Racing driver Paul O’Shea won his second title as US sports car champion 60 years ago in the 1956 season driving a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing”. When the season ended on 28 December 1956, he was champion in the category “D Production“ and had scored the most points in the National Sports Car Championship of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). The championship title was informally awarded by the news media. The SCCA only honoured the champions in the individual categories. To crown the winner among the champions of the racing classes, the newspapers and magazines counted the highest number of total points achieved by a driver in a season. He went on to defend his title again the following year, this time driving a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLS, the racing version of the 300 SL Roadster.
Competed in his first race as factory driver in a Mercedes in Baden-Baden in 1923 and scored twelve victories before the year was over. In his career, the “rain champion” won well over 100 races and was the most successful German racing driver of the pre-war period. He was three times European champion (1935, 1937, 1938) and set numerous world speed records. He posted the highest speed in 1938 on the Frankfurt-Darmstadt autobahn: 432.7 km/h (268.9 mph) – a record for public roads which has held to this day.
Began his sporting career in 1928 as a motorcycle racer. Between 1934 and 1939, he was a member of the Mercedes-Benz team and won several major races, first and foremost the legendary 1934 Eifel race. Manfred von Brauchitsch was nicknamed Pechvogel, unlucky devil, because unfortunate circumstances repeatedly deprived him of victories and good placings. After his active racing days, he became the first president of the German Automobile Association (AvD) in 1948. In 1953, he moved to the former German Democratic Republic.
After completing an apprenticeship as a mechanic, Lang began his career as a motorbike racer in 1927. In 1933, he joined the Mercedes-Benz testing department as a mechanic. Because of his impressive cornering skills, his talent for driving was discovered, and the company allowed him to compete for the first time in 1935. Along with many other races, he won the Grand Prix of Tripoli three times and superseded Caracciola as most successful driver in 1939. In 1952, Lang won the Le Mans 24 Hours together with Fritz Riess. In 1954, he retired from racing.
Englishman John Richard Beattie, nicknamed “Dick” Seaman, a wealthy private driver, achieves many early racing successes. Among other things, as a member of the Whitney Straight team he wins several races with MG supercharged cars in 1934. And yet the Cambridge graduate always dreams of being able to race for Mercedes-Benz. Seaman’s dream draws within his grasp in 1936 when the Stuttgart-based brand invites him for test drives which he passes with flying colours as the best among 30 candidates. In 1937, he then starts to race for the Silver Arrow team. His victory in the German Grand Prix at Nürburgring in 1938 is his greatest triumph. That same year Seaman marries Erika Popp, daughter of the BMW (Bayerische Motoren-Werke) general director. After a serious accident in the Belgian Grand Prix on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in June 1939, Seaman dies as a consequence of the injuries suffered.
Fangio was a Formula One driver for Mercedes-Benz from 1954. With ten wins in all in two seasons, he convincingly won the 1954 and 1955 world championships in his Mercedes-Benz W 196 R. He subsequently raced for other teams for three more years and closed out his career in 1958 as five-time world champion. Not only that makes “knock-kneed” one of the most successful Formula One drivers in history: in 51 Grand Prix starts, he won 24 times. This success rate remains unsurpassed to this day.
In the 1930s, Kling made a name for himself in touring car races and reliability trials. In 1952, he claimed victory in the Carrera Panamericana in a 300 SL despite his famous run-in with a vulture and was the first racing driver to be named German athlete of the year. In the 1954 season, Kling was a member of the newly formed Mercedes-Benz Formula One team and right off the bat finished second in Reims in the first race. As successor to racing manager Alfred Neubauer, he maintained contact with the racing scene after 1956.
Together with Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling, Hans Herrmann was one of those racing drivers with whom the return of Daimler-Benz AG to Grand Prix motorsport was realised in the 1950s. Hans Herrmann finished third in the Swiss Grand Prix and fourth in the Italian Grand Prix. From 1956 on, he drove for various other teams. After seeing action in Formula Two and Formula One races, he capped his career with a victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1970.
Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio dominated the 1955 Formula One season in which Moss won his home Grand Prix in the United Kingdom. In the sports car world championship of 1955, he won the Mille Miglia, the Tourist Trophy and the Targa Florio. After Daimler-Benz withdrew from motor racing, Stirling Moss competed very successfully for other manufacturers. Though always among the best, he never would be Formula One world champion. In 1962, he retired from active racing following a severe accident.
