The 60th anniversary of Sir Stirling Moss’s 1955 Mille Miglia victory will be celebrated at the Festival of Speed with an astonishing, never-before-seen, gathering of Mercedes-Benz 300 SLRs.
Few performances match the Festival’s 2015 theme of ‘Flat out and Fearless’ as well as Moss’s victory on the iconic, 1000-mile, time-trial from Brescia to Rome and back.
Just eight 300 SLRs survive today and seven of them will be at this year’s FoS, in a beautiful display of both open top and coupe bodies.
Moss himself will be reunited with 300 SLR chassis 0004/55, the same car in which he completed the gruelling run, co-driven by journalist Denis Jenkinson, and bearing the #722 – the car’s allotted start time at the event. The same car also bore him to victory in that year’s Tourist Trophy (with John Fitch) and Targa Florio (alongside Peter Collins).
The 300 SLR was a brand new design for the successful 1955 season, housing a powerplant derived from the 2.5-litre, straight-eight engine that powered the W196 Formula-1 car, but bored out to three litres and producing 310bhp.
With desmodronic valve gear and a direct fuel-injection system derived from the engine of a Messerschmitt BF109 fighter plane, plus a lightweight chassis and body (SLR stands for Sport Light Racing) it achieved phenomenal success during its one season of competition and was described by Moss as ‘the greatest sports racing car ever built’.
Juan Manuel Fangio won the Eifelrennen and Swedish Grand Prix in chassis 0003/55 as well as taking the runner-up spot to Moss on the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio – the Argentinian joined by Karl Kling for the latter race. The car also finished third at the Tourist Trophy, raced by Kling, Andre Simon and a young Wolfgang von Trips.
Fangio also raced 0005/55 to the runner-up spot behind Moss in the TT alongside Fitch, while the latter added fourth spot in the Targa with Desmond Titterington.
A pair of SLRs were converted to coupe form to compete in the 1956 World Sportscar Championship, but, with Mercedes still reeling from the 1955 Le Mans disaster, and withdrawing from all motorsport, they were instead converted to road-legal spec and acted as daily transport for the company’s chief racing car designer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut.
Ticket information is available from www.goodwood.com or via the Goodwood Ticket Office on 01243 755055.