill ran down an escape road and had to resume the chase once more. He passed Bonnier quickly and was waved through by Hawthorn to chase after Moss. Tony Brooks in the second Vanwall passed Hawthorn in an attempt to help Moss, but Hawthorn battled with Brooks until his engine blew up.
With Hill letting Hawthorn through, Stuart Lewis Evans, the third Vanwall driver tried to close up but his engine blew up on the forty-second lap and as he careered off the circuit, the spraying oil ignited. He jumped out with his overalls alight and the flames were extinguished, but he had suffered terrible burns which he would succumb to six days later.
Moss had won by almost a minute and a half from Hawthorn and set a new lap record, but he lost the championship by a single point.
Britain celebrated it’s first World Champion driver and the inaugural Constructors Trophy with Vanwall.
I really thought the 3rd was hunting, but Google proves me wrong.
My wife’s great grandmother was Hemingways cousin. If I had got that quote wrong….
Hi Carlo… although you mention Moss’ support for Hawthorn’s bump-start you could have stressed this ultimately lost him the championship. Even in his time that was a rare, and gracious, event..
However, I’m not sure about the Hawthorne/Collins/Musso incident, as it was not (I think) unusual in those days (and earlier) for team-mates to agree to share winnings, and not fight against each other – it was somewhat akin to team orders, however ‘ungentlemanly’… but my main objection is this story only seems to appear on Wiki, and is the ‘opinion’ of Musso’s grieving (and apparently vindictive) girlfriend – not necessarily a reliable witness. The way you word it is almost character assassination…
Not your usual style, old boy… 😉 but it’s still nice to read your pieces.
Thanks BJF, just re read it and I see your point re Moss’s sportsmanship. It was the main point if the feature.
Mussos gf probably has her own axe to grind, in a Ferrari documentary she claimed he was seducing her days after Musso was killed and they had an affair for some years. All news to me!
Do you mean Moss…!?
Sounds to me like this woman was poison…
No, she says this about Enzo in this documentary.
Around 34.30 in.
Phew…! You had me worried there, Carlo… 😉
Thanks for the clip… Isn’t it a shame so many of these YouTube clips are such appalling technical quality – in years to come people are liable to believe that was the quality of 80’s TV – in the same way people now think pre-1940 movies were all scratched and lacking contrast…
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As for ‘The Madame of Modena’ I also worry how uncorroborated ‘opinions’ so easily become ‘facts’ and that’s especially true with public sites like Wiki, and the Internet Movie Database – it is very easy for people to (innocently…?) post half-truths yet often impossible for individuals to have them corrected. Oh well… that’s enough for today.
Great work Carlo, thanks!