Sir Stirling Moss takes Saga Magazine’s Grown-up Test

Paula Kerr / 26 May 2015

Former Formula One racing driver Sir Stirling Moss, born in 1929, lives in London and Florida with third wife Susie. He has two children.



How old were you when you passed your driving test?

I’ve never taken one. I learned to drive at a time when a licence wasn’t a legal requirement. I felt comfortable behind a wheel from the age of five. I started driving sitting on my mother’s lap because I couldn’t reach the pedals. When my legs grew, my father got me an old Austin 7 to ride around our farm on. I was driving with competence aged seven.

First car?

It was the Austin 7, which was roughly made and nothing very special. The first car I bought was a Matchless Morgan 3 wheeler. The engine was terrific. 

What do you drive now?

I drive a red Renault Twizy. It’s an electric two-seater and has a 50-mile range.  It’s also free to park on parking meters in my car, which usually costs £5 an hour where I live in London, which is ridiculous.

Train or car?

If it’s a long distance, certainly a train.

Twitter. Yes, no, or what?

No. I don’t even know how to do it. What does a Twitter do?

What was the last public complaint or protest you made?

I have complained to the council about loose cobbles in our street in London. It’s a dreadful surface to walk or drive on and I’ve been going on at them about it. 

When did you last send a text message?

A few minutes ago.  I’m texting all the time.

When was the last time you broke the law?

I have often reversed my car from a side road, onto a main road. It’s not quite illegal, though, and we do it all the time, don’t we? 

What's the last good deed you did for the planet?

I don’t smoke and I use an electric car, so I don’t pollute the air and I recycle, too.

What do you wear around the house?

At my home in Florida, I wear a bathing costume, as it’s easier that way if I want to pop in and out of the pool. In London, I wear an open neck shirt and trousers.

Home or away?

I have the best of both worlds, as I have a home in Britain and another in America. I’m a very, very lucky guy. I like the sunshine in Florida and I’m happy to travel there.

Which decade are you most nostalgic for?

The 1940s and 1950s. I was racing every week and travelled around the world. I raced frequently in Australia and New Zealand. I had a very happy and easy-going life through those years.

What items do you collect?

I’m a terrible hoarder.  I keep souvenirs from holidays to remind me of good times and I have CMC model replicas of all the vehicles I raced. They are absolutely perfect.  I also collect frogs. When my wife Sue was pregnant, we didn’t want to know if the baby was going to be a boy or girl, so we called her bump ‘tadpole’. The frog obsession started there.

What is your longest friendship?

It’s with my current wife Susie. We have been an item for over 50 years. I still have a friendship with my first wife and partly a friendship with my second, too.

When did you last forget what you went upstairs for?

About five minutes ago! I’m inclined to do it a lot. I’ll go upstairs and think ‘what am I doing up here?’

What piece of music gets you on a dance floor?

It depends on my mood but l like to dance to smooth jazz. My favourite song to dance to is I’m Glad There Is You by Tony Bennett.

When did you last drink too much?

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been in that situation. I didn’t drink at all until I was 32 years old. I was completely teetotal because I was racing.  Alcohol didn’t taste nice to me as a young man. Though when I married my middle wife, number 2, she said, ‘loosen up, you’ve got to drink wine’, which I do now.

What makes you really grumpy?

I get grumpy when my wife wakes me up to make sure I’m still breathing. That’s so annoying and she does it regularly because I sleep so soundly.

What was your youthful nickname and do you still have it?

Toni. I started off as a trainee hotel manager. I didn’t think they’d remember the name Stirling, so I asked to be called Toni. Nobody calls me that now.

What would you prefer: your youth back or what you have now?

What I have now. I have a fantastic life and I’m very happy.

What’s the bad habit you can’t break?

Impatience. I’ve never been patient and I never will. I believe movement is tranquillity. If you’re doing something, you should be happy. I’m also an impulse buyer. I’m penny wise but pound foolish. 

Name two people from the past you'd like to sit next to at dinne

One would be David Haynes, who was my very best friend from childhood, who is no longer with us and the other is my father.

School prefect or school terror?

Terror. Definitely not prefect.

What was your worst telling-off for?

I was often told off by the headmaster at school but I’m sure I deserved it. I was known as The Agitator. If a group of us were cross about something, we’d go and see the headmaster and I was always pushed to the front to talk on behalf of the group of boys, which regularly got me into trouble.

What are the two main lessons life has taught you?

The value of loyalty and honesty.

Exercise, diet or both?

I don’t exercise, except for some press ups. My wife is always having a go at me about it. I don’t like walking. If we were meant to walk, God wouldn’t have allowed cars to come along. I’m not as fit as I was 20 years ago but I put that down to my age. I watch my diet a bit.

Glass half full or half empty?

It’s half empty but my wife’s glass is half full, so we meet in the middle.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a racing driver from the age of 16. I read a book Road Star Hat Trick by Prince Chula, which showed me what a fantastic life a racing driver had. My father supported me during a one year break from training as a hotel manager. I promised to win races and I did.

Last time you laughed till you cried?

In the past few days I’ve laughed a lot. Susie and I do everything together and make each other laugh every day. 

Verdict

85? We just don’t believe it. With all that energy we say you’re more like 35.

Stirling Moss: My Racing Life (Evro Publishing, £50)

For more on Sir Stirling, visit his official website

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