Mercedes-Benz Classic at the 2012 Grossglockner Grand Prix
As a classic car event, the 2012 Grossglockner Grand Prix on this unique High Alpine Road is a homage to the legendary „Mountain Grand Prix“ races held there in the 1930s. 92 bends, 14 hairpins, almost 15 kilometres and an altitude difference of almost 1300 metres present a challenge for man and machine now as they did then. As in the original race, the route is from Ferleiten to Fuscher Törl (Austria).
Mercedes-Benz is competing in this revival of the race with a Mercedes-Benz SSK, a model which was also very successful in mountain races from 1928 to 1935, and with a W 125 „Silver Arrow“ from the 1930s. W 125 racing cars already took part in the original events in 1938 and 1939, and in 1939 Hermann Lang drove one to victory.
In the 2012 Grossglockner Grand Prix the driver’s paddock will be established at the Ferleiten toll station in line with historical precedent. A maximum of 75 cars will take part. The field is limited to 50 pre-war cars, 5 Veritas cars and 20 racing cars from the 1950s. The post-war cars will participate as a homage to other famous mountain races.
After a practice run, the drivers will set their own time target in a “timed run” and must confirm this twice. They will therefore cover the route four times. The road will be closed to normal traffic for the duration of the event. There will be signposted areas for fans and spectators in immediate proximity to the action.
After the mountain prize, which will be competed for on the Thursday and Friday (20 and 21 September 2012), there is the option of booking an additional Rally Day for Saturday 22 September 2012. The rally route, known as the “Alpine Challenge” will cover 160 kilometres of mountains and valleys in the national park of Hohe Tauern, and will also include the Grossglockner High Alpine Road. Speed is not the primary consideration in this event, but rather driving pleasure and an appreciation of the scenery.
The original Grossglockner races
The first Grossglockner mountain race took place in 1935. The route was covered only once and immediately rated, the winner being Mario Tadini in an Alfa Romeo. The next two events were held there in 1938 and 1939, and in the “Mountain Grand Prix” the drivers were required to absolve two runs of the pass road. The event was seen as Europe’s longest and most difficult mountain race. The initial plan was to include the complete, almost 38-kilometre long stretch of the high alpine road from Fusch to Franz-Josefs-Höhe, including two tunnels. However, the route was eventually shortened to around 15 kilometres.
Mercedes-Benz first took part in 1938, with Hermann Lang and Manfred von Brauchitsch driving W 125 cars. In adverse weather conditions with fog and rain they achieved 2nd and 3rd place behind Hans Stuck driving an Auto Union. In the following year, Hermann Lang emerged the winner of the Grossglockner race, ahead of Hans Stuck and Hermann Paul Müller in Auto Union cars. This brought him the title of “Mountain Champion” six weeks after having already won the Vienna mountain race. Manfred von Brauchitsch had bad luck owing to the changeable weather: on his very first run he encountered a bank of fog in his Silver Arrow and came fourth. In the Grossglockner race the W 125 cars entered by the Mercedes-Benz racing team competed in their mountain racing versions for the first time, with a modified cooling system and lower final drive ratio.
The Mercedes-Benz Classic cars at the 2012 Grossglockner Grand Prix
Mercedes-Benz SSK 27/170/225 hp (W 06 series), 1928
The SSK (W 06 series) is the most exclusive and evocative of the supercharged six-cylinder sports cars in the Mercedes-Benz S-series. The model designation stands for Super-Sport-Kurz (super sport short), reflecting its particular sportiness and shortened wheelbase. In summer 1928, works driver Rudolf Caracciola in the brand new SSK immediately won the Gabelbach race and the races on Schauinsland and Mont Ventoux. In 1930 and 1931, the SSK carried him to victory in the European mountain championship. The weight-reduced, performance-enhanced version from 1931, also known as the SSKL (Super-Sport-Kurz-Leicht; super sport short light), likewise achieved spectacular successes. A major one was its victory in the legendary 1000-mile “Mille Miglia”: in April 1931, Rudolf Caracciola driving an SSKL was the first non-Italian to win this gruelling road race from Brescia to Rome and back.
Technical data of the road version of the Mercedes-Benz SSK 27/170/225 hp
Production period: 1928-1930
Cylinders: 6 in-line
Displacement: 7065 cc
Output: 170 hp (125 kW), 225 hp with supercharger (165 kW) at 3,300 rpm
Maximum speed: 192 km/h
Mercedes-Benz W 125, 1937
In 1937, Daimler-Benz entered the lists with a completely new racing car. The W 125 was based on the findings of its designer Rudolf Uhlenhaut, who had been technical manager of the newly formed racing department since mid-1936. The backbone of the car is a robust frame of nickel-chrome-molybdenum steel with four cross-members. The torsional rigidity of the car without its engine was able to be increased to three times that of the preceding model W 25.
The “Silver Arrow” was equipped differently depending on the race track: the transmission, fuel tank capacity, carburettor, supercharger, tyre and wheel sizes, tyre tread and external dimensions varied from race to race.
The eight-cylinder in-line engine had a much higher output than in the preceding W 25, already generating 550 hp (404 kW) when the season began. By the end of the racing season, this figure had increased to 592 hp (435 kW). This was partly thanks to modification of the suction carburettor and “wet supercharging” – a process in which the supercharger compresses the already prepared fuel-air mixture.
On 9 May 1937, the new racing car celebrated its premiere with Hermann Lang’s victory in the Tripoli Grand Prix. The entire season was very successful, with Rudolf Caracciola, Hermann Lang, and Manfred von Brauchitsch achieving prestigious victories.
Technical data of the Mercedes-Benz W 125, 1937
Production year: 1937
Cylinders: 8 in-line
Displacement: 5663 cc
Output: 592 hp (435 kW)
Maximum speed: over 320 km/h
The driver for Mercedes-Benz Classic in the 2012 Grossglockner Grand Prix
Born on 30 September 1946 in Dorfen near Wolfratshausen (Bavaria).
Jochen Mass, who started his working life as a seaman, began his varied career in motor sports in 1968, competing in touring car races for Alfa-Romeo and as a works driver for Ford from 1970 to 1975. During this time he won the 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps (1972). In parallel to this he took part in Formula 2 (1973) and in 105 Formula 1 Grand Prix races (1973/74 with Surtees; 1975-1977 with McLaren; 1978 with ATS; 1979/80 with Arrows; 1982 with March).
Having won the German Sports Car Championship in 1985 and competed as a works driver for Porsche until 1987, he became a works driver in the Sauber-Mercedes team. Until 1991 he drove for this team in Group C. In the new “Silver Arrow”, the Sauber-Mercedes C 9, Jochen Mass together with Manuel Reuter and Stanley Dickens achieved victory in the 24-hour race in Le Mans and became world vice-champion in 1989. Three years later Mass became part of the team management for the DTM.
Sir Stirling Moss has described him as “a driver with an enormous feeling for racing cars and great technical knowledge, who is familiar with every era in racing history”. It is therefore hardly surprising that to this day, Jochen Mass is behind the wheel for Mercedes-Benz at historical events such as the ADAC Eifel race at Nürburgring. Whether the W 125 “Silver Arrow” or the Mercedes-Benz SSK, Jochen Mass knows and drives them all.
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