Becoming A Professional Driver

Stirling Moss, Manx Cup, Isle of Man, British Empire Trophy

Because racing on public roads was against the law in England, and racing at Silverstone and Goodwood was just getting started, British races in the immediate postwar years were often held at places that allowed that type of racing, such as the Isle of Man, a Crown Dependency in the Irish Sea and not part of the United Kingdom, at Dundrod in Ireland and at the St. Helier circuit in Jersey, one of the Channel Islands.

The young man in this 1949 photograph in this very small racing car is none other than Stirling Moss. This was one of his first races outside of England. The race, for under 2.5 liter racing cars, was called The Manx Cup and was a support race for the more important British Empire Trophy for Grand Prix cars, both taking place on the Douglas Circuit, a course which used public roads on the Isle of Man. The word “Manx” referred to the local language on the island which was a version of Gaelic.

The car that Moss is driving was known as a Cooper-JAP and was powered by a 1000cc twin cylinder JAP motor. The Cooper was first developed for 500cc F3 racing, but with this increased power and its very light weight, the Cooper-JAP was quite competitive with racing cars with larger engines and could often go for an overall win. Various forms of the JAP motor were produced in England by J. A. Prestwich Industries and saw use in various motorcycles and cars, such as the Morgan Super Sport.

Stirling’s father Alfred Moss, who was a dentist by profession, gave his son a lot of support in his early years and had made it possible for the young Moss to step up to the Cooper-JAP. True to the car’s and its driver’s potentials, in The Manx Cup Moss took pole position in practice and worked up a good lead over Dudley Folland’s two-liter Ferrari. Eventually, however, the Cooper’s magneto drive broke and that was it for the day. In his 18 races with this Cooper in its 1000cc form during 1949, Moss was on the podium 13 times with six class wins.

Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection

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