Mercedes-Benz Classic: 125 Years of Motorsports with Mercedes-Benz – Newsletter Issue 6

Jun 18, 2019

22 July 1894 was the birth date of competitive motorcar racing when the world’s first race took place from Paris to Rouen over 126 kilometres. This was also the beginning of the unique motorsports history of Mercedes-Benz, because the winners were two cars with Daimler engines, and a Benz car came 5th. The brand with the star is celebrating its anniversary in 2019 at numerous events, including the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England (4 to 7 July 2019) and the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring (26 to 28 July 2019).

Stuttgart. The auspicious start 125 years ago has spawned repeated victories for cars sporting the Mercedes star right through to today. These include, in particular, five consecutive Formula One World Championships from 2014 to 2018, the triple championship in the DTM in 2018 and Mercedes-AMG’s continuing success in customer sport.

First ever one-two win The first competitive motorcar race ever was won by two cars sporting Daimler two-cylinder V-engines (“système Daimler”) that had been built by Panhard & Levassor and Peugeot under licence. The engine can be seen at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in the transition zone from the “Legend 1: Pioneers – The invention of the motorcar” to the rest of the museum.

Top representative Fifth place went to engineer Émile Roger, who was driving a 3.7 kW (5 hp) Benz Vis-à-Vis. Since 1888, by this point, Roger had been the sole authorised representative for vehicles and engines bearing the name Benz in France.

New sport The Paris-Rouen motorcar race was the first of its kind and laid the foundations for future motorsports. At the same time, cars with combustion engines won the competition over cars driven by steam and other sources of motive power.

A clear message In 1894, the characteristics required of participating vehicles were that they were “safe to use, easy to operate and not too expensive to operate” (“être sans danger, aisément maniable pour les voyageurs et de ne pas coûter trop cher sur la route”).

Living memory This summer, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England (4 to 7 July 2019) and at the German Grand Prix 2019 at Hockenheimring (26 to 28 July 2019), as well as on many other occasions, Mercedes-Benz Classic will be celebrating “125 Years of Mercedes-Benz Motorsports”.

From a competitive event to motor racing The first motorcar race based on time, which is the basis for modern racing, took place in 1895, and ran from Paris to Bordeaux and back. The first vehicle to cross the finishing line was a two-seater Panhard & Levassor with a Daimler engine.

The lady wins in Argentina In its anniversary year, Mercedes-Benz is also celebrating the birthdays of famous racing drivers. Ewy Rosqvist, for example: she was born on 3 August 1929 in Sweden and celebrates her 90th birthday this year. From 1962, she took part in rallies and road races for Mercedes-Benz. One of her most important victories was the overall victory at the Argentinian Touring Car Grand Prix of 1962. Since that time, Ewy Rosqvist has maintained close ties to Mercedes-Benz and is, to this day, a brand ambassador.

Stirling silver Stirling Moss, born on 17 September 1929 in London, was extremely successful at the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows in 1955 – and is also 90 years old this year. He won the British Grand Prix in Formula One in Aintree and, driving a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR racing sports car (W 196 S), also won the Mille Miglia, the Tourist Trophy in Dundrod and the Targa Florio in Sicily. The winning car in the Mille Miglia, starting number 722, is today one of the highlights of the permanent exhibition at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in the Legend 7: Silver Arrows – Races and Records exhibition area. As a Mercedes-Benz brand ambassador and representative of those far-off times, Stirling Moss keeps the fascination of 1955 alive.

Daimler two-cylinder V-engine from 1889. Studio shot. Engines constructed under licence powered the winning vehicles in the first car competition in history 125 years ago.
In the first competitive motorcar race in the world over 126 kilometres from Paris to Rouen on 22 July 1894, cars with Daimler engines were awarded joint first prizes. A Benz vehicle also took part successfully and was honoured with the fifth prize.
On the reliability tour from Paris to Rouen on 22 July 1894, the vehicles by Panhard & Levassor featuring Daimler two-cylinder V-engines showed what they were worth. The French manufacturer received joint first prize at the competition together with Peugeot.
First competitive vehicle run from Paris to Rouen, 22 July 1894. Albert Lemaître's Peugeot (start number 65), on the left rear seat: Adolphe Clément. The Peugeot with an engine produced under a Daimler licence crossed the finishing line in second place but was the first car over the line with a combustion engine and so was awarded joint first prize with Panhard & Levassor.
A motorcar from Panhard & Levassor with a Daimler engine, during the first competitive car race between Paris and Rouen on 22 July 1894.
First competitive motorcar race from Paris to Rouen, 22 July 1894. Paul Panhard in his Panhard & Levassor vehicle with a Daimler engine. The car with starting number 13 finishes in fourth position, Panhard & Levassor are awarded joint first prize.
First ever competitive vehicle run from Paris to Rouen, 22 July 1894. Emile Roger in the 3-hp Benz Vis-à-Vis finished in 14th place. Drawing by Hans Liska dated 1960.
Daimler two-cylinder V-engine presented at Mercedes-Benz Classic Insight “125 Years of Motorsport” in Silverstone, England on 4 and 5 April 2019.
Sir Stirling Moss in his Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR racing sports car (W 196 S) with starting number 722 at the start of the Mille Miglia on 14 May 2015 in Brescia, Italy.
Sir Stirling Moss at the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR racing sports car (W 196 S) with starting number 722 at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Insight “Success Stories 1955” on 23 April 2015 in Italy.
Mercedes-Benz Classic brand ambassador and former rally driver Ewy Baroness von Korff-Rosqvist with Björn Waldegård (left) and Marcel Tiemann at “Mercedes-Benz & Friends” in Sweden, September 2013.
Stirling Moss (right) and his co-driver Denis Jenkinson before the start of the Mille Miglia on 1 May 1955 in Brescia, Italy. The team won in the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR racing sports car (W 196 S) with the best time ever achieved in the Mille Miglia
Mercedes-Benz rally driver Ewy Rosqvist – portrait photo showing her with a Mercedes-Benz 220 SE “fintail” rally car.
The Benz Victoria Vis-à-Vis, production period 1893 to 1896. From 1893, Carl Benz’s design for fully functional double-pivot steering opened the way to the construction of four-wheeled vehicles. He called the first model with the new steering system Victoria.