Pierre Bouillin, the son of a Parisian businessman, begins participating in car racing under the pseudonym “Pierre Levegh” in 1937. The qualified antiquarian starts off first driving a Bugatti, then from 1938, a Talbot. By the end of the 1930s, he has become well-known thanks to his participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans piloting a Talbot. After the Second World War, Levegh also drives a Talbot at Le Mans so that in the 1952 race he represents the most powerful competition to the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 194). Driving as an individual pilot, he holds the lead until one hour before the end of the competition, but then has to give up because of a technical malfunction. Impressed by this performance, Mercedes-Benz offers him a place at the wheel of a 300 SLR (W 196 S) in 1955 for the Le Mans event. In this year’s 24-hour race, however, there is a terrible accident as Levegh is pushed off the track and flies into the retaining wall. More than 80 people are killed in the disaster – including Pierre Levegh himself.
Born in the Moravian town of Neutitschein (Nový Jičín), Alfred Neubauer shapes Mercedes-Benz’s involvement in motor racing as racing manager from the 1920s until 1955. Originally automobile officer of the Austrian army, Neubauer first works as head of the running-in division for Austro-Daimler in Wiener-Neustadt (Austria). In 1923, he changes over to the driving division of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft in Untertürkheim and takes part in some races as a driver – among others in the Targa Florio in Sicily. In 1926, he then appears for the first time as racing manager for Mercedes-Benz. In this capacity he makes a decisive contribution to the numerous victories of the “S” series supercharged vehicles – among other things through the development of strategies and techniques for communication with the pilots. The triumphs of the Silver Arrows in the years 1934 to 1939 and 1954 to 1955 as well as in the sports car races in 1952 and 1955 are all attained under Neubauer’s successful direction.
The successful series of Mercedes-Benz racing cars of the 1930s and 1950s are largely due to Rudolf Uhlenhaut, an ingenious engineer who was responsible for the technical development of the racing cars from 1936 onwards. Uhlenhaut studied mechanical engineering in Munich and joined the testing department of Daimler-Benz AG in Untertürkheim in 1931. As early as 1936, he becomes technical director of the racing department. His first project in this position was to optimize the W 25 Silver Arrow. In the process, Uhlenhaut himself spends many hours at the wheel of the racing car to check progress directly and at racing speed. The result of the development is the W 125, on which Rudolf Caracciola becomes European champion in the fall of 1937. Further Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows were the W 154 (1938) and the “Tripoli car” W 165 (1939). After Mercedes-Benz withdrew from motorsport, he drove one of the two 300 SLR Coupés with road registration as a company car, which thus became known as the “Uhlenhaut Coupé”.
Mass begins his varied career in motor sports in 1968 racing touring cars for Alfa Romeo and as works driver for Ford from 1970 to 1975. In this period he wins the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) in 1972. He also races in Formula 2 (1973) and participates in 105 Formula One Grand Prix events (1973 to 1982). Mass wins the German Sports Car Championship in 1985, and after working as works driver for Porsche until 1987 he becomes works driver in the Sauber-Mercedes team. Until 1991, he races for this team in Group C. In the new Silver Arrow, the Sauber-Mercedes C 9, Jochen Mass, together with Manuel Reuter and Stanley Dickens, wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans competition in 1989, becoming Vice-World Champion that year. Today Jochen Mass is brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz and in that capacity he regularly races at historic racing events.
His pedal-to-the-metal career kicked off in the 1960 Schorndorf Hill Climb. Numerous class victories in various hill climbs and circuit races at the Nuerburgring followed. His career with Daimler-Benz began in 1963 with the overall victory in the Poland Rally in a Mercedes-Benz 220 SE, followed by second places in the Germany Rally (including a class victory) and in the Argentine Touring Car Grand Prix. In the following year he was part of the triple victory by the teams made up of Böhringer/Kaiser, Glemser/Braungart and Rosqvist/Falk in the Argentine Touring Car Grand Prix. With Ford, Dieter Glemser celebrated a European Championship title for touring cars in 1971, a win in the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps and the German Motor Racing Championship in 1973 and 1974. He ended his active motor racing career in November 1974 following a serious crash caused by tyre damage in the touring car race in Macao, south-east China.
Trained as a master automotive mechanic, Roland Asch began his motor racing career as a hobby at first, but achieved victories like a pro: after winning the German Hill Climb Championship in 1981 and the German Motor Racing Trophy in 1983, his début in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) followed in 1985. In 1988, he finished as the runner-up in the DTM championship driving the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3-16 of the BMK team. In the late 1980s, he finished first in the overall standings in the Porsche 944 Turbo Cup three times, and in 1991 won the championship title in the Porsche Carrera Cup. In the early 1990s, he won a total of five victories and delivered a number of other good results in the DTM for Mercedes-Benz. In 1993, he finished as the runner-up in the DTM for the second time, and moved to Ford in the Super Touring Car Cup in 1995. Roland Asch remains very close to Mercedes-Benz as a brand ambassador to this day.
Leading positions in the German Racing Championship and winning it in 1979 and 1981 followed, as did three victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1979, 1984 and 1985. In 1988, he won the DTM on Ford and switched to the AMG Mercedes team in 1989, with which he scored 19 victories in the following five years. The crowning glory of his efforts was the drivers' title in the 1992 and 1994 championships as well as the runner-up spot in 1991.In 1995 and 1996, Ludwig competed in the DTM with Opel Team Rosberg.In 1997 and 1998, Klaus Ludwig drove for Stern again - this time in the FIA GT Championship, whose overall championship he won in 1998 together with Ricardo Zonta. In the first season of the new DTM, he won one of the races in 2000 as the oldest winner to date.
The congenial Finn joined the McLaren-Mercedes team in 1995. Subsequent to a serious accident in Adelaide in 1995, he bounced back in 1996 with a respectable fifth-place finish in the season, opener. In the last race of the 1997 season he chalked up his first win in the Formula One. In 1998 and 1999, Mika Häkkinen was Formula One World Champion with McLaren-Mercedes. All told, he won 20 Grand Prix races. The Finn wound up his Formula One career at the end of the 2001 season.
In 1996, Scotsman David Coulthard went to McLaren-Mercedes where he was on a contract until 2004 and competed in a total of 150 Grand Prix races. With 56 points and third place in the driver’s title scoring, he contributed to the win of the Constructors’ World Championship by McLaren-Mercedes in 1998. Being runnerup in the World Championship of 2001 marked the climax of David Coulthard’s career. In more than a decade of Formula One racing, the Scotsman gathered 13 Grand Prix victories and finished third in the Championship four times.
In his first race for McLaren-Mercedes, in Australia in 2002, Kimi Räikkönen finished third to mount the winner’s rostrum for the first time in the Formula One. He scored his first Formula One victory in the second race of the 2003 season in Malaysia. Räikkönen was runner-up in 2003 and 2005 and won nine Grand Prix races for McLaren-Mercedes. He left the team at the end of 2006.
From earliest youth, Lewis Hamilton has been fostered by Mercedes-Benz and McLaren. Since 2007, he has been under contract to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. He finished third in his first Formula One race, the 2007 Australian Grand Prix. Runnerup in the driver’s title competition in the 2007 season, with four victories to his credit, in 2008, he became the youngest world champion in Formula One history and for this achievement received the very distinguished award, Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE), from the hands of Queen Elizabeth II.
The Australian Grand Prix of 2009 was won by Jenson Button in the first race for the new Mercedes-Benz partner team Brawn GP, now the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One team. Button won six of the first seven races of the season and the World Championship title at the end of the season. The British driver switched to McLaren Mercedes in 2010, proceeding to win his first Grand Prix for the team in the second race of the season, once again the Australian Grand Prix. In 2011, he took second place in the Drivers’ Championship behind World Champion Sebastian Vettel.
In terms of motor racing, Nico Rosberg is following in the footsteps of his father Keke, who won the Formula One World Championship title in 1982. In his very first Grand Prix, in 2006 in Bahrain, Rosberg drove the fastest lap time. However, he then had to wait until his 111th Formula One race for his first Grand Prix win, at the Chinese Grand Prix of 2012. Rosberg led the race in Shanghai in his MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS from pole position to take the chequered flag, so becoming the first works-team Silver Arrow winner of the new era.
Seven-time Formula One Champion Michael Schumacher returned to elite motor racing for the MERCEDES GP PETRONAS Formula One team in 2010 after a three-year absence from the sport. Schumacher remains the most successful Formula One driver of all time, holding the record for the most championship titles, the most wins, the most pole positions and the most fastest lap times. The record-breaking champion was fostered from an early stage of his career by Mercedes-Benz and also drove for the Mercedes-Benz Junior Team in the World Sportscar Championship.
In 1997, Mercedes-Benz signed the promising young driver for the FIA GT Championship as the driver of an AMG-Mercedes CLK-GTR. Tiemann finished the very first season in fourth place in the drivers' championship - level on points with Alessandro Nannini. In 1998 he again competed for Mercedes-Benz in the FIA GT Championship. His five victories in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring, in 2003 on Opel and from 2006 to 2009 four times in succession on Porsche, are legendary. After an accident at the GT Open in Imola on Audi in May 2010, which was not his fault, Tiemann had to end his active racing career. He is one of the most successful endurance drivers of his time, finishing on the podium in at least every third of his recent races and in the top five in two-thirds of them.