This year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed saw Mercedes-Benz Classic presenting highlights from more than 100 years of motor sports. From the Mercedes racing car of 1906 to the SLS AMG GT3 built in 2011 – some exceptional vehicles from the history of the brand were seen on the race track and as part of the displays.
The Hillclimb at Goodwood saw a starting line-up of unique vehicles that have written motor racing history over the years, driven by Mercedes-Benz Classic brand ambassadors such as Roland Asch, Ellen Lohr, Klaus Ludwig, Jochen Mass and Susie Wolff.
The deep sporting tradition was ably demonstrated by a Mercedes 120-horsepower racing car of 1906, engineered by Wilhelm Maybach. Research and development work at Mercedes-Benz focuses systematically on the “endless pursuit of power,” the motto of the Festival of Speed in 2016 – and has done so since the invention of the automobile by Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler exactly 130 years ago, in 1886.
And as demonstrated, for example, by the Mercedes-Benz 540 K Streamliner of 1938 that took part in the line-up at Goodwood. Thanks to an outstanding Cd value of 0.36, it can reach a cruising speed of up to 170 kilometers per hour and – boosted by its supercharger – a top speed of 185 kph. Dating back to the same era are two record-breaking cars based on the W 25 and W 125 “Silver Arrows,” which Mercedes-Benz also displayed at Goodwood. The W 125 record-breaking car was the one in which Rudolf Caracciola set the absolute speed record on a public road of 432.7 kph in 1938, a record that still stands to this day.
Showcasing its motor sports glory
The full spectrum of Mercedes-Benz’s sporting success since the second half of the 20th century is evidenced by further vehicles in the high-class line-up at the Festival of Speed: the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLS of 1957 is the car in which Paul O’Shea won the American Sports Car Championship. The intervening years up to the present day are represented by a 280 E rally vehicle (W 123) from 1977, a Sauber-Mercedes C 9 Group C racing car from 1988, a Mercedes-Benz 1834 S racing truck of 1996 and a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 customer sports racing car.
O’Shea’s 300 SLS was derived at the time from the 300 SL Roadster (W 198 II). A similar 300 SL Roadster that is currently on the books of the All Time Stars (ATS) at Mercedes-Benz Classic also made a guest appearance at Goodwood. This particular example, built in 1960, has been restored by Mercedes-Benz Classic with meticulous attention to the original detail and authenticity. A second outstanding ATS vehicle is the AMG Mercedes C-Class racing tourer in which Bernd Schneider became runner-up in the International Touring Car Championship of 1996. Both were displayed on the Mercedes-Benz UK stand at Goodwood and are for sale.
Highlights of the 21st Festival of Speed include the displays in the drivers’ paddocks plus the runs up the 1.86-kilometer long Hillclimb and over a woodland rally course. The starting line-up included contemporary racers as well as classic competition vehicles. Representatives of the current Formula One were among the guests at the Festival of Speed 2016. Along with the reigning world champions Mercedes AMG Petronas, six further teams were in attendance while the Formula E teams and drivers also showed up for the occasion.
The Festival, which was instigated in 1993 by Charles Gordon-Lennox, Earl of March and Kinrara, is one of the most important events in the international classic motoring calendar. The event celebrates both the culture and the aesthetic appeal of sporting automobiles and motorcycles centered on racing and sports cars performing a veritable symphony of motor racing history and speed. The organizers, headed up by Lord March as host, are once again this year expecting more than 150,000 visitors from all over the world.