50 years of Mercedes-Benz and Stirling Moss

This year, Mercedes-Benz honours a great racing driver - Stirling Moss - with several events, beginning with the start-into-the-season event at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Centre on April 16, 2005, where Stirling Moss will be the guest of honour.

The name Stirling Moss has been inseparably linked with Mercedes-Benz for 50 years. The year 1955 was a highly important one for the member of the Silver Arrow team: he won the Mille Miglia in a record time which has remained unbroken to this day - one of Stirling Moss’ greatest successes in that year. Few racing drivers are able to indulge in reminiscences so many years after the event; Stirling Moss can still be seen driving the famous car from Mercedes-Benz time and again. He has, for instance, been regularly competing in historical motor sport events at the wheel of "his" Mille Miglia car with the legendary start number 722 from 1955. One of these events will be this year’s Mille Miglia Storico: Stirling Moss will start from the ramp in his 722 once more. Another great racing driver will then take over and steer the car over the 1,000 mile route.

Stirling Moss was born on September 17, 1929. Both his parents were motor sport enthusiasts. Having caught the bug, there was but one goal for Moss: becoming a professional racing driver. His parents would have liked him to adopt another profession but they supported his ambitions in every respect. In 1948 be competed in his first racing season in Formula 3, racing in 15 competitions and winning 12 of these - a good start. In 1949, 1950 and 1951, he clinched the British Champion’s title in Formula 2, and in 1954, he raced highly success-fully in Formula One, driving his own Maserati. England celebrated the 25-year-old driver as a new star, and a waxwork likeness was unveiled in London’s Madame Tussauds.

Daimler-Benz signed on Stirling Moss for the 1955 racing season, and things went extremely well for him. On May 2, he won the Mille Miglia in the record time of ten hours, seven minutes and 48 seconds at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR, together with navigator Denis Jenkinson. On July 16, 1955, he was the first to cross the finishing line in the British Grand Prix in Aintree, driving a Mercedes-Benz Formula One racing car, type W 196. Other successes during the 1955 season were a second place in the Belgian Grand Prix, second place in the Dutch Grand Prix, first place in the Tourist Trophy in Dundrod, Northern Ireland, and first place in the Targa Florio.

In October 1955, Mercedes-Benz retired from active racing to transfer the technical capacity hitherto used for motor sport to passenger car development. In the following years, Moss drove different cars and proved in each season anew that he was a world-class driver.

A day in April 1962 at Goodwood was to be fateful for Stirling Moss: his Lotus racing car skidded off course at high speed for reasons never clarified and crashed into an earth bank. Moss sustained serious injuries and after several months of recovery, he decided to retire from active racing.

During his career, he competed in 495 motor sport events, driving 84 different cars, reaching the finishing line in 366 races and winning 222 of these. He missed the World Champion’s title by a hair’s breadth several times, clinching the runner-up position four times between 1955 and 1958, three times behind the great Juan Manuel Fangio and once, 1958, behind his compatriot Mike Hawthorn. His record of success also boasts 16 pole positions and a total of 19 fastest laps in World Championship races. In recognition of his achievements, he was knighted by the Queen of England and has since been known as Sir Stirling.

Text & Photos: DaimlerChrysler

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