A trip back in time to the Silver Arrows era with a Mercedes W125 at the 'ring
Is there a sight more evocative than a 1930s Silver Arrow thundering around the Nurburgring? Hard to think of one, Mick Walsh at Classic & Sports Car the brave/lucky individual tasked with taking this priceless Mercedes W125 around the Nordschleife and snapped here by Tony Baker. OK, it's old school. But 600hp horsepower driving 750kg, fed on an exotic brew of methyl alcohol, benzol, ethyl alcohol and regular gasoline is suitably awe inspiring now, let alone 80-odd years ago.
You can read the full story of Walsh's drive in this month's Classic & Sports Car and it's suitably epic, Walsh telling us the car was surprisingly approachable given due respect. And if you want a further taste of what he experienced this Shell promotional film, narrated by Graham Hill and featuring Mercedes Silver Arrows team driver Hermann Lang, is well worth a look.
The other half of the Silver Arrows equation is also in the news today too, Audi announcing that it's bought back an Auto Union Type D - one of two reassembled from parts recovered from behind the Iron Curtain and rebuilt in the early 90s. You can read the full story over at Classic & Sports Car too.
And if you want to see these monsters in action you need to get yourself to the Goodwood Revival in September where a very special re-enactment will take place featuring cars from both Mercedes and Auto Union. See our earlier story for more.
M-B used to have a strict rule about only (ex-) F1 drivers would be allowed to drive their museum Silver Arrows. Not sure Mick Walsh and his flat cap fall into this category!
I remember seeing the slightly later and freshly restored W154 owned by Neil Corner take on a classic Grand Prix grid at Silverstone about 20 years ago. The Merc started last (it was a surprise entry and hadn't actually qualified) and by half way round lap 1 was up to mid-field until some over-excited idiot (Barrie Gillies) spun his sh!tty Riley and T-Boned the priceless Merc. We never even saw it come round for a second lap. AFAIK it was never raced again.
Yes it did hold the LSR, but it was a streamliner - Bernt Rosemeyer who was one of the greatest drivers of the time was killed in one when it was caught by a cross wind
Wonderful film, Herman Lang was always looked down on a bit as he'd come from the factory and was a bit working class compared to Carraciola, Seaman and Von Brausitch - but he was quick. And Alfred Neubauer too, who had been in action only a few years before looking after Moss and Fangio
Great commentary by Graham Hill "It really pays to have the front wheel brushing the hedge here" What a masterpiece of sang froid!
There was a wonderful anecdote about the class divide in the Mercedes team I recall from a book about the period. I think it was von Brauchitsch and it went along the lines of him walking into a hotel bar with Caracciola and Lang and saying something along the lines of "A glass of champagne for myself and Herr Caracciola. And a beer for Lang."
Kind of says it all really - Lang was, as I recall, a mechanic done good whereas the others were your more typical aristocrat types. All of them heroes at the wheel though.
Great commentary by Hill: so blasé about spinning off!
I recall reading a great piece on the Nurburgring and Fangio racing it like a man possessed, this is from his Wiki page;
"In 1957 Fangio returned to Maserati, who were still using the same iconic 250F which Fangio had driven at the start of 1954. Fangio started the season with a hat-trick of wins in Argentina, Monaco and France, before retiring with engine problems in Britain. At the next race, the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring circuit, Fangio needed to extend his lead by six points to claim the title with two races to spare. From pole position Fangio dropped to third behind the Ferraris of Hawthorn and Collins but managed to get past both by the end of the third lap. Fangio had started with half-full tanks since he expected that he would need new tyres half-way through the race. In the event Fangio pitted on lap 13 with a 30-second lead, but a disastrous stop left him back in third place and 50 seconds behind Collins and Hawthorn. Fangio came into his own, setting one fastest lap after another, culminating in a record-breaking time on lap 20 a full eleven seconds faster than the best the Ferraris could do. On the penultimate lap Fangio got back past both Collins and Hawthorn, and held on to take the win by just over three seconds. With Musso finishing down in fourth place, Fangio claimed his fifth title. This performance is often regarded as the greatest drive in Formula One history, and it was to be Fangio's last win"