Hermann Lang was born on April 6, 1909 in Cannstatt near Stuttgart, and if he were alive, today would mark his 100th birthday.
Lang began his racing career on two wheels and rode an old Norton motorcycle to victory on the Solitude circuit in Stuttgart in 1927 when still an apprentice mechanic. Lang developed into a sidecar specialist as a works rider for motorcycle manufacturer Standard, notching up a series of notable victories during the course of 1931 on his way to the German Hill Climb Championship title for sidecars. In 1933 he was taken on by Daimler-Benz AG as a mechanic in the racing and testing department. Lang was occasionally asked to warm up the brakes for the 750-kilogram-formula cars, which gave him the opportunity to show off his driving talents and secured him a place in a junior drivers trial. In 1935 Lang made his first start as a Mercedes-Benz racing driver in the International Eifel Race, going on to finish fifth.
Among his subsequent triumphs were victories in the two fastest races on the global calendar in 1937 – the Tripoli Grand Prix and the Avus race in Berlin. The following season saw Lang further consolidate his position as a leading driver in the Mercedes-Benz racing team, repeating his success in Tripoli and also taking victory in the Coppa Ciano.
Lang, Manfred von Brauchitsch and Rudolf Caracciola formed a trio of Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows drivers who struck fear into the hearts of their rivals at the time. 1939 saw Lang reel off successive wins in the Pau and Tripoli Grands Prix, the International Eifel Race and the Höhenstrassenrennen race outside Vienna, setting new track records on each occasion. This outstanding run was backed up by further wins in the Belgian Grand Prix, the German Hill Climb Grand Prix and the Grand Prix of Switzerland, allowing him to secure both the European Championship and Hill Climb Championship that year.
The Second World War failed to stop Lang in his tracks, the German driver picking up where he had left off to fend off all-comers in the first major race of the post-war era – the Ruhestein hill climb in the Black Forest– in his BMW 328 Mille Miglia.
Lang then rejoined the Daimler-Benz AG team following its return to motor racing in 1951 after an absence of twelve years, taking one second and one third place in two races held in Argentina that spring. Lang celebrated a keenly awaited comeback in the 300 SL (W 194 series) in 1952, taking second place behind Karl Kling in Bern and teaming up with Fritz Riess to claim overall victory in the Le Mans 24-hour race.
Lang called time on his racing career after the Grand Prix of Europe in August 1954, but remained with Mercedes-Benz until retirement as a customer service inspector. He died on October 19, 1987 in his home district of Bad Cannstatt in Stuttgart.