by Valerie Pirie
2020 review by Guy Loveridge
Valerie Pirie is a name that many might be unfamiliar with. Anyone who has contacted Sir Stirling Moss over the last 60 years may never have wondered who the names at the bottom of the letter were, but if you were to receive one such letter today, there would be “V. Pirie” listed as a director of Stirling Moss Ltd. That is Valerie, or “Viper” as Sir Stirling affectionately (sic) christened her.
Starting to work for a legend such as Stirling Moss at the tender age of 17.5 would seem, in retrospect, to have not daunted Valerie a bit. She was looking to move away from her family home having just come second in year at her secretarial college, and a London position in 1958 looked pretty enticing. Clearly she little knew what a whirlwind ride she would be taken on for the rest of her, and Stirling’s life.
This book should not be read as a strictly accurate historical work. Some names are omitted, presumably to protect the guilty, and some facts are wrong – Denny Hulme was a New Zealander, not an Australian, for example – but the interest and the key to why this book is compulsive reading is the unique insight it gives into how Stirling, a man at the very top of his game in 1958-1962, ticked. The fastidious way he lived his life, the eccentricities and his often secret generosity to those less well off, or less able than himself. The era of motor sport that starts this tale is very much the one in which I immerse myself and, as a result, I have been fortunate enough to spend a fair bit of time with Sir Stirling and Lady Susie Moss and have enjoyed both of their company immensely. This book affords some secrets, some new titbits of information and a glimpse into the world that vanished 7 years before I was born. Funny that, 7 is Stirling’s lucky number – always has been, always will be. A good book, at a reasonable price; just don’t let the factual errors spoil it for you.
Publisher: Biteback Publishing. www.bitebackpublishing.com
Description: Hardback with dustjacket (160 x 240 mm), 328 pages, illustrated in black and white and colour throughout.
Wonder why a photo of Fangio rather than Moss was chosen for the cover photo . . . Is it explained inside the book, perhaps?
In response to a comment on Amazon about the Fangio cover photo, Valerie Pirie wrote:
You are quite correct, this was not my choice. It was pointed out at the very beginning…
It is not addressed directly in the book, but it IS clearly expressed that Stirling believed Fangio to be ‘the best’.