Tag Archives: Neubauer

All Time Greatest One-Two – Mercedes Benz 300 SLR # no.3

Due to strained financial circumstances at the Mercedes Benz factory Rudolf Caracciola and Wilhelm Sebastian had only a privately entered Mercedes Benz SSKL with Mercedes approval at there disposal when they became the first foreign team in the first foreign car to win the 1931 Mille Miglia and the first to ever do so at an average speed of over 100 km per hour.

When Mercedes Benz returned to the event in 1955 they left nothing to chance sending a team of 60 technicians based at their event headquarters with spares and sufficient for their four 300 SLR entries.

Mercedes Benz 300SLR, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

Team manager Alfred Neubauer insisted each of the drivers were to drive the 1000 mile course a minimum of five times in preparation for the event, Karl Kling is believed to have driven at least 30,000 miles in his preparations.

Following the death of his co driver Daniel Urrutia in 1948 while competing in Peru Juan Manuel Fangio never drove in a competitive event with a co driver again, and so Juan made his own preparations for the 1955 Mille Miglia driving a FIAT 1100.

Mercedes Benz 300SLR, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

Before the first six hours of the race had been completed both Karl Kling driving solo and the Hans Herrmann / Hermann Eger crewed 300SLR’s had crashed out of the race.

However Stirling Moss aided by directions from 1949 World Champion Motor Cylce side car passenger Denis Jenkinson, who had meticulously made course notes on 15 feet of paper all carefully rolled into a device devised for bomber command during WW2 came home winners covering the 1,000 miles 6 hours faster than Caricciola in just over 10 hours at a record average speed just short of 100 mph, having covered the stretch from Cremona to Brescia at just under 124 mph.

Mercedes Benz 300SLR, Stirling Moss, Goodwood Revival,

In second place 31m 45 seconds behind the winning #722 came Juan in today’s featured #658 chassis # no.3 despite the fact his eight cylinder 3 litre / 183 cui engine was only firing on 7 cylinders to complete in my humble opinion one of the all time greatest 1-2 finishes in all of sports car racing.

28 days after finishing the Mille Miglia Juan stepped back in to # no.3 to drive it to victory in the Eifelrennen at the Nürburgring.

Mercedes Benz 300SLR, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

In August 1955 having wrapped up his third World Formula One championship due to the cancellation of several Grand Prix in the wake of the 1955 Le Mans disaster Juan drove # no.3 for a third time to with the Swedish Grand Prix run for sports cars.

Wolfgang von Trips, André Simon and Karl Kling all drove this car in the Tourist Trophy in September 1955 run at Dundrod to complete a 1-2-3 victory behind the sister cars driven by Stirling sharing with John Fitch and the second placed car driven by Juan and Karl.

Finally in October 1955 Juan and Karl teamed up again this time to drive # no.3 in the Targa Florio to finish second behind the sister 300SLR driven by Moss and Peter Collins.

Stirling Moss is seen in the photograph above demonstrating #658 at the Goodwood Revival a couple of years ago and the connecting rod seen above was a gift from Mercedes Benz to Denis Jenkinson and comes from the Mille Miglia winning #722.

Thanks for joining me on this “All Time Greatest One-Two” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me for Mazda Monday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Elektron Desmodromic Fuel Injection – Mercedes Benz W196 #000 08/54

While making plans for Mercedes Benz re entry into the top echelon of Motorsport in the 1954 season team manager Alfred Neubauer chose 1951 World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio as his de facto Number 1 driver.

Mercedes Benz were late turning up for the show in 1954 and Neubauer allowed Fangio to race in the 1954 Argentinian and Belgian Grand Prix which he promptly won.

Mercedes Benz W196, Goodwood Festival of Speed

At the French Grand Prix Mercedes Benz showed up with three streamlined cars that were powered by 257hp straight 8 motors with desmodromic valves, that were positively closed by a cam activated lever as opposed to a valve spring and direct fuel injection developed from the Mercedes Benz DB601 inverted V12 engines used in the fearsome Messerschmitt Bf 109E fighter plane.

The body and chassis made use of the light but highly flammable Elektron magnesium alloys, perhaps the only surprise was that W196 streamliners did not follow the latest aircraft technology by using the latest in disc brakes instead opting to use massive inboard mounted drum brakes.

Mercedes Benz W196, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Fangio led home team mate Karl Kling in an emphatic show of strength though the third car driven by Hans Hermann, seen driving the #10 below, retired with engine problems.

The British Grand Prix at Silverstone showed up the draw back of the streamlined body work when Fangio could not position the car accurately to avoid hitting the concrete filled oil drums that marked the inside of the course and as a consequence Juan could only finish fourth behind two Ferrari’s and a Maserati.

Mercedes Benz W196, Hans Hermann, Goodwood Revival

For the German Grand Prix Mercedes Benz built an open wheel car for Juan, the streamliners henceforth would only appear at Monza in 1954 and ’55, and he went on a three race winning streak in Germany, Switzerland and Italy enough to claim the 1954 World Drivers Championship.

Today’s featured W196 chassis #000 08/54 was the last W196 to be completed in 1954 and was finished in time for Fangio to drive it in the season ending Spanish Grand Prix where he qualified 2nd behind the debutant Lancia D50 driven by Alberto Ascari and finished 3rd after slowing his pace due to an oil leak.

Mercedes Benz W196, Goodwood Festival of Speed

At the non championship 1955 Gran Premio Ciudad de Buenos Aires Karl Kling drove this car to a second place finish behind team leader Fangio.

Fangio scored chassis #000 08/54’s only win at the 1955 Belgian Grand Prix which along with three more wins on his way to securing his third World Drivers Championship title.

Mercedes Benz W196, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Hans Hermann seen driving today’s featured car at a Goodwood Revival Meeting a few years ago, when he was 82, scored a career best third place finish in the 1954 Swiss Grand Prix he continued driving Formula one cars sporadically until 1961 a year after falling out of his BRM P25 at the German Grand Prix.

1970 Hans retired from motor racing aged 42 after driving the winning Porsche 917 in the 1970 Le Mans 24 hours with Richard Attwood.

Thanks for joining me on this “Elektron Desmodromic Fuel Injection” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be taking a look at a Prototype Maserati. Don’t forget to come back now !