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The Master Parks his Gloves and Helmet

As a boy I was a great fan of Stirling Moss, but only into my adult years have I been able to appreciate the depth of his talent. The 1955 Mille Miglia was his greatest victory.

In today's world of driver aids, Radars, Lidars, sensors and carbon fibre, this victory deserves a closer look. The car itself was an animal compared to the fault-free missiles we buy off the showroom floor today.

Cross-ply tyres, drum brakes (mounted inboard so they could make them bigger than the wheel rims), 230kW of power, 880kgs dry weight and rear swing axles. Moss insisted on 70 gallons of fuel at the start which meant massive COG shifts as the car lightened. 1600kms of public Italian roads with no spectator controls, no run-off areas and no safety barriers to speak of.

The engine had a fuel injection system from the Messerschmitt 109, and a novel mid-crank power take-off to minimise crank whip from the 2.9-litre bored straight-8.

A wind brake was fitted to the LeMans cars to help keep the brakes alive against the Jaguar's new disc brakes.

With all of that Moss averaged a staggering 99mph - 160-kmh for the race distance, helped by his co-driver, Denis Jenkinson's pioneering pace notes that they developed over several months. They enabled Moss to confidently crest blind hills at 170mph, on one occasion travelling nearly 200 feet before the car crashed back to earth.

Moss used three steering wheels - the one in his hands, the throttle and the brake pedal. He pioneered setting the car up for a corner by keeping the brakes on while he turned in. I practised that in Formula Fords and it demands total confidence in the car and its set-up. The run-off areas at Perth's Barbagallo Raceway became very familiar territory to me!

Most people think of Moss only in relation to Formula 1. He was a master of his craft across far broader playing field than that.

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