Wednesday 9 January 2013

The 1955 Mille Miglia: German Power, British Might

Post-WWII, Mercedes-Benz was busy digging itself out of the ravages of the war, and trying to regain the presence as a constructor of cars of quality.

They developed the W194 300 SL Gullwing sports car for the 1952 season, winning the 24 heurs du Mans and La Carrera Panamericana.

For 1954, they came with a full force of Formula 1 and Sports Car/GT racers and dominated the season.

For 1955, they fully developed their racing sports cars, closely based on their Formula 1 racers.

For the Mille Miglia, they had a team of 4 new 300 SLR's to do battle against the platoon of Ferraris.

The drivers were (Sir) Stirling Moss, with his navigator journalist/racer Denis Jenkinson, Hans Herrmann, with his navigator, and Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling, both sans navigators.

For their race, Moss and Jenkinson practiced by driving the whole route, with Jenkinson making pace notes all along the way.

The Mercedes-Benz team glued the pace notes together into one long scroll, and installed it in a waterproof windowed box so that Jenkinson could read them out loud to Moss en route.

Jenkinson’s pace notes allowed Moss to drive the whole race flat out, and they won in the unheard-of record time of 10 hours 07 mins 48 secs, with an average speed of 157.650 km/h (97.96 mph), all of it done on public roads!

It was the second time that Mercedes-Benz won the event, the first time being Rudolf Caracciola’s 1931 win.

1 comment:

Art Tidesco said...

Happy New Year Paul,

Were (Sir) Stiling Moss and Hans HerrMann friends with (Sir) Stirling Moss and Hans Herrmann per chance ?

No need to approve this one most days I wish I had a proof reader too ;-)

Wishing you all the best for 2013.