Sept 17 - Stirling Moss celebrated his 70th birthday on Friday by piloting
his favourite racing car, a bright red 1950s Maserati 250F, around the
Goodwood track where he almost died in 1962.
The greatest driver never to win the Formula One championship, Moss completed three laps of a
practice session for a race for historic ex-Formula One cars before torrential rain brought him in to
the pits early. Sunday's race, for cars of the 1957-61 period, also features Australia's three times world champion Sir Jack Brabham, who turned 70 three years ago. As a World War Two Spitfire fighter plane completed a victory roll overhead, McLaren driver David Coulthard presented Moss with a wooden steering wheel from a Mercedes 300 SLR, a car the Briton drove to victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia. Moss was then driven around the Goodwood track in an open-topped Cadillac by Britain's former world champion Damon Hill, sitting next to a Marilyn Monroe lookalike who sang a breathless happy birthday to the 70-year-old.
"Many of you may remember that during my career my lucky number was seven and there is at least
a seven in my birthday this weekend even though it is followed by a big fat zero,'' Moss reminded the
crowd at the Goodwood Revival meeting. "I've got a feeling that by the end of this weekend I may feel more like 80 than 70 as racing around this circuit is hard work.'' "This year I'm climbing back into a 250F, one of my all-time favourites,'' he continued in his programme notes. "This is the actual car I took to victory in Monaco in 1956. It really is a fantastic piece of machinery. You can't beat the purity of a single seater grand prix car.'' Moss began his career at Goodwood when the circuit opened in 1948 and nearly ended his life there in a non-championship race in April 1962 when his Lotus went out of control and ploughed into an earth bank at high speed.
It took 45 minutes to get Moss out of the car and the driver, who raced 84 different cars during his
career and notched up 22 victories in 506 races, remained unconscious for a month. His Formula One career was over after 16 Grand Prix wins and finishing runner-up in the championship for four years in a row from 1955 to 1958. "Better for me, really,'' he reminisced this week about his lack of a world championship. "The others are known as winning in whatever year. But I'm better known for never having won it at all.'' The Goodwood crash remains unexplained, although Moss famously never had an accident that was not due to mechanical failure, and the Briton still has no memory of it.
"I have about a five-week gap of amnesia, when I was unconscious after the accident, so I don't
remember that at all, so the memories I do have of Goodwood are all happy ones,'' Moss told The
Times newspaper last week. Moss is also due to race a Ferrari 250GTO in a race including former Formula One drivers Martin Brundle, Jochen Mass, Patrick Tambay and Damon Hill. They will be joined by Le Mans winner Derek Bell and musicians Mark Knopfler and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd, who will partner 1996 world champion Hill.