When Stirling Moss came to Downpatrick

When Stirling Moss came to Downpatrick

15 April 2020

A RETIRED Downpatrick motor dealer has expressed his “tremendous sadness” at the death of Sir Stirling Moss at the weekend.

The motor racing legend, who was 90, was the guest of honour at the opening of Mr Billy McCormick’s refurbished Black and White garage in 1966.

It was a major event in the town and there were hundreds of people outside the newly renovated premises in Church Street, all eager to get a glimpse of one of the world’s top sports stars.

Mr McCormick has fond memories of the occasion. “It was a big day in every sense. Stirling Moss was a world renowned motor ace and here he was in Downpatrick.

“There was a big crowd and lots of dignitaries who all wanted to see him.”

Moss’s motor racing career had ended four years earlier at the age of 32 after a horrific crash which left him in a coma for a month. Even so, he is regarded as one of the greatest drivers of all time, despite not being world champion

The winner of 16 Formula One grands prix, he finished runner-up in the world championship four times and finished third on three other occasions. He also competed outside Formula One and won a total of 212 of the 529 races he entered in his career.

His trip to Downpatrick had been organised by the BP oil company, with which he was closely related at the time.

Mr McCormick said he was slightly taken aback when he met his distinguished guest for the first time.

“I greeted him when he arrived at the entrance and the first thing he said to me was where was the loo. He needed to go to the toilet,” Mr McCormick recalled.

“He was absolutely brilliant and extremely down to earth. This man was an absolute hero to all of the people there and he could not have been nicer.”

Mr McCormick said it was a “memorable day” for all concerned and that Moss joined them afterwards for a party in the Dunmore Hotel in Killyleagh.

He added: “I am extremely sad that he has passed away. I followed his career with great interest.”