The history of motorsport for Mercedes-Benz

  • Jochen Mass celebrates its 75th anniversary
  • 20 years ago, Bernd Schneider became DTM champion behind the wheel of the Mercedes CLK
  • 65 years ago Walter Schock and Rolf Moll won the European Touring Car Championship (ETCC)
  • 150 years ago, Adolf Daimler was born, who competed in the Herkomer-Konkurrenz rally in 1906.
  • On April 30, 2021, at the age of 86, Mercedes-Benz racing driver Albert Pfuhl died

Their sporting achievements are admirable: Jochen Mass at the wheel of racing – Mercedes formed the Group C era – including his victory in Le Mans mode. Bernd Schneider in Mercedes CLK AMG dominated the 2001 season of the German Championship in cars (DTM). In 1956, Walter Schock and Rolf Moll, together with Mercedes-Benz, celebrated rally success throughout Europe. And in 1906, Gottlieb Daimler’s youngest son, Adolf, competed in a Mercedes 70 hp in the Herkomer -Konkurrenz rally – the most difficult car safety test at the time. One of the best privately funded drivers for car racing and endurance collections behind the wheel of one-star cars was Albert Pfuhl. An esteemed player, and privately, an adventurer, died on April 30, 2021, at the age of 86. Each of these characters comes from a different era, but all have left their mark on Mercedes-Benz sports history.

On September 8, 1871, Adolf Daimler was born in Karlsruhe
150 years ago, Adolf Daimler was born the second son of Gottlieb Daimler. Like his brother Paul Daimler (technical director of the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft 1907-1922), he made a career in the automotive industry. He started working at DMG in 1899, after graduating from engineering studies, and eight years later he was appointed to the board and became chief operating officer. In 1907, Adolf Daimler started in a 70 hp Mercedes powered by a four-cylinder engine in the Herkomer-Konkurrenz rally – one of the most popular car events at the time. The vehicle would be a reinforced version of the 65 hp Mercedes, with a 9.2-liter unit. The name of the rally comes from the name of the painter, artist and car enthusiast Hubert von Herkomer. In the second edition of the event, 1906, the effort was 159 vehicles, and the total distance to be covered was 1700 km.

The first Herkomer-Konkurrenz rally in 1905 was considered the “successor” to the race for the Gordon Bennett Cup, and Mercedes was very successful in it. Flinsch & Co., the then general distributor of the brand in Germany, proudly published a full-page advertisement in the Berliner Tageblatt newspaper on August 27, 1905, stating that “there were 15 Mercedes among the 80 starting vehicles, of which 7 were in the top fifteen ranked at Three Mercedes won first prize, led by Edgar Ladenburg, Herman Weigand and Willy Pöge. The purpose of the rally was to “test the usability and performance of the vehicle”. , must prove its durability, everyday suitability and reliability.

The public interest in the Herkomer -Konkurrenz rallies – held in 1905-1907 – was enormous and helped to arouse a passion for the car industry in Europe. In the second edition, which took place on June 5-13, 1906, Emil Neumaier (Benz) finished second, followed by Willy Pöge and his Mercedes. The rally was also attended by Prince Henrik of Prussia, brother of Emperor Wilhelm II, who during the years 1908-1910 continued to organize a similar race under the name “Prinz-Heinrich-Fahrt”, with virtually unchanged rules. Adolf Daimler, however, on March 24, 1913 in Tübingen, 41 years old. In 1997, the Herkomer-Konkurrenz rally was re-launched as a classic car rally in Landsberg am Lech, a town in and around southwestern Bavaria.

September 30, 2021 – Jochen Mass celebrates his 75th birthday
Even 30 years after the last race, Jochen Mass is still one of the most famous racing drivers in Germany. At many classic vehicle events, this experienced and articulate competitor is a sought-after conversation partner. He celebrated his greatest individual success with Mercedes. In 1989, together with Manuel Reuter and Stanley Dickens, he won the Le Mans 24 Hours race (Sauber-Mercedes C 9). From 1988 to 1991, Mass was part of the successful Swiss team of Peter Sauber, who set up Group C racing cars in close collaboration with Mercedes-Benz. In 1990 he was given a special task – he would lead three new drivers to the top of motorsport: Heinz -Harald Frentzen, Michael Schumacher and Karl Wendlinger. In the same year, the duos Mass / Wendlinger and Mass / Schumacher noted their victory in the world championship race. It turned out that each of the three juniors had a fantastic career ahead of them.

In 1991, however, after the World Cup final at the Autopolis track in Japan, Mass withdrew from racing activities. “I have always been curious about the world,” he said, describing his approach to life. Born on September 30, 1946 in Dorfen near Erding, he went to sea as a young man. After 3 years as a sailor, he was inspired by acoustic, smell and speed sensations in the touring car racing world. So he decided to take an apprenticeship as a mechanic in the then famous Helmut Hähn competition stable and this is how his journey to the Alfa Romeo GTA cockpit began. In 1968 and 1969, the talent of the Mass was noticed by the management of the Ford factory team. In 1971 the rider Deutsche Automobil won the Rundstrecken-Meisterschaft championship in the Capri RS 2600 and a year later became European Touring Car Race Champion (ETCC). As early as 1971, he started racing for the first time, and in two years he made it to Formula 1. In the 105 Grand Prix with McLaren and Arrows, he scored a total of 71 points. Thanks to his versatile experience, Jochen Mass is an extremely interesting conversation partner – and at the same time a nice and happy person.

