Back in September I attended the 2016 Goodwood Revival for the first time. It was the first time and I absolutely loved it: everythign was themed and you really felt as if you had gone back in time (if you didn’t mind all the smartphones & external chargers). Everything you need to know about this incredible event, you can find right here. But to me the 2016 Goodwood Revival is even more special, because I had the absolute privilege and honor to have my unbelievable ride with Sir Stirling Moss, which I’m not about to forget.
A little introduction on the man himself. Sir Stirling Moss is a british motor sport legend born in 1929. He raced in Formula 1 from 1951 to 1962, alongside Juan-Manuel FANGIO, and won 16 races in his career, but he never won the title (which is why some call him the « King without a crown »). He also won several times races here and there, including the famous 1955 Mille Miglia behind the wheel of his 300SLR « 722 » (very famous car and probably one of the most expensive in the world). He is undoubtedly one of the greatest legends of motorsport.
What I find even more incredible is that this flabbergasting opportunity present itself during the Goodwood Revival, which is an event that reminisces and pays tribute to the golden age of Goodwood motor circuit. It’s also important to know that the Goodwood motor circuit is particularily special for Sir Stirling Moss, and not necessarily for the best of reasons: he had a severe accident back in 1962 during testing, at the St-Mary turn. He spent weeks in the hospital. This accident would be a pivotal point in his carreer: for his come-back in a race car, at Goodwood again, he decided to stop his carreer. Indeed, he felt he wasn’t 100% anymore (lack of reflexes, automatisms etc…). In Goodwood. Because of the « Goodwood accident ». Talk about an important place in a man’s career… Even though this unfortunate event had happened 54 (!) years ago, the name of Goodwood & Stirling Moss still go hand in hand to this day. Could timing have been better than this? I sincerely doubt it. I was riding with a motorsport legend at one of the world’s most renowned classic event. In a race track that meant so much to him and to us.
Everything started out with an invitation from Goodwood. I was wandering the paddocks, enjoying the show and the ambiance, minding my business, when I received a text from them: they simply asked me if I’d be interested to ride with Sir Stirling Moss. I let that sink in for a moment, I thought they were joking around at first. You can imagine the kind of answer I gave: YES, I WOULD LOVE TO. Off we went to organize things, and to make me sign a few papers to be able to ride as a passenger.
Sooner than you know, I was in the Goodwood assembly area. The car was right in front of me. It was a gorgeous british-racing green Aston Martin DB3s, another car that Sir Stirling Moss had masterfully driven. I even think it was that exact same one. It all happened really fast: they told me to get in the car, which I did. It’s very easy to get in, spacious as hell. The current owner of the car was behind the wheel at the time. Silly me: I asked him about the seat-belt. The man chuckled and jokingly replied « seat-belts? Why? There’s no need for seat-belts! Who needs seat-belts! ». I felt a bit silly. We then went off for a quick lap around the circuit to warm the engines a bit, before the celebratory lap.
This is when I found out that I had no windshield, or anything to protect me from the wind. No goggles, no helmet. Just my neck-strength and determination haha. We weren’t driving really fast, it was not a race. But still, the brute force of the wind in my face made everything a bit more difficult, but nonetheless very very enjoyable. My tie, my shirt, my tweed jacket: everything was going wild. Good thing there was a first lap so I could arrange it all and prevent things from flying around. On a side note, to this day, it’s probably one of the most expensive cars I’ve been in (definitely in the TOP 3). Anyways, after the chicane, all cars went to position themselves on the Goodwood straight. That’s when the owner left the driving position and an empty driver seat, and told me to enjoy myself! This is also when I realized all the other cool cars that were there with us.
And then, out of the blue, Sir Stirling Moss showed up. He was with his wife, and a bunch of other people helping him around. Indeed, the 87 year-old man didn’t look like he fully recovered from his 2010 accident: he uses a walking stick and you can tell that a life of racing has caught up with him. He took place inside the car with a bit of difficulty, but once he was there, you could tell that this is where he felt the best. You could tell this was his true home: behind a steering wheel. We stayed there for at least 10 minutes, he was talking to his wife so I didn’t felt like barging in or eaves-drop on their conversation. Some of the other drivers came and talked with him, including John Surtees, that was driving the Ferrari 250 GTO (no biggie…. haha).
Then everyone left the straight-line, and I had a bit of talking time with the man. At first I thought he wasn’t much of a talker, but he quickly opened-up: he knew that I had to ask him a few questions and he played along (I had a mic and a lot of batteries + a GoPro filming me). We didn’t really get to talk a lot because the start of the celebratory laps was about to begin. He fired up the engine of the Aston Matin DB3s, and it instantly became impossible to have a conversation, it was time to ENJOY. I couldn’t help but think of a lifetime of doing this: he knew everything about the car.
Then we had the green flag. And off we went! But he stalled! I guess having me as a passenger is bad luck haha. No biggie, we soon caught up again with everyone. He was going slightly faster than during the warm-up lap. I could tell because the wind felt even stronger on my face. As a true showman, he drove the car with one hand, and saluted the crowd with the other. You could definitely tell he still « had it »: trajectories, track, he knew everything about it. Though he must’ve done it countless times after the accident, I’m fairly certain racing in Goodwood motor circuit still brings out memories for him (I myself constantly had them in mind). Despite looking fragile on his two legs, he soon felt fully recovered on his 4 wheels. It was quite the transformation. I kept watching his every move, fully conscious of my unbelievable ride. I was riding with a legend, and I know not many people in the world had this incredible opportunity. All I know is that many people would kill for this privilege.
When the two laps were over, we got back to the paddocks. I was ecstatic. He didn’t seem impressed. Which is understandable haha. The marshalls told us to go somewhere, but eventually there was a mix-up, they didn’t know where our car should go, and we ended-up blocking the cars for a few seconds. They ended up telling us to go some place, and there was only us. That’s where he said in a very british accent « what a massive cock-up, right? ». He must not have known I wasn’t english, I only learned later what « cock-up » meant lol. We stayed in the car a little bit, randomly chit-chatting. His wife and mechanics soon came to help him out and take him a way. He said goodbye to me, and this is how my unbelievable ride with Sir Stirling Moss ended!
Now that I think back on it, I know it was a real privilege. At first I couldn’t find my words to describe it, I just had a silly smile on my face all day. Like a true kid, I kept wanting to share this with everyone and boast, tell it to everyone I crossed path with « Hey, did you know I had a ride with Stirling Moss? » (obviously, I didn’t, that would’ve been very weird lol). I felt like a kid, with my head full of wonderful memories! To this day, it’s still hard to fully comprehend or explain to people this experience and why it means so much to me (and why it would mean so much to any car enthusiast, for that matter).
Photos: Thanks to JMimaging & Goodwood
Thanks for reading!
Thanks to Goodwood for the opportunity!
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