“The Mille Miglia was the one race that actually frightened me, at the least till the second the flag fell” Sir Stirling Moss informed us in 2015, on the sixtieth anniversary of undoubtedly one of many best drives in motorsport historical past, not to mention his profession. “There have been lots of of vehicles collaborating, though I didn’t should overtake them as a result of half of them fell off. Italian hairdressers you see, with go-faster stripes.”
On 1 Might 1955 Moss and co-driver Denis Jenkinson, a motorsport author (the chap with the beard), received the twenty second Mille Miglia in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR. They’d coated the virtually 1,000 mile route round northern Italy, from Brescia to Rome after which again to Brescia, in simply ten hours, seven minutes and 48 seconds at a median velocity of 98mph. It’s a document that also stands right now – the Mille was run in its authentic kind for the twenty fourth and closing time in 1957.
The Italians had a large home-field benefit on the Mille. A lot in order that Moss and German Rudolf Caracciola had been the one two non-Italians to ever win it. “Driving in a highway race the place you don’t know the circuit is kind of completely different, and calls for a distinct method…” Moss informed us. “I may be taught the Targa Florio, the place I knew set the automobile up for every nook. I couldn’t for the Mille Miglia: you possibly can’t be taught 1000 miles [of public road], there are spectators lining the highway and you may’t even see the apex of the nook, so that you drive with the information that perhaps as you go spherical it’s going to get tighter.”
Which is why Moss enlisted the assistance of Jenkinson. Collectively they practiced the course earlier than the principle occasion and got here up with a set of detailed tempo notes. These notes lived in a steel curler gadget hooked up to the SLR’s dashboard, and had been communicated to Moss with a set of hand gestures the 2 males had agreed upon. Moss informed us that with out Jenkinson, he’d have been “a lot slower”.
For context, Sir Stirling beat then F1 world champion Juan Manuel Fangio, in one other SLR however with out a co-driver, by greater than half an hour.
Moss and Jenkinson departed Brescia at 7:22am, therefore their SLR’s 722 race quantity. It was among the many quickest vehicles within the discipline, with Moss hitting 180mph at instances (keep in mind these are slim Italian nation roads we’re speaking about), and these days is insanely priceless. Who is aware of what it’d fetch at public sale, ought to Mercedes ever determine to half with it. Moss mentioned the SLR “was a big automobile however it was nicely suited to the occasion. It was additionally fairly economical… we had been getting eight or 9 mpg, which at that velocity just isn’t dangerous at all”.
Moss was 25 years-old when he received the Mille. The legend died in April 2020 aged 90.