October 7, 2001 – “Mister DTM” Bernd Schneider celebrates his third DTM title in Hockenheim Even today, Bernd Schneider has the honorary title “Mister DTM”. He still leads the statistics for the famous tournament car series – with a total of five championship titles. In 226 races behind the wheel of Mercedes-Benz cars, he achieved 43 victories and stood on the podium 100 times.

Schneider was born in St. Ingbert in southwestern Germany in 1964. He won his first DTM championship in 1995, followed by others in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2006. In 1997, when no DTM competition was held, he took first place in the FIA ​​GT World Cup at the wheel of a Mercedes CLK GTR. 2001 was a particularly successful year for him – for the first time in DTM’s rich history, a racing driver was able to hold the title. “It’s hard to believe,” Schneider recalls. “In 9 out of 10 weekends, I was on the podium at least once and won my third title in two races before the season ended.” In 2001, the Mercedes-Benz form was so good that four AMG drivers Bernd Schneider, Uwe Alzen, Peter Dumbreck and Marcel Fässler took the top four places in the championship.

At the age of 5, Bernd Schneider was eager to compete in kart racing. “My father Horst nurtured my talents from an early age, invested heavily in my career and still believed in me. Good thing! “Schneider admitted. Domestic and international karting successes led him to Formula Ford, Formula 3 and ultimately Formula 1. Before the 1990 season, however, Schneider was suddenly deposed from his seat in the cockpit and initially competed in sports cars for various teams. In 1991, he met Norbert Haug, then new head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, he said to him: “Bern, you definitely have to start in the DTM.” As a beginner, Schneider finished third in his first DTM season in 1992 and made four wins at the wheel of a Mercedes 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II (W 201) and stepped on the heels of his teammates Klaus Ludwig and Kurt Thiim.

November 24, 1956 – Schock and Moll win the European Championships
During the 1950s and 1960s, classic Mercedes-Benz limousines won many competitions and rallies for touring cars. In 1956, Walter Schock and his co-driver Rolf Moll – both from Stuttgart – started in a Mercedes 220 a (W 180) in the famous Monte Carlo rally. Six cylinders, 2.2 liters of displacement and 85 kW (115 hp) were enough to take second place in the overall mode. The decisive criterion in favor of “Ponton” was the ground clearance, which among other things gave him an advantage over 300 SL (W 198) and then fights with a lot of snow. The second position helped the crew win the title of European Champion. In 1960, Schock and Moll won again in the Monte Carlo rally, this time at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz 220 SE (W 111) limousine – the so-called samaras.

The rally duo from Stuttgart chose 300 SL to compete in the subsequent rallies during the 1956 season. And he did not stop winning – he won both the Sestrière Rally and the Acropolis Rally, and in the following rounds he finished close to the top. On November 24, 1956, after very even results from the Ibérico rally, the Mercedes-Benz team got a lead of only 2 points. won the European Championship in rally among touring cars.

That same year, Walter Schock won the German GT Championship with the 300 SL. The driver was born on April 3, 1920. He trained as a car mechanic at Mercedes, but quickly became a test driver. But he did not start his racing career until after World War II, especially in 1954, with a Mercedes 220 a (W 180) in the Solitude Rally. In the following years he celebrated many successes, including the title of the Argentine Grand Prix 1961 in the touring car class, which competed with the Rolf Moll 220 SE (W 111). Walter Schock died in Stuttgart in 2005, aged 85. His longtime pilot, mechanical engineer Rolf Moll, was CEO of the Deutscher Kraftfahrzeug-Überwachungsverein (DEKRA) from 1968 to 1996. After retiring from racing activities, he remained closely associated with motorsport and held many honorary positions. He died in 2018, 89 years old.

Farewell to Albert Pfuhl
Albert Pfuhl, a successful entrepreneur, began his motorsport career in 1953 with motorcycle racing. He switched to cars in the early 1960s. He participated in many mountain races with Ferrari and Porsche, as well as in gatherings – together with his friend Manfred Schik, employed at the Mercedes-Benz test department. Schiek played a key role in the organization of their car – Mercedes 220 SE (W 111), which in 1962 won Ewa Rosqvist and Ursula Wirth Argentina’s Grand Prix among touring cars.

Albert Pfuhl was one of AMG’s first customers. In 1966 and 1967 he won many races at the wheel of a former Mercedes factory machine – 300 SE (W 112) racing machine with direct fuel injection. Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher prepared him for the start. “Thanks to my success, Aufrecht and Melcher gained new customers,” recalls Pfuhl, whose racing activities were privately funded. During the 1970s and 1980s, the competitor competed in long-distance collections on different continents and drove a distance of up to 30,000 kilometers behind the wheel of Mercedes-Benz cars. Remarkable is the ninth place, which he took with Alfred Kling in the factory-ready 280 E (W 123) in the rally Vuelta a la América del Sud between August 17 and September 24, 1978. Andrew Cowan and Colin Malkin won since the classification overall, drove factory 450 SLC (C 107), and the mark under the sign of the triangular star occupied the first five positions (the Zasada / Zembrzuski crew came second).

When Mercedes-Benz closed its rally department in 1982, Albert Pfuhl bought back all equipment, including 6,500 SLCs, spare parts and 600 tires. The crew consisting of Albert Pfuhl and Hans Schuller and Jochen Mass and Stephen Perry who drove two of these vehicles took 44th and 62nd place respectively in the Paris-Dakar race in 1984. After this famous rally, the racing driver and adventurer Albert Pfuhl ended his career in motorsport. . He died on April 30, 2021, at the age of 86.

Greetings to the supporters of
Tomasz Mucha, e-mail: [email protected]

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