On the trail of Bertha Benz.
17 years and 38 hp: ready for the 125th anniversary.
“Oh Lord, she is a little girl!” was a phrase often heard at one such event a few years back. It was the day on which Theresa Unnold was able to accompany her grandparents for the very first time as part of the Bertha Benz Challenge. At the time only 10 years of age, she avidly took in all of the new impressions: the vast numbers of unknown faces, the unusual vehicles, the smell of petrol which she so loved. The most interesting aspect, however, remained the sequence of events. Her grandmother promised her: “As soon as you get your driving licence, we’ll form a women’s team and drive the route together.” From that day on, Theresa never missed a Bertha Benz Challenge. “And this year, my time had come,” said the smiling 17-year-old who has only just received her driving licence. At the 125th anniversary of this legendary and pioneering journey, Theresa Unnold sat behind the steering wheel of the “Stuttgart”, a Mercedes-Benz 8/38 hp from 1928.
Jumping over her own shadow.
Despite having known the “Stuttgart” from her grandparent’s garage since childhood, the excitement was so high that she could hardly eat on the night before the big day. After all, despite all the training runs in her favourite classic car, she’d never driven for such a long time in one go. But, the longer she sat behind the steering wheel of the “Stuttgart”, the more calm she became. From Mannheim onwards, she drove much more confidently. She places particular importance on jumping over her own shadow from time to time in order to achieve something: “Bertha Benz,” Theresa explained, “is a great role model for me. That’s precisely why I was so very proud to be one of only a handful of women behind the wheel here.” And rightfully so, too: she is now the proud owner of a certificate stating her as being the youngest participant ever to take part in the event. And that despite this year continually hearing: “My gosh, hasn’t she grown up!”