At the 2015 Mille Miglia retrospective, Mercedes-Benz celebrated the 60th anniversary of its famed overall win at the 1955 Mille Miglia. Three of the greatest heroes of the thousand-mile race in 1955 returned to the route between Brescia and Rome. Together with the legendary Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR (W 196 S) racing car, Mercedes-Benz racing drivers Sir Stirling Moss and Hans Herrmann remembered the 1955 race at this year’s Mille Miglia event, which was held 14-17 May 2015.
In 1955 the young Brit Stirling Moss won this furious Italian road race with his co-driver Denis Jenkinson in the fastest ever time of 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds over a distance of around 1,600 kilometres. Hans Herrmann, on the other hand, was the hapless hero at Mille Miglia 60 years ago as he was in an excellent second place at the wheel of his 300 SLR, likewise with a chance of victory, when an unfortunate defect ended his race on the Passo di Futa.
The 33rd nostalgic Mille Miglia in May 2015 kept alive the memory of the historic road race staged between 1927 and 1957. The appearance of the original 300 SLR racing cars with Sir Stirling Moss, Hans Herrmann, and Ralf Schumacher at the wheel were among the highlights of this year’s event.
Sir Stirling Moss was a guest at the wheel of the very same original car with starting number 722 in which he won the legendary Italian road race from Brescia to Rome and back in the best time 60 years ago.
At Moss’ side was then team-mate Hans Herrmann – who six decades ago was likewise a hot contender for victory in the thousand-mile race. The talented driver from Stuttgart put in a stunning performance in 1955, but his race ended due to an unfortunate accident on the Passo di Futa while lying in second place. The third Mercedes-Benz driver to line up on the 2015 Mille Miglia route was former Mercedes-Benz DTM racing driver Ralf Schumacher in the number 658 300 SLR that was originally driven by Juan Manuel Fangio. The authentic racing cars made their unique guest appearances in Brescia, Sirmione, San Marino, Rome and Siena during the course of the historic regularity race.
Around 430 cars from some 70 different brands took part in the Mille Miglia this year, including almost 40 Mercedes-Benz cars. The line-up for the Mille Miglia 2015 included the supercharged SS and SSK touring sports cars from the late 1920s plus the 300 SL (W 198) and 220 ‘Ponton’ (W 180) models unveiled in 1954.
Each of the vehicles was associated with its own special moments in the history of the Mille Miglia. The supercharged sports cars, for instance, were a reminder of Rudolf Caracciola’s victory in the Mercedes-Benz SSKL at the Mille Miglia 1931. At the time, this was the first overall win achieved by a non-Italian driver. The 300 SL ‘Gullwing’ Coupe was a standard-production sports car derived from the 300 SL racing model (W 194) with which Mercedes-Benz returned to international motor sport in 1952, achieving second (Karl Kling) and fourth (Rudolf Caracciola) places overall at that year’s Mille Miglia. The standard-production sports car then enjoyed its finest hour in 1955 when John Cooper Fitch led a triple victory for the 300 SL in the category for standard-production sports cars with a displacement above 1.3 litres. Similarly the 180 D (W 120) diesel-powered Saloon achieved a triple victory in its category in 1955, adding the perfect finishing touch to the resounding overall victory achieved by Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio in the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR. Despite the racing department’s withdrawal from motor sport, Mercedes-Benz supported the entry of several 300 SL standard-production sports cars in 1956, although the main emphasis was on preparing three 220 ‘Ponton’ Saloon models for the Mille Miglia.
Mercedes-Benz at the 2015 Mille Miglia – Photo Gallery
[Source: Daimler AG; photos: Daimler AG, Julien Mahiels]