LORD Montagu has paid tribute to motor racing legend Sir Stirling Moss – who forged a close connection to the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.
Sir Stirling, who died aged 90 over the Easter weekend, is widely recognised as one of the greatest and fastest racers, and his association with the museum stretched back decades.
Paying tribute, the current Lord Montagu said: “Sir Stirling was a friend of Beaulieu since the early days, when he attended the opening of the new Montagu Motor Museum buildings – the forerunner to the National Motor Museum – in 1959.
“In a wonderful demonstration of continuity, we were delighted when he returned in 2015 to open our new motor sport display, A Chequered History.
“He will be remembered as one of the greats of British motor sport.”
Sir Stirling’s return was alongside famed Formula One commentator Murray Walker and included a nostalgic Q&A session in the museum’s Lecture Theatre that looked back at his glittering racing career in front of 100 guests.
In spite of his age, Sir Stirling took the opportunity to sit in two of the museum’s sports cars which held special significance for him.
He started his career driving a similar 1949 Cooper 500 as one in the display, telling reporters it had been “the ideal drive”. However, he was less than flattering about the 1950 BRM V16, calling it “positively the worst car I ever drove”.
He went on: “Lovely gearbox, good brakes, but the thing is you couldn’t stop it because it handled so bad, it wasn’t very nice!”
An OBE, Sir Stirling was an inductee into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, having won 212 of the 529 races he entered across several categories of competition.
He never won the F1 world championship and is regarded as the greatest driver never to do so. It was not for the want of trying: he finished as runner-up four times and was third three times, but retired in his early 30s after surviving a horrendous crash during an Easter weekend race at Goodwood.