Great moments of motorsport retracing the legendary thousand-mile race
It is one of the most fascinating events on four wheels: as an automotive sponsor of the race, Mercedes-Benz will once more field a large contingent of vehicles and famous drivers at the “ 1000 Miglia” 2018. This year, the “1000 Miglia” will take place from 16 to 19 May 2018. The close ties between the thousand-mile race in Italy held since 1927 and the brand bearing the three-pointed star go back almost 90 years.
Over nine decades, Mercedes-Benz has achieved numerous successes at the Italian “Mille Miglia” road race from Brescia to Rome and back. The greatest successes include the victory of Rudolf Caracciola as the first non-Italian driver in 1931, and the sensational success of Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson in 1955, with the overall victory and a still unbeaten record time of 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds.
Based on the historical ties, Mercedes-Benz supports the “Mille Miglia” as an automotive sponsor. Since 1977, the event has been held as a regularity rally for historic automobiles. The Stuttgart-based brand continues the partnership with the organisers in 2018 as well. Mercedes-Benz will be present at the starting and finishing line in Brescia, along the some 1,600-kilometre route and in the competition itself with a host of vehicles from the corporate collection.
In 2018, a large contingent of the Mercedes-Benz models SSK (W 06), 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198), 190 SL (W 121) and 220 “Ponton” (W 180) vehicles will be lining up at the start in Brescia. Among others, Mercedes-Benz Classic brand ambassadors Roland Asch, Ellen Lohr, Bernd Mayländer and Bernd Schneider will be at the wheel of the vehicles.
Today’s version of the “1000 Miglia” is run on a route which closely follows that of the original road race. This year, the first stage (16 May 2018) will lead from Brescia to Cervia-Milano Marittima, and then on to Rome on the second day (17 May). The route to Parma is on the agenda on the third day (18 May), before the rally returns to Brescia on the fourth day (19 May). Entry is restricted to vehicle models that already participated in the famous Italian road race during the period from 1927 to 1957.
Museo Mille Miglia: Public starting ramp with famous racing cars
The ties between the brand and the racing tradition are also underlined by the cooperation between Mercedes-Benz Classic and the Museo Mille Miglia in the historical monastery complex of Sant’ Eufemia della Fonte just outside Brescia. This year, Mercedes-Benz is putting on an extraordinary special exhibition in the courtyard of the museum: every visitor can drive his vehicle on a starting ramp as is typical for the Mille Miglia. He can position his vehicle for a photo between two famous Mercedes-Benz racing cars which caused a sensation at the Mille Miglia with their successes: the 300 SL racing sports car (W 194) from 1952 (2nd and 4th place) and the 300 SLR (W 196 S) from 1955 (1st and 2nd place). This staging can be seen and used from 10 May to 21 June 2018.
Mercedes-Benz “1000 Miglia Challenge 2018”
The regularity rally through the heart of Italy is one of the most exciting events globally in the automotive classic world. Apart from the actual competition, this is also down to programme items such as the Mercedes-Benz “1000 Miglia Challenge 2018”. This exclusive regularity rally takes place to commemorate the great triumphs of the Mercedes-Benz brand in the original competition.
The participants in the Mercedes-Benz “1000 Miglia Challenge” will drive ahead of the classic cars on the same route and will compete in the same special stages. Vehicles permitted to take part in the Challenge are Mercedes-Benz SL models of various generations and vehicles from Mercedes-AMG plus models of particular historical value from the product history.
Historical ties between “Mille Miglia” and Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz and the “Mille Miglia” are very closely linked through their shared history. The German brand has taken part since 1930 and thus almost since the very first running of the race. At this début event, works driver Rudolf Caracciola with his co-driver Christian Werner immediately took 6th place with a Mercedes-Benz SSK (“Super Sport Short”). One year later Caracciola won the 1931 Mille Miglia as the first non-Italian driver with his co-driver Wilhelm Sebastian in a Mercedes-Benz SSKL (“Super Sport Short Light”).
In 1952, the thousand-mile race then provided the arena for the première of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing sports car (W 194), the brand’s first newly developed racing car following the Second World War. In 1955 Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson drove the 300 SLR racing sports car (W 196 S) to overall victory ahead of their team mate Juan Manuel Fangio. Also triumphant were the 300 SL “Gullwing” sports cars (W 198) in the Gran Turismo class over 1,300 cc displacement, and the 180 D (W 120) won a victory in the diesel class. In 1956, in addition to several 300 SL “Gullwing” cars and three luxury class saloons of the 220 “Ponton” (W 180) model, a privately entered Mercedes-Benz 190 SL (W 121) also competed successfully in the race.
