1955: record victory on Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR

  • Mille Miglia opens the door to a return to motor racing

  • That day, I started to feel young again”.

    Following the end of World War II, Mercedes-Benz returned to motorsport in 1952 with the newly developed 300 SL racing sports car (W 194). The first race appearance for the 300 SL, with its distinctive gullwing doors, was at the Mille Miglia. On 3 May 1952, there were three 300 SLs on the starting line in Brescia. On 4 May, Karl Kling and Hans Klenk finished in second place, with Rudolf Caracciola and co-driver Paul Kurrle following in fourth. Mercedes-Benz thus was the only manufacturer to finish with two vehicles in the top five in 1952. For racing manager Alfred Neubauer a dream was coming true. “That day, I started to feel young again,” the racing director later recalled.

    This success was followed in 1955 by the second overall victory in the Mille Miglia by Mercedes-Benz with the 300 SLR racing sports car (W 196 S). Stirling Moss and his co-driver, Denis Jenkinson, won the thousand-mile race with an average speed of 157.65 km/h and the fastest time ever recorded of 10:07:48 hours. An all-time record. Second place belonged to Juan Manuel Fangio, who had entered as a solo driver, making for the perfect one-two. Mille Miglia success was not just the realm of the 300 SLR racers in 1955, with 300 SL (W 198) production sports cars also enjoying outstanding results that year: The team of John Fitch/Kurt Gessl were victorious in the Gran Turismo class for over 1600 cc, followed by their teammates Olivier Gendebien/Jacques Washer and Salvatore Casella (Places 5, 7 and 10 overall). And another extraordinary victory mustn’t be forgotten when talking about the success of Mercedes-Benz in 1955: in the new created diesel category Helmut Retter/Wolfgang Larcher, Karl Reinhardt/Wulf Wisnewski as well as Arturo Masera/Pasquale Cardinali get the first three places on the 40 hp (29 kW) Mercedes-Benz 180 D.