His Greatest Race

61C1-59

This dynamic image shows Stirling Moss in Rob Walker’s privately-entered Lotus 18 at Station Hairpin on the Monte Carlo circuit during the Monaco Grand Prix on May 14, 1961. Both Moss and many motoring journalists regard his victory in this race as his greatest win ever.

In practice, Moss qualified fastest, a tribute to both his great skill at Monaco and the handling qualities of the Lotus, because the new V-6 rear-engined Ferraris of Richie Ginther, Phil Hill and Wolfgang von Trips where considerably more powerful. Moss’ time was all the more impressive in that his car was a 1960 model and the Lotus factory’s number one driver, Jim Clark, who qualified third fastest had the latest Lotus 21.

As Moss was getting his car in position on the starting grid, he noticed a crack in one of its frame tubes. Alf Francis, the famous Walker mechanic, came over immediately with a welding torch and repaired the frame crack there on the grid – with the Lotus full of fuel – just before the start! For the race, Moss had removed the side panels of his car’s bodywork so as to have extra cooling. There was scant protection anyway for the driver in those cars.

Ginther’s Ferrari led away from the flag, but Moss took over after 13 laps and pulled out a small lead. Both Ginther’s and Hill’s Ferraris, and for a time Jo Bonnier’s Porsche, kept pace with Moss, keeping the pressure on the Lotus. In fact, Ginther and Moss shared the fastest lap of the race. At the finish, Moss ha a 3.6 second lead as both Hill and then later Ginther had tried to get closer but to no avail. Moss had won with a year-old privateer’s car at a power deficit of over 30 hp to his Ferrari pursuers.

Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection.

 

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2 comments

  1. jim sitz · · Reply

    Perhaps his greatest race in a GP Formula I car

    BUT,,to my mind his greatest was 1955 Mille Miglia
    or his drive in Aston Martin at Nurburgring 1000 km event

    moist sincerely

    Jim sitz

    Like

  2. jim sitz · · Reply

    The Monaco race 1961 was tremendously exciting and Hot.!
    Admired Moss very much but must confess was pulling for old friend
    Richie Ginther. (not many people in Europe knew who he was). we
    had been friends since his 1954 ride in Mexican Roads Race.

    Many years later, 1982, Richie and me riding motorcycles.
    sitting in his motor home, he said his proudest moment was
    being listed in next years Monaco program as ” Fastest Lap” the
    year before,,Richie set lap time and Moss could only equal it. !

    I have always said that I had never seen Stirling Moss have an “off Day”
    watched him race from, 1956 to 61 and could not recall any performance
    less then 100%.

    respectfully

    Jim sitz
    Oregon USA

    Like

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