“1000 Miglia” 2018: The brand ambassadors of Mercedes-Benz Classic
Born 12 October 1950 in Altingen, Germany
Trained originally as a master automotive technician, Roland Asch initially began his motor racing career as a hobby, but soon began to post victories like a professional: wins in the German Hill Climb Championship of 1981 and the German Motor Racing Trophy in 1983 were followed by his début in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) in 1985. In 1988, he finished DTM runner-up, driving his own Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3-16. In the late 1980s he came first three times in the overall ratings in the Porsche 944 Turbo Cup, and in 1991 won the championship title in the Porsche Carrera Cup. Five wins for Mercedes-Benz in the early 1990s head the list of his various good finishes in the DTM. In 1993, he finished runner-up in the DTM for the second time, and moved to Ford in the Super Touring Car Cup in 1995. As a brand ambassador, Roland Asch has close ties to the Mercedes-Benz brand to this day and can regularly be seen behind the wheel of important racing cars from the Mercedes-Benz Classic collection during events.
Born 12 April 1965 in Mönchengladbach, Germany
Ellen Lohr came to motorsport from karting, in which she was active from 1979 to 1983. Her greatest triumphs were her participation in the Junior Karting World Championship, along with a first place in the Northwest German Regional Karting Championship. After competing in the German Formula Ford 1600 series (German Champion in 1987) and first races in the DTM (BMW) and the German Formula 3 Championship with VW in 1989/90, she was signed up by the AMG-Mercedes team for the German Touring Car Championship. Ellen Lohr is the first and only woman to date to have achieved a DTM victory, which she won in May 1992 at the motor racing festival in Hockenheim at the wheel of an AMG-Mercedes 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II. For the 1995 season, she moved to the Mercedes-Zakspeed team, and in 1996 drove for the AMG-Mercedes Persson MS team. In 1997, she competed in the European Truck Racing Championship at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz racing truck. From that time on, Ellen Lohr has continued to be actively involved in numerous other racing series, including the Paris–Dakar Rally since 2005 and again in truck racing since 2012.
Born 29 May 1971 in Waiblingen, Germany
Bernd Mayländer makes regular appearances in Formula One at the front of the field. That’s because the racing driver, born in Waiblingen in 1971, has since 2000 been the official driver of the Mercedes-Benz Formula One Safety Car – currently a Mercedes-AMG GT S (C 190). Mayländer began racing in 1990, first taking part in the Porsche Club Sport, Porsche Carrera Cup (overall victory in 1994) and Porsche Super Cup, as well as in long-distance races. Driving for the Persson Motorsport team, from 1995 he participated initially in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) and the International Touring Car Championship (ITC), and from 1997 in the FIA GT Championship driving an AMG-Mercedes CLK-GTR. In 1997, together with Klaus Ludwig and Bernd Schneider, he won the race in Spielberg in an AMG-Mercedes CLK-GTR. In 2000 he was victorious in the 24 Hours Nürburgring at the wheel of a Porsche 996 GT3. Bernd Mayländer contested his final DTM season in 2004 as a member of the Rosberg team driving a Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Born 20 July 1964 in St. Ingbert, Germany
Five DTM titles, 226 races in Mercedes-Benz racing touring cars as well as 102 podium finishes, making him the most successful driver of the championship series: Bernd Schneider is rightly known as “Mr DTM”. Although he has been competing in this racing series for around twenty years, his career began much earlier and also included other titles. He posted his first victories in karting and Formula 3. He also competed in Formula One, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA GT Championship, which he won in 1997. Yet his finest stage was the DTM, where he celebrated his most glorious triumphs. From 1992, Schneider drove for AMG-Mercedes and won the 1995 German Touring Car Championship for the team, having finished third in the overall classification in both 1992 and 1993. After DTM was recast as the German Touring Car Masters in 2000, Schneider won the title in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2006. He also finished runner-up in 2002. In 2008, he announced his retirement from DTM and contested his last race on 26 October 2008 at the Hockenheimring. Following on from this magnificent career, from 2010 until 2014 Bernd Schneider competed in the Mercedes-AMG customer sports programme, again posting one victory after another. In addition, Bernd Schneider passes on his expert knowledge to Mercedes-Benz customers as an instructor at the AMG Driving Academy and is also active as a test driver and brand ambassador for Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-Benz Classic.
“1000 Miglia” 2018: Mercedes-Benz Classic vehicles
Mercedes-Benz SSK (W 06, 1928)
Of the six-cylinder supercharged, high-performance sports cars in the Mercedes-Benz S-Series, the SSK (W 06) was the most exclusive and fascinating model. The model designation of this supercharged car with a 7.1-litre six-cylinder engine stood for Super-Sport Kurz (Super Sport Short) and featured a shorter wheelbase alongside its particular sportiness. Following numerous victories achieved by the Model S as the first model in the series, the succeeding SS and SSK models continued the success story: in the summer of 1928, works racing driver Rudolf Caracciola won the Gabelbach Race on the first attempt as well as the races to the top of the Schauinsland Mountain and Mont Ventoux with the brand-new SSK. In 1930, he won the European hill racing championship driving an SSK. In that same year, the supercharged sports car also took part in the Mille Miglia for the first time. Rudolf Caracciola and Christian Werner took sixth place in the overall classification with a driving time of 17 hours and 20 minutes. With reduced weight and another power increase to 220 kW (300 hp), the 1931 version, also known as the SSKL (Super Sport Short Light), achieved a spectacular success in the Mille Miglia: In April 1931, Rudolf Caracciola was the first non-Italian to win this demanding road race from Brescia to Rome and back – in a new record time of 16 hours and 10 minutes.
