Sir Stirling Moss
Driving Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR
At Mille Miglia Once Again!

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Sir Stirling Moss

23rd Mille Miglia Storica from 19th - 22nd May, 2005

  • Record unbroken for 50 years:
    Best time ever clocked up by winners
    Moss and Jenkinson in 1955

20th May, 2005

Back in 1955 when Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson – the British team within the Mercedes-Benz racing stable – lined up at the start in the 300 SLR with start number 722 (corresponding to start time 7.22 p.m.) in the north Italian town of Brescia, nobody would have thought that this number would acquire a legendary status. Ten hours, seven minutes and 48 seconds later, the car crossed the finishing line in Brescia, having covered 1,600 kilometers at an average speed of 157.650 km/h (97.96 mph) – a sensational record time that has remained unbroken to this day and earned the team a fixed place among the all-time Mille Miglia best.

The victory was attributable not only to the perfect harmony between the two Englishmen, the great technical competence of the Mercedes-Benz racing team and the reliability of the 300 SLR but also to an ingenious idea of navigator Denis Jenkinson who had invented the prototype of all future road books. During the tests, Jenkinson had noted down all the important details of the route on three long strips of paper for each leg: the tightest corners, level crossings, dangerous hilltops, easily overlooked bypasses, etc. – plus the maximum possible speeds at these individual points. In this way, the navigator was able to warn his driver, Stirling Moss, when approaching one of the critical spots, by means of hand-signs the two had agreed prior to the race.

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1955: Denis Jenkinson (left) and Stirling Moss (right)

Stirling Moss back at the wheel of “his” 300 SLR 50 years later

Two things, which are unique in the history of this race, will enhance the scenario of technical scrutineering in Piazza Vittoria and the start of the 23rd Mille Miglia Storica. First of all, the fastest racing transporter in its day and age, with a special aerodynamically styled driver’s cab, will take the original 300 SLR with start number 722 from Stuttgart to Brescia, and secondly, Stirling Moss will drive his famous 722 off the start ramp – half a century after his legendary victory and record. This time, Moss will team up with his colleague Jochen Mass as Denis Jenkinson died five years ago.

When the starter's flag sends off the 300 SLR from 1955 with the Moss/Mass team from the start ramp, the unmistakable sound of the eight-cylinder engine will send shivers down the spectators’ spines. At that moment, the legend of the Mille Miglia will come alive again, arousing great emotions among the thousands of fans.

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Historic photograph from the mid-1950s
of a Mercedes-Benz racing car transporter

Inseparably associated: The Mille Miglia and Mercedes-Benz

The first automotive race on the route Brescia - Cremona - Mantua - Brescia was staged on 10th September, 1899, but the real Mille Miglia goes back to the year 1927. Until then, a small circle of enthusiastic motorists had been competing in a long-distance race in the area of Brescia. They eventually opted for a longer route and divided the race into three, successively longer legs; the turning point for the total distance of 1,000 miles was to be Rome. Since 1930, the name Mercedes-Benz has also been inseparably linked with this famous racing spectacle. In that year, Rudolf Caracciola finished in sixth place at the wheel of an SSK. Only one year later, in 1931, he clinched the first overall victory for Mercedes-Benz, driving an SSKL and being cheered on enthusiastically by many fans.

After World War II, the Kling/Klenk and Caracciola/Kurrle teams finished in second and fourth place, respectively, in the overall rankings of the 1952 Mille Miglia, driving prototypes of the 300 SL. And, as is well known, the Moss/Jenkinson team, driving a 300 SLR, established a new record in 1955. In the same year, Juan Manuel Fangio, equally driving a 300 SLR, finished as runner-up even though he had to do without a navigator throughout the race. And that was still not all: the American/German pairing Fitch/Gesell (300 SL) clinched victory in the GT category above 1.6 litres, and the Retter/Larcher team (180 D) for the first time drove a Mercedes-Benz passenger car to victory in the diesel category.

The last Mille Miglia in its original form – as a timed long-distance race – was staged in 1957. Twenty years later, in 1977, the race was revived in the form of a classic car competition – though as a regularity trial rather than a proper race. In this new format too, the teams continued the success story of the Mercedes-Benz brand. In 1986, the Schildbach/Netzer team clinched overall victory with a 1929 SSK. Italian driver Valseriati clinched two overall Mercedes victories, driving a 300 SL from 1955 with navigator Favero in 1989, and a 300 SL prototype from 1952 with navigator Sabadini in 1997.

Even though the teams in their elderly legends on wheels complete the traditional stages of the Mille Miglia much more peacefully these days – stages on which fierce battles for victory were fought in the old days – the racing cars of years gone by still conjure up the overwhelming fascination of the tough races of yesteryear. The unfading thrill is attributable first and foremost to the fact that the cars stand for the outstanding technical competence in their day. And with this aura, each individual car, be it powerpack or noble lightweight, renders its contribution to the exceptional legend of the Mille Miglia.

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Stirling Moss after the 1955 Mille Miglia

Daimler Chrysler at the 23th Historic Mille Miglia

The German/American group is taking part in the 2005 Mille Miglia with 35 vintage cars, of which 33 Mercedes Benz: