Mercedes-Benz Classic On Display at the Goodwood Revival 2011

Words John Clark | September 09, 2011
Mercedes-Benz Classic celebrates 100 years since the birth of Juan Manuel Fangio at the Goodwood Revival
Words John Clark September 09, 2011

No other brand dominated the golden age of classic grand-prix racing in the mid-20th century in the same way as the Silver Arrows from Mercedes-Benz. Juan Manuel Fangio was the driver who best embodied the racing outfit’s strength after the Second World War. The Goodwood Revival 2011, near Chichester/West Sussex, in September will be reliving this heyday as it marks the centenary of Fangio’s birth.

The prestigious British festival, held over three days every autumn (September 16-18, 2011), recreates an epoch that stretched from the 1940s to the 1960s. It offers an exclusive, atmospheric setting for Mercedes-Benz Classic’s tribute to Juan Manuel Fangio (born June 24, 1911, died July 17, 1995), who would have turned 100 this year.

The highlights of the Revival will include demonstration laps by famous racing drivers in the Mercedes-Benz vehicles with which Fangio wrote motor sport history in the 1954 and 1955 seasons. Besides notching up major success in various sports car races, the Argentine became Formula 1 world champion in both those years.

Mercedes-Benz Classic has put together an illustrious field of drivers and vehicles for the event. Among the drivers taking to the classic track, where races were held between 1948 and 1966, will be Juan Manuel Fangio II. The nephew of the legendary world champion will be driving the Mercedes-Benz W 196 R, a Formula 1 racing car with a streamlined body from 1954.

Sir Stirling Moss and Hans Herrmann, team mates of Fangio during the Silver Arrows’ post-war era, will also be remembering the five-time Formula 1 champion, two times on Mercedes-Benz. At the Revival, Moss will take the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR (W 196 S) racing car from 1955. It was in this vehicle that Fangio won the Eifelrennen and the Swedish Grand Prix in 1955 as well as achieving second place in the Mille Miglia (without a co-driver) and in the Tourist Trophy and Targa Florio (both with Karl Kling). Stirling Moss won the 1955 Mille Miglia together with co-driver Denis Jenkinson also in a W 196 S, in a minimum time unbeaten until today.

Herrmann will be driving a 1954 Mercedes-Benz W 196 R with open wheels. In 1954 and 1955, Fangio raced to nine victories in both versions of the W 196 R (including the Grand Prix of Buenos Aires with a three-litre engine), came second twice and took one third place, enabling him to win the world championship in both years.

The Goodwood Revival is the ideal occasion for Mercedes-Benz Classic to commemorate the charismatic driver Fangio. Charles Gordon-Lennox, Earl of March and Kinrara, has been hosting the Goodwood Revival since 1998 – as ‘A time capsule of the golden era of motor racing’. According to British racing legend Sir Stirling Moss: ‘The Revival is an event which is unique in the world.’

The Revival naturally centres on the races, such as the celebrity races featuring well-known racing drivers from various classes of motor sport who will be driving various two- and four-wheeled vehicles. This category is made up of the St Mary’s Trophy, the Royal Automobile Club TT Celebration and the Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy. The sports car races consist of the Whitsun Trophy, the Fordwater Trophy, the Madgwick Cup, the Freddie March Memorial Trophy and the Sussex Trophy. Classic single seaters will line up for the Goodwood Trophy, the Earl of March Trophy, the Chichester Cup, the Richmond Trophy and the Glover Trophy.

An extensive, wide-ranging programme of accompanying events enables visitors to imagine themselves in the 1940s to 1960s. These include classic car auctions and exhibitions, an air show, a supermarket selling products harking back to decades long gone plus a traditional fairground. Race participants and most of the visitors to the Revival dress in period clothing, contributing to the extraordinary atmosphere of the weekend.

Goodwood Revival 2011: Driver Portrayals

Juan Manuel Fangio

  • born: 24 June 1911
  • died: 17 July 1995

Juan Manuel Fangio was the most important Mercedes-Benz racing driver in 1954 and 1955. Born in 1911 in Balcarce, the Argentinian’s initial experience of long-distance racing was in his home country and it was not until 1951 that he first sat at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz grand prix racing car. Yet his success was not confined to Formula 1 (world champion in 1951 and from 1954 to 1957 in succession), for Fangio also helped Mercedes-Benz to win the 1955 World Sportscar Championship, in which, driving a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR, he finished second in the 1955 Mille Miglia behind his team colleague Stirling Moss. The exceptional thing about it was that Fangio drove the 1000 miles without a co-driver. Having ended his racing career, he became president of Mercedes-Benz Argentina S.A. He died in 1995 in Buenos Aires.

Juan Manuel Fangio II

  • born: 19 September 1956

Juan Manuel Fangio II bears a famous name. The nephew of five- time Formula 1 world champion Juan Manuel Fangio, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday in 2011, he inherited his uncle’s passion for motor sports. Fangio II grew up in close contact with several world-famous motor sports legends. Unlike his uncle, Fangio II spent the majority of his active racing career in North America. His successes included two wins in the 12 Hours of Sebring and victory in the IMSA GT Championship in 1992 and 1993, in the course of which he also set the record of 19 individual victories and won two manufacturers’ titles. In addition, Fangio raced in Formula 3000, the CART Championship and the American Le Mans Series. Juan Manuel Fangio II, whose career as a professional racing driver spanned the years from 1985 to 1997, lives in Balcarce (Argentina), the birthplace of his uncle. In 2011, he drove the Mille Miglia for Mercedes-Benz Classic, in team with Mika Häkkinen and in a type 300 SLR (W 196 S) in which his uncle in 1955 came on second place in that road race.

Hans Herrmann

  • born: 23 February 1928 in Stuttgart

After his motor sport debut, Mercedes-Benz racing manager Alfred Neubauer brought 25-year-old Hans Herrmann to the works team of Daimler-Benz AG at the start of the 1954 season. Herrmann finished in third place in the Swiss Grand Prix on 22 August 1954. Driving three W 196 Streamline racing cars, the Mercedes drivers finished the Avus race in Berlin on 19 September 1954 with a triple victory in the order Karl Kling, Juan Manuel Fangio, Hans Herrmann. During the 1955 racing season, Herrmann started a total of eight sports car races and ten Formula 1 races. In the Monaco Grand Prix he sat in for Kling and suffered serious injuries in an accident. Despite a full recovery he did not race for Mercedes-Benz again because the company withdrew from motor sport in October 1955. This marked the end of Herrmann’s engagement for Mercedes-Benz. In the following years he returned to racing car and sports car competitions. After racing in Formula 2 and Formula 1 he retired from racing in 1970 with a victory in the 24-hour race of Le Mans driving a Porsche. Herrmann continues to start for Mercedes-Benz in events with historical character to the present day.

Sir Stirling Moss

  • born: 17 September 1929 in London/England

His racing colleagues liked to refer to Sir Stirling Moss as an exceptional talent. Motor racing seems to have been something he was born with because motor cars accompanied him from his early childhood days through his parents, motor sport enthusiasts and themselves actively engaged in motor sport. At age 19 he won his first race, a few years later he was already racing in Formula 1. In 1955, he joined the Mercedes-Benz team and competed in all important events. Driving a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR (W 196 S) he won the Mille Miglia in May 1955 in a fabulous record time of 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds, a record no one was ever able to break. He also won the Targa Florio driving the 300 SLR. In July he won the British Grand Prix in Aintree/England, just edging out Juan Manuel Fangio. It was his first Formula 1 victory and it was to remain his only one driving a Silver Arrow because Mercedes-Benz withdrew from motor sport at the end of the season. His string of successes continued in subsequent years, several times missing the world championship title by a hair’s breadth. A severe accident forced him to retire from racing in 1962. He still, however, has a connection with Mercedes-Benz because he repeatedly participates for the brand in classic events. Stirling Moss’s name at the same time stands for a move of the racing industry toward more professionalism: he was the first driver to have his own manager as far back as the early 1950s.

The vehicles from Mercedes-Benz at the Goodwood Revival 2011

  • Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR (W 196 S), 1955

Mercedes-Benz won the sports car world championship with the 300 SLR in 1955. This sports car is essentially a Formula 1 W 196 racing car provided with a two-seater racing car body – but with a three-litre eight-cylinder in-line engine in light alloy instead of the 2.5-litre Formula 1 engine with steel cylinders. Rated at 300 hp (221 kW), the 300 SLR outperformed its rivals, scooping double victories in the Mille Miglia, the Eifel Race, the Swedish Grand Prix and the Targa Florio. In winning the Mille Miglia, Stirling Moss and co-driver Denis Jenkinson clocked up an average speed of 157.65 km/h (97.96 mph) – a feat that remains unsurpassed to this day. A useful aid in this race was the ‘prayer book’ – a new type of itinerary with crucial notes which Jenkinson drew up to guide driver Moss around the course. Juan Manuel Fangio, competing without a co-driver, came in second. In Sweden and in the 24-hour Le Mans race, the 300 SLRs caused a surprise with the so-called air brake – a panel measuring 0.7 square metres in size which the driver could open up over the rear axle to boost the braking effect. In Le Mans, Mercedes-Benz withdrew the 300 SLR following an accident suffered by Belgian driver Pierre Levegh through no fault of his own while he was in the leading position.

  • Mercedes-Benz W 196 R, 1954/1955

The Mercedes-Benz W 196 R Formula 1 racing car built for the 1954 season met all the requirements of the new Grand Prix formula defined by the CSI (Commission Spor tive Inter na ti o na le): displacement 750 cc with or 2500 cc without compressor, any fuel composition, racing distance 300 kilometres but at least three hours. The streamlined version was the first to be produced, as the opening race in Reims permitted very high speeds. A variant with free-standing wheels was subsequently produced. For its second season in 1955, this classic grand prix car was also available with shorter wheelbases: in addition to the 2350 millimetre long car from 1954, there were also variants with a wheelbase of 2150 and 2210 millimetres. The shortest variant was ideal for the narrow, winding circuit through Monaco. The space frame was light and robust, the chassis with torsion bar suspension and a new single-joint swing axle at the rear plus giant turbo-cooled duplex disc brakes which were initially fitted in an inside central position was as accomplished as it was unconventional. The car was powered by an eight-cylinder in-line engine (2496 cc) with direct injection and desmodromic (positive-controlled, without valve springs) valves (1954: 256 hp/188 kW at 8260 rpm, 1955: 290 hp/213 kW at 8500 rpm). The engine unit was mounted in the latticework frame at an incline of 53 degrees to the right, in order to lower the centre of gravity and to reduce the size of the frontal area. The top speed was over 300 km/h (186.42 mph).