Technical data of the Mercedes-Benz SSK (production version)
Production period: 1928 to 1932
Displacement: 7,065 cc
Output: 125 kW (170 hp), with supercharger 165 kW (225 hp)
Top speed: 192 km/h
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198, 1954 to 1957)
In February 1954, the 300 SL series production sports car (W 198) celebrated its world première at the International Motor Sport Show in New York. The coupé was called the “Gullwing” or the “Papillon” (butterfly) owing to its distinctive roof-mounted doors, which resembled a gull’s wings. The high-performance sports car was based on the legendary 300 SL racing car (W 194) from the 1952 season. It was the first series production car with a four-stroke petrol injection engine. With an engine output of 158 kW (215 hp) – a good 25 per cent more than the carburettor motor racing version of 1952 – and a top speed of up to 250 km/h, the W 198 was in the top echelon of production sports cars in its day, which also predestined it for racing. One legendary triumph was the triple class victory of the 300 SL “Gullwing” in the 1955 Mille Miglia. John Cooper Fitch and his co-driver Kurt Gessl won fifth place in the overall classification in the car bearing race number 417, which represented their starting time at 4:17 am, and led the class of production sports cars over 1.3 litres displacement ahead of two more “Gullwings”. Between 1954 and 1957, a total of 1400 vehicles of the 300 SL “Gullwing” were built, no fewer than 867 of them in the year of its Mille Miglia class victory in 1955 alone.
Technical data of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “ Gullwing”
Production period: 1954 to 1957
Displacement: 2,996 cc
Output: 158 kW (215 hp)
Top speed: Up to 250 km/h
Mercedes-Benz 190 SL (W 121, 1955 to 1963)
Together with the 300 SL “Gullwing” high-performance sports car, in February 1954, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the prototype of the elegant, compact 190 SL (W 121) Roadster. The open-top two-door model was designed as a sporty, elegant touring and utility vehicle for two persons and, especially in the revised series production vehicle, was closely based on its “big brother”, the 300 SL, on the stylistic front. Designed from the outset as a roadster, the 190 SL established the tradition of SL sports cars with a roof that could be opened. The roadster, for its part, was more closely related at a technical level to the Mercedes-Benz 180 “Ponton” saloon (W 120), copying the latter’s shortened floor assembly. The 1.9-litre petrol engine rated at 77 kW (105 hp) was newly developed. The four-cylinder engine featured an overhead camshaft and became the forefather of an entire family of engines. The 1956 Mille Miglia was contested by the French team of Michel Bianco/Jean Loup Pellecuer in a 190 SL (race number 347). This is confirmed by documents in the archives of Mercedes-Benz Classic and in the Museo Mille Miglia in Brescia. This fact, rediscovered in 2015, has made the 190 SL Roadster popular among collectors eligible for the Mille Miglia since 2016. All in all, 25,881 vehicles of this model were built between 1955 and 1963, with some 10,000 of them going to the USA.
Technical data Mercedes-Benz 190 SL (series production version)
Production period: 1955 to 1963
Displacement: 1,897 cc
Output: 77 kW (105 hp)
Top speed: 171 km/h
Mercedes-Benz 220 (W 180, 1954 to 1956)
Launched in spring 1954, the model 220, also called the 220 a (W 180) internally to differentiate it from its eponymous predecessor model, was the first Mercedes-Benz six-cylinder model with a unibody design. Its modern, spacious “ Ponton” body, which Mercedes-Benz had unveiled six months earlier in the mid-size model, offered previously unknown spaciousness and comfort. A single-joint swing axle, which had been introduced into series production with the 220, ensured safe handling. Several Mercedes-Benz 220s participated in the 1956 Mille Miglia in the class of special series production touring cars. In this class, the vehicle chassis and engine could be modified. The Erwin Bauer/Erwin Grupp driver team came to the starting line of the legendary Italian road race in a special 220 model: in the racing division headed by Karl Kling, three vehicles were prepared specifically for the Mille Miglia. They were already equipped with the twin-carburettor system of the 220 S successor model, whose engine achieved about 85 kW (115 hp). Shorter and harder springs as well as modified shock absorbers were fitted for sporty driving. In addition, the driver could change gears via a floor shift, as in the 190 SL – instead of using the otherwise fitted column shift.
Technical data Mercedes-Benz 220 (series production version)
Production period: 1954 to 1956
Displacement: 2,195 cc
Output: 63 kW (85 hp)
Top speed: 150 km/h