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  • Legendary racing driver Hans Herrmann at his birthday party held at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center Fellbach.
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    Retrospect: Birthday party of legendary racing driver Hans Herrmann.

    Hans Herrmann celebrated his 90th birthday on 23 February 2018 in the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Fellbach. The talk frequently turned to “Lucky Hans”: an expression that was to be formative for the former factory driver of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.

Some 100 well-wishers.

At the mention of “Lucky Hans”, some people think about a restaurant chain, while others are reminded of the eponymous Stuttgart fountain, which takes its name from a fairytale character. However, motor sport fans with some years behind them will know immediately: the name can refer only to Hans Herrmann. The motor racing legend owed his nickname to a number of hair-raising incidents, which were discussed at length during the birthday party in the Classic Center. The round-number celebration was organised jointly by Porsche and Mercedes-Benz. Some 100 well-wishers were present, including many prominent guests.

Dieter Zetsche wishes Hans Herrmann well.

Dieter Zetsche wishes Hans Herrmann well.

Anecdotes, stories, legends: enough topics of conversation for family, friends, companions and former colleagues.

Anecdotes, stories, legends: enough topics of conversation for family, friends, companions and former colleagues.

Lucky on more than one occasion.

Christian Boucke, Director of Mercedes-Benz Classic, welcomed the guests and presided over the evening’s programme. The speakers included Dieter Zetsche, Jürgen Hubbert and Frank-Steffen Walliser (director of Motorsport Porsche AG), who praised the former factory driver and present-day brand ambassador of the two Stuttgart-based automotive brands.

It is in fact the case that Herrmann, who, in the Silver Arrows era in 1955 and 1956, drove for Mercedes-Benz alongside Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss, was lucky on more than one occasion. One such unforgettable event was his accident on the Berlin Avus in 1959, in which Herrmann was thrown out of his overturning formula car and, to everyone’s surprise, walked away with just some minor injuries.

Railway crossing closed? No reason to stop!

Equally spectacular was his cavalier driving style in the 1954 Mille Miglia: approaching a closed railway crossing in their Porsche 550 Spyder, Herrmann and co-driver Herbert Linge were unable to brake in time, ducked their heads and simply raced through under the barrier. Luck – yes, Hans had his share, which was essential for survival in those often heroically romanticised days. That was because the familiar safety standards of today’s racing world were something that drivers in the 1950s to 1970s could only dream of. “Russian roulette” was how Frank-Steffen Walliser described the motor sport of that era. The birthday gift presented to Herrmann was in perfect keeping with his nickname: a racing driver’s overall in the style of the times, snappily embroidered with the words “Lucky Hans”.

Anecdotes, stories, legends: enough topics of conversation for family, friends, companions and former colleagues, such as the former racing drivers Roland Asch, Dieter Glemser, Herbert Linge, Eberhard Mahle and Kurt Ahrens. On the evening in question, Hans Herrmann chose to interpret the word “luck” in a highly personal way by finishing his short speech of thanks with a declaration of love to his wife Madeleine and a large bouquet of flowers.

More about “Lucky Hans”