Racing legend Stirling Moss dies at 90, retired champ who needed Royal London surgery when he was 80

Sir Sterling Moss and Lady Suzie Moss before his surgery at the Royal London in 2010. Picture: Moss

Sir Sterling Moss and Lady Suzie Moss before his surgery at the Royal London in 2010. Picture: Moss family - Credit: Moss family

Motor racing legend Sir Stirling Moss has died aged 90 after a long illness.

He had been in official retirement nearly 60 years after his crash at Goodwood in 1962, but was no stranger to accidents in the decades that followed.

He had to have emergency surgery at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel when he was 80 following a freak accident.

The retired Formula One racer arrived by ambulance in March 2010 after breaking both ankles and chipping his spine when he fell 30ft down a lift shaft at the luxury mansion block in Mayfair where he and Lady Moss lived. The shaft door had opened in error while the lift was three floors down, reported in the East London Advertiser at the time.

His family were relieved that he survived the fall, his body still having the resilience to injury it had in his racing days.

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Just four months later, he was on the Silverstone podium to present Lewis Hamilton with his trophy for finishing second.

He continued to race until he was 81, despite his official retirement, and finally retired from public life in 2018.

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Stirling Moss missed out on becoming the first British driver to win the Formula One world title in 1958 following an extraordinary act of sportsmanship. His championship rival Mike Hawthorn was set to be excluded from the Portuguese Grand Prix after a marshal claimed he had illegally rejoined the track following a spin.

Moss had dominated the race and would have won by five minutes, but instead jumped to Hawthawn’s defence and rubbished the marshal’s claim. Hawthorn was reinstated and went on to win the race, beating Moss by just one point.

“I had no hesitation in doing it,” Moss recalled many years later. “The fact that he was my only championship rival didn’t come into my thinking.”

Moss won 16 Grand Prix races between 1951 and 1961 before officially retiring a year later after his Goodwood crash which left him in a coma for a month.

Stirling was knighted in 2000 for services to the racing industry. He passed away peacefully this Easter weekend, Lady Suzie Moss revealed.

“It was one lap too many,” she said. “He just closed his eyes.”

Stirling Moss came first in 212 races in his 14-year career which began in 1948. Any motorist caught speeding in those days might be asked sarcastically, “Who do you think you are—Stirling Moss?”

That was the legend that grew up around Britain’s best-loved racing driver.

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