The history of motorsport and record-breaking drives at Mercedes-Benz is one of successful striving for the very best technology and the ultimate in performance, as demonstrated by the Stuttgart-based brand with its presence at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. The Hillclimb at Goodwood will see 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.
Just how deep this sporting tradition goes will be ably demonstrated on the weekend of the Festival by a Mercedes 120 hp 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 will be part of the line-up at Goodwood. Thanks to an outstanding Cd value of 0.36, it can reach a cruising speed of up to 170 km/h and – boosted by its supercharger – a top speed of 185 km/h. Dating back to the same era are two record-breaking cars based on the W 25 and W 125 “Silver Arrows”, which Mercedes-Benz will be displaying 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 km/h in 1938, a record that still stands to this day.
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 is also putting in 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 vehicles are being displayed on the Mercedes-Benz UK stand at Goodwood and are for sale.
The 21st Festival of Speed takes place from 23 to 26 June 2016. The event opens on the Thursday (23 June) with the “Moving Motor Show”, an opportunity for the world’s automotive and motorcycle manufacturers to present all their latest models. From Friday (24 June) until Sunday (26 June), visitors can enjoy the full Festival of Speed programme. Highlights here include the displays in the drivers’ paddocks plus the runs up the 1.86 km-long Hillclimb and over a woodland rally course. The starting line-up includes contemporary racers as well as classic competition vehicles. Representatives of the current Formula 1, for example, will be among the guests at the Festival of Speed 2016. Along with the reigning world champions MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS, six further teams are expected, while the Formula E will also be making its debut this year at Goodwood. The estate will be open each day from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., with action starting on the Hillclimb at 8.45 a.m.
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 centred on racing and sports cars performing a veritable symphony of motor racing history and speed. The organisers, headed up by Lord March as host, are once again this year expecting more than 150,000 visitors from all over the world.