Sunday, April 12, 2020

Sir Stirling Moss, 1929-2020

Considered amongst the greatest racing drivers of his generation (and the finest Formula 1 World Champion who never was), Stirling Moss passed away quietly at home today.  Famed as a Grand Prix competitor as well as a sports car racer, Moss did have a fleeting connection to Corvette as the photo above shows.  He is standing with Zora Arkus-Duntov at the 1957 12 Hours of Sebring road race, where Duntov let him drive the Corvette SS practice car but not the actual magnesium-bodied racer as Moss had a reputation for being hard on cars and the Corvette SS.  Moss came second in the race with Harry Schell in a Maserati 300S behind the winning Maserati 450S of Fangio/Behra, while the Corvette SS failed to finish.

From the book "Star-Spangled Sportscar," a history of the first three generations of Corvette, it seems that the practice car, an engineering "mule," may have become the basis for the famous Bill Mitchell-designed Stingray Racer of 1959, that in turn heavily influenced the design of the iconic 1963 production Corvette.  The chassis was sold to Mitchell for a mere $500 but he eventually was required to return it to GM.

1959 Corvette Stingray Racer
1959 was the year that Stirling Moss was photographed at Riverside International Raceway with "Miss Corvette," British model June Wilkinson, who was a discovery of Playboy's Hugh Hefner and one of the world's most photographed women in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

In 1966 racing enthusiast Laurie Craig became the first Canadian to win an overall event title and trophy in an unmodified street car when he drove his 1964 Corvette to a remarkable victory at the Player's Pacific Race on May 15 against an international field that included McLarens, Ford GTs, Porsches, Brabhams, and other purpose-built racers.  After the race, Stirling Moss drove a lap of the Westwood Race Track in the Corvette and signed a photo for Mr. Craig.

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