Wilhelm Werner

Apr 30, 2017

Born 23 April 1874 in Großgartach
Died in March 1947

Werner was one of the most accomplished drivers to compete in cars produced by Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft and is among the pioneers of motorsport. He joined the company as a technician in 1895. The automobile represented a new form of transport at the time, and handling automobiles required a degree of experience. Consequently, it was not uncommon for a technician to deliver a vehicle to the customer, and in some instances they also served the customer as a chauffeur. And so, following a stint at the DMG branch in Vienna, Werner first of all entered into service for Baron Alfred Springer in 1899. Werner competed regularly and successfully in races as a works driver, initially in the Cannstatt-based company’s “Riemenwagen” (belt-driven car) and the “ Phoenix” racing car. In 1901 he achieved his epochal victory driving the Mercedes 35 HP in the Nice–La Turbie hill climb. Only a few days previously he had won the Nice–Aix–Senas–Salon–Nice race and the mile race on the Promenade des Anglais - these feats were to see him hailed as the hero of the Nice racing week. The vehicle which de drove belonged to Henri de Rothschild.

In 1902 the American millionaire and automobile enthusiast Clarence Gray Dinsmore appointed Werner as his chauffeur and racing driver. The wealthy American regularly fielded his vehicles in competitions. In September 1902 Werner won the Semmering race in Dinsmore’s Mercedes-Simplex 40 HP, and in 1903, as in the previous year, he achieved leading places in Nice Week.

In 1903 Dinsmore was one of three men of independent means who placed their Mercedes-Simplex 60 HP cars at DMG’s disposal for the Gordon Bennett race after a major fire had destroyed the Mercedes-Simplex 90 HP cars which were originally intended to take part in the competition. Camille Jenatzy won the race in breakneck style at the wheel of Dinsmore’s vehicle. No doubt to the chagrin of Werner, who had pleaded with his employer not to lend out the car. He himself was unable to compete in the race, as the German Automobile Club, which was responsible for admissions to the Gordon Bennett race, refused to allow a chauffeur to take part on grounds of social rank. On Dinsmore’s death in 1905, Werner entered into the employment of another person of distinction, becoming the head chauffeur of the German emperor Wilhelm II. He died in March 1947 at the age of 73.