On This Day in #F1: 23rd April 1962

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler Carlo Carluccio

– 1962: Premature end to the Greatest never to win a title.

On this day – Easter Monday – Stirling Moss entered a minor Formula 1 race known as the Glover Trophy at the Goodwood track in West Sussex. He was competing in a Walker run Lotus 18/21 – essentially a 1960 Lotus 18 re-bodied with 21 bodywork.

lotus_23

About halfway through the race he came into the pits with gearbox trouble and by the time repairs had been completed he had dropped to 17th and a lap behind leader, Graham Hill.

In his effort to un-lap himself he broke the lap record and prepared to pass him as they approached St.Mary’s Corner at 110mph.

“Graham always used to take a wide line whereas I took a narrow one, so I saw my opportunity to pass him. But then he came and took the bit of road I needed, which forced me onto the wet grass, so I went straight into this earth bank at 100mph without a seat belt on, as they weren’t compulsory in those days, and that’s the last thing I can remember.”

article-2226334-15CF4C12000005DC-144_634x781It took the St John’s Ambulance people 45 minutes to cut his limp and unconscious body from the wrecked Lotus with a nurse gently holding his hand throughout.

Although his external injuries were visible it would take X-rays to reveal severe bruising to the right side of his brain and doctors weren’t sure he would survive. He would remain in a coma for 38 days in Atkinson Morley Hospital in London and was partially paralysed for six months afterwards. He left the hospital on 20th July 1962.

Berenice Krikler was the resident clinical psychologist at the hospital and would work with Innes Ireland, Graham Hill, Bruce Mclaren and Jack Brabham to establish a benchmark with which she could make observations of Moss during his rehabilitation.

Tests on his co-ordination and concentration proved he shouldn’t get back into a racing car but racing drivers have an innate belief in themselves. A test in a Lotus 19 confirmed his worst fears.

“It was an easy decision to make at the time, because it was the only decision to take. I had to think. I had to give orders to myself – here I’ll brake, here I must change down, and so on. And another thing; I used to be able to look at the rev counter without taking my eyes off the road – not only that, but I could see the rev counter and a friend waving to me all at the same time. I’d lost that, that had gone. I knew that if I didn’t get out I’d kill myself and maybe somebody else. So, at 32, my plans of continuing to race until my late 40s like my hero Fangio were over.”

Just over a year later Stirling Moss reluctantly retired from the sport that had been his passion since childhood – and became a household name.

A poignant video:

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6 responses to “On This Day in #F1: 23rd April 1962

  1. It was almost 10 years before the first CT scans so they would have known very little about what had happened to his brain, let alone the minimal knowledge of best treatment for traumatic brain injuries – it sounds amazing that he survived at all.

    I love his sense of humour when he talks about the thought of trying to do a Le Mans start with a zimmer frame…

    Thanks Carlo – I really enjoyed the video too:)

    • It is like a different life isn’t it. Medical technology that we take for granted wasn’t even invented then as well as such limited understanding of brain injuries.

  2. Great one Carlo, loved the video as well. Wonder if Krikler wrote up the tests. It would be fascinating to see them replicated with modern drivers just to see the comparison.

  3. I was half Stirling’s age when he stopped and, as he’d also been racing for quite a while, he always struck me as an ‘old’ man. Now, fifty years later, I am amazed how YOUNG he was… 😉

    • I know what you mean. When a driver retired or was killed, as a teenager it always seemed like adults and old boys. Now at 45, I look back and think how young these kids were.
      Even my 1st GP in 82, Lauda won and it was like, oh man, he’s so old! He was 33… and had had his accident merely six years before. But it seemed like another era. I have no doubt some kid out there is thinking about Hamilton this year,
      But he’s old he won like six years ago…

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