“Lucky Hans”: Hans Herrmann is celebrating his 90th birthday.
Mercedes-Benz works driver.
On 23 February 2018, the motor racing legend Hans Herrmann will reach the age of 90. In February Mercedes-Benz and Porsche will hold a birthday party in his honour at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Centre in Fellbach. Herrmann achieved International fame as a Mercedes-Benz works driver in 1954 and 1955. As an up-and-coming young driver, he competed for the brand in the successful Silver Arrows of that period, the W 196 R Formula 1 racing car and the 300 SLR (W 196 S) racing sports car.
Mille Miglia, 1 May 1955. Starting preparations in Brescia, Italy. Hans Herrmann at the wheel and co-driver Hermann Eger (start number 704) in their Mercedes-Benz300 SLR (W 196 S) racing sports car. On the right of the picture, Mercedes-Benz racing manager Alfred Neubauer.
Racing driver Hans Herrmann preparing for the start of the Berlin Grand Prix on the AVUS circuit on 19 September 1954.
The telephone rings.
Summer 1953. The telephone rings in Hans Herrmann's home. “This is Neubauer at Daimler-Benz. Listen, how would you like to come and see us for a trial run?”, the unmistakable voice intones. At just 25 years of age, Herrmann is amazed and unable to say anything. “Well what about it?”, shouts the legendary racing manager Alfred Neubauer. The young racing driver just about manages to stammer “Er, ok!”. “Good, come to Nürburgring tomorrow.” There is a click on the line and the conversation is over – but marks the start of Hans Herrmann's career at Mercedes-Benz.
Hot prospect amongst the coming generation of drivers.
At the time Hans Herrmann was regarded as a hot prospect amongst the coming generation of drivers. He had just completed a successful racing season, with places in the front rank in e.g. the Mille Miglia and the 24-hour race in Le Mans. And now he was being invited to take part in test drives: Mercedes-Benz was preparing for its re-entry into the top echelon in motorsport, Formula 1, in the 1954 season. During the test drives at Nürburgring with the 300 SL racing sports car (W 194), Herrmann already proved the second-fastest on the first day – in a field of much more experienced racing drivers. On the second day he drove the fastest lap
Further test drives followed in Monza, and the verdict was clear: The young man from Stuttgart joined the works team alongside Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling. Neubauer's assessment at the time was as follows: “Herrmann is definitely a natural, and has great endurance as a driver.” At the French Grand Prix in Reims on 4 July 1954, the new Silver Arrows celebrated their debut. Fangio and Kling achieved a resounding double victory. Herrmann crowned his successful racing debut with the fastest lap time: 2:32.9 minutes corresponded to an average speed of 195.463 km/h.
Argentinean Touring Car Grand Prix, 26 October to 5 November 1961. The driver team Hans Herrmann / Rainer Günzler (start number 527) with a Mercedes-Benz 220 SE (W 111) at the start. Herrmann / Günzler achieved second place in the overall ranking.
Closely associated with the brand.
During that season Hans Herrmann achieved two rostrum places in Grand Prix races: in both the 1954 Swiss Grand Prix and the 1954 Avus race he finished in 3rd place. Mercedes-Benz continued to engage the young racing driver for the 1955 season, but now not only in Formula 1, but also for international sports car races with the 300 SLR (W 196 S). Stirling Moss, who was only a little younger than Hans Herrmann, joined the racing team as a new member for the 1955 season. But in May 1955 Herrmann had a stroke of bad luck with an accident during practice in Monaco: he was injured so seriously that he was unable to compete for the rest of the season.
After the end of his Mercedes-Benz commitment for Formula 1 and sports car racing, “Lucky Hans” as he was known to his friends remained closely associated with the brand. Among other events he took part in the 1961 Argentinean Road Grand Prix at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz 220 SE (W 111), taking second place and completing a double victory with the winner, Walter Schock, who likewise drove a 220 SE.
A versatile motor racing talent.
Born in Stuttgart on 28 February 1928, born in Stuttgart, Hans Herrmann began his motorsport career in 1952 in the Hessian Winter Rally, driving a private Porsche 356. In the same year he won a class victory in the Germany Rally. In 1953 and 1954, driving a Porsche, Herrmann won class victories in the legendary “Mille Miglia” 1000-mile race in Italy.
Taking part in Formula 1 and Formula 2 Grand Prix races, sports car races and rallies, Herrmann showed himself to be an enormously versatile racing driver. Apart from Mercedes-Benz, he particularly competed in racing and sports cars from Porsche. He also raced at the wheel of B.R.M., Cooper, Maserati and Veritas racing cars.
Herrmann achieved his greatest successes in long-distance sports car races. These included his overall victories in the Targa Florio (1960), the 24-hour race in Daytona (1968) and the 24-hour race in Le Mans (1970). In 2012 Herrmann was honoured by the town of Collesano for taking part in the Targa Florio eight times. A matter of honour: the former works driver arrived for the ceremony at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz300 SLR racing sports car.
Having crowned his racing career with victory at Le Mans in 1970, Hans Herrmann retired from active motor racing at the height of his career in the same year. Above all he devoted his further attention to his company dealing in car accessories. Nonetheless he is still closely associated with motorsport – also as a brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz Classic.
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