- Jochen Mass celebrates his 75th birthday
- 20 years ago, Bernd Schneider was crowned DTM Champion at the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz CLK
- 65 years ago, Walter Schock/Rolf Moll claimed the European Touring Car Championship
- Adolf Daimler was born 150 years ago – in 1906, he raced at the Herkomer-Konkurrenz Rally
- Mercedes-Benz racing driver Albert Pfuhl passed away on 30 April 2021 at the age of 86
Stuttgart. They all deserve to be admired for their achievements in sports: Jochen Mass shaped the era of Group C racing in Mercedes-Benz racing touring cars – including an overall win in Le Mans. At the wheel of the AMG Mercedes-Benz CLK, Bernd Schneider dominated the 2001 season of the German Touring Car Masters (DTM). In 1956, Walter Schock and Rolf Moll celebrated rally success across Europe together with Mercedes-Benz. Gottlieb Daimler’s youngest son Adolf raced at the wheel of a Mercedes 70 hp in the 1906 Herkomer-Konkurrenz Rally – the era’s toughest reliability race in what had been a recent development at the time: motor racing. Albert Pfuhl was one of the best privately funded drivers competing in touring car races and endurance rallies at the wheel of Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The racing driver and adventurer passed away on 30 April 2021 at the age of 86. Mercedes-Benz looks back at these six characters from very different eras, who contributed to the brand’s motorsport history.
8 September 1871 – Adolf Daimler is born in Karlsruhe
150 years ago, Adolf Daimler was born as the second son of Gottlieb Daimler on 8 September 1871 in Karlsruhe. Like his brother Paul Daimler (Technical Director of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft between 1907 and 1922), he also made a career for himself in automotive engineering. After having graduated in Mechanical Engineering, Adolf Daimler started out at the company in 1899, before being appointed to the Board of Management and becoming Chief Operating Officer of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft in 1907. One year prior, he had raced in a Mercedes 70 hp with a four-cylinder engine at the Herkomer-Konkurrenz Rally, one of the most popular automotive events at the time. This vehicle was said to be a tuned version of the Mercedes 65 hp with a displacement of 9.2 litres. The touring car rally can be traced back to painter, artist and automotive aficionado Hubert von Herkomer. In 1906, a whole 115 years ago, a field of 159 vehicles covered the second edition’s total distance of 1,700 kilometres.
Mercedes had been very successful at the first Herkomer-Konkurrenz Rally in 1905, considered the successor to the Gordon Bennett Cup races. Flinsch & Co., at the time the German Mercedes general distributor based in Frankfurt/Main, proudly placed a full-page advert in the Berliner Tageblatt newspaper on 27 August 1905. It stated that “in a field of 80 competing vehicles, 13 were Mercedes and 7 of these finished in the top 15 classed as having finished the race. Three Mercedes claimed first prize.” At the wheel of these three Mercedes were Edgar Ladenburg, Herman Weigand and Willy Pöge. The advert described the “specialist test of the vehicle’s usability and effective output” as the aim of the rally: four-seater touring cars featuring four seats, wings, lighting, rain guards and a luggage compartment had to prove their endurance, everyday suitability and reliability.
The public’s interest in the Herkomer-Konkurrenz rallies – held between 1905 and 1907 – was vast. As a result, the passion for the motor car, then still a quite recent development, grew across Germany and Europe. At the rally’s second edition between 5 and 13 June 1906, Emil Neumaier (Benz) finished as the runner-up, followed by Willy Pöge and his Mercedes. Prince Heinrich of Prussia, Emperor Wilhelm II’s brother, also took part in the Herkomer-Konkurrenz Rally. Between 1908 and 1910, he continued to organise the race as the “Prinz-Heinrich-Fahrt” with virtually unchanged regulations. Adolf Daimler died on 24 March 1913 in Tübingen at the young age of only 41. Ever since 1997, the Herkomer-Konkurrenz Rally has been revived as a rally for classic cars in and around Landsberg am Lech, a town in southwest Bavaria.
30 September 2021 – Jochen Mass celebrates his 75th birthday
Even 30 years after his last race, Jochen Mass is still one of the best-known motorsport racers in Germany. At many classic events, this knowledgeable and eloquent racing driver is a sought-after conversation partner.
Jochen Mass celebrated his greatest individual success with Mercedes-Benz. In 1989, together with Manuel Reuter and Stanley Dickens, he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Sauber-Mercedes C 9. Between 1988 and 1991, Mass was part of the incredibly successful team of the Swiss Peter Sauber, who was running the Group C racing sports cars in close partnership with Mercedes-Benz. In 1990, there was a special assignment: Mass was to lead three new drivers to the peak of motorsport: Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Michael Schumacher and Karl Wendlinger. The pairings of Mass/Wendlinger and Mass/Schumacher each won a World Championship race in 1990 and the three juniors had great careers ahead of them. Mass, on the other hand, withdrew from active racing in 1991 after the World Championship final Autopolis, Japan.
“I was always curious about the world,” says Jochen Mass, describing his attitude towards life. Born on 30 September 1946 in Dorfen near Erding, he first went to sea as a young man. After three years as a sailor in the merchant navy, the sound, smell and speed of racing touring cars inspired him. He chose to pursue an apprenticeship as a mechanic at the then renowned racing stable of Helmut Hähn as a determined path to the cockpit of an Alfa Romeo GTA. In 1968 and 1969, his great talent was noticed by those in charge at the Ford works team. In a Ford Capri RS 2600, he won the Deutsche Automobil Rundstrecken-Meisterschaft (German Automotive Circuits Championship) in 1971 and became European Touring Car champion in 1972. In 1971, he took part in his first race in an open-wheel car and within two years was able to make the leap to Formula One. Over the course of 105 Grand Prix events, Mass attained 71 World Championship points with McLaren and Arrows 71 and was therefore the most successful Formula One driver of his time.
With his many varied experiences, Jochen Mass is an incredibly likeable person, who uses his rich and humorous stories to let others take part in his adventures. Despite a jam-packed life, he has always kept his feet on the ground – whenever he gets a chance, Jochen Mass always finds time for his listeners.
7 October 2001 – “Mister DTM” Bernd Schneider celebrates the third DTM title in Hockenheim
To this day, Bernd Schneider is proud of the honorary title “Mister DTM”. He still leads the statistics of this outstanding touring car racing series with a total of five DTM Championship titles. In 226 races at the wheel of Mercedes-Benz touring cars, he claimed 43 victories and finished on the podium one hundred times. The racing driver, born in St. Ingbert in southwest Germany in 1964, claimed his first championship in 1995, back when the DTM was still officially known as the Deutsche Tourenwagen-Meisterschaft (German touring car championship). At the German Touring Car Masters, held since 2000, the Mercedes-AMG Brand Ambassador won the title in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2006. In 1997, which was a year without DTM competitions, Schneider finished in first place at the FIA GT World Championship in the Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR.
2001 was a particularly successful year for Schneider. It marked the first time in DTM’s eventful history that a racing driver was able to retain the title, and the reigning champion did so very convincingly. “It’s hard to believe,” Schneider says, looking back, “on nine of the ten weekends, I was on the podium at least once, claiming my third title no less than two races before the end of the season.” In other words: in a total of 20 heats, the Mercedes-Benz works driver finished first in six, was the runner-up four times and came third four times. In 2001, Mercedes-Benz’s performance was so superior, the four drivers in Hans Werner Aufrecht’s AMG team finished in the top four championship places in the following order: Bernd Schneider, Uwe Alzen, Peter Dumbreck and Marcel Fässler. “I was no less than 60 points ahead of Uwe Alzen,” Schneider noted about his championship finish with 161 points.
Bernd Schneider was already very keen to compete in karting races at the tender age of five. “My dad Horst fostered my talents from an early age, he invested a lot in my career and kept believing in me, I have to admit, that was great!” Schneider explains. Claiming national and international karting success, his career took him to Formula Ford, Formula Three and ultimately Formula One. Ahead of the 1990 season Schneider was suddenly left without a place in a racing cockpit and initially raced in sports car races for various teams. In 1991, the racing driver was chatting to Norbert Haug, back then the new head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. He said to him: “Bernd, you definitely need to compete in the DTM.” This resulted in the DTM rookie finishing third in his first DTM season in 1992 with four race wins at the wheel of the AMG Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II (W 201), hot on the heels of his Mercedes-Benz teammates Klaus Ludwig and Kurt Thiim.
24 November 1956 – Schock/Moll claim the European Championship
In the 1950s and 1960s, classic Mercedes-Benz saloons won numerous touring car championship races around circuits and at rallies. Stuttgart-based Walter Schock and his co-driver Rolf Moll took part in the 1956 Monte Carlo Rally in a Mercedes-Benz 220 a (W 180). Six cylinders, 2.2 litres of displacement and 85 kW (115 hp) were enough to finish in second place of the overall classification at this rally, which is so deeply steeped in tradition. The crucial criterion in favour of the “Ponton” was its ground clearance, an advantage compared to the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 198) at this rally, which was hit by plenty of snow. With this second place, the team laid the foundations for the 1956 European Championship title. Schock/Moll once again claimed the victory at the Monte Carlo Rally in 1960 at the wheel of a large car, the Mercedes-Benz 220 SE (W 111) tail fin saloon.
The rally duo from Stuttgart chose the 300 SL for further rallies during the 1956 season. Schock/Moll won the Sestrière Rally as well as the Acropolis Rally and finished near the top at further races. After a very close finish at the Ibérico Rally on 24 November 1956, the Mercedes-Benz team claimed the European Rally Championship title for touring cars with a lead of only two points. Schock/Moll were also crowned International Rally Champions while Walter Schock also claimed the German GT Championship in the 300 SL that same year.
Walter Schock was born on 3 April 1920. He trained as an automotive mechanic at Mercedes-Benz, passed his driving test at the young age of 17 and became test driver. Walter Schock only started motor racing after the Second World War, namely in 1954 with a Mercedes-Benz 220 a (W 180) at the “Solitude” Rally. He celebrated plenty of success in the following years, including the title at the 1961 Argentinian Grand Prix for touring cars, driving the Mercedes-Benz 220 SE (W 111) with Rolf Moll. Walter Schock passed away in Stuttgart in 2005 at the age of 85. His long-term co-driver, mechanical engineer Rolf Moll, was the CEO of Deutscher Kraftfahrzeug-Überwachungsverein (German Motor Vehicle Inspection Association, DEKRA) between 1968 and 1996. He also remained closely associated with motorsport after having retired from active racing, holding numerous honorary offices. Rolf Moll died in 2018 at the age of 89.
Farewell to Albert Pfuhl
Successful entrepreneur Albert Pfuhl initially launched his motorsport career in motorcycle racing in 1953. At the beginning of the 1960s he moved on to cars. He competed in numerous hill climbing races with Ferrari and Porsche as well as in rallies together with close friend Manfred Schiek, an employee at the Mercedes-Benz testing department. Schiek was instrumental in organising exactly that Mercedes-Benz 220 SE (W 111) with which Ewy Rosqvist and Ursula Wirth won the 1962 Argentinian Grand Prix for touring cars.
Albert Pfuhl was one of the very first AMG customers. In 1966 and 1967, he won numerous races at race tracks in a former Mercedes-Benz 300 SE (W 112) works racing car featuring direct injection. Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher prepared the former works vehicle for the privately funded driver. “Aufrecht and Melcher have gained new customers thanks to my success,” Pfuhl said in retrospect.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Pfuhl competed in long-distance rallies on various continents, covering distances of up to 30,000 kilometres at the wheel of Mercedes-Benz vehicles. A result that stands out is the ninth overall place he claimed with Alfred Kling in a 280 E (W 123) that had been prepared at the plant at the “Vuelta a la América del Sud” Rally between 17 August and 24 September 1978. Andrew Cowan and Colin Malkin claimed the overall victory at the wheel of their works Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC (C 107). The team headed up the Stuttgart-based brand’s victory, claiming the first five positions.
When Mercedes-Benz closed its rally department in 1982, Albert Pfuhl bought all the material, consisting of six 500 SLCs, spare parts and 600 tyres. Teams made up of Albert Pfuhl and Hans Schuller as well as Jochen Mass and Stephen Perry finished 44th and 62nd respectively at the 1984 Paris–Dakar at the wheel of two of these vehicles. Racing driver and adventurer Albert Pfuhl concluded his motorsport career following this marathon rally. He passed away on 30 April 2021 at the age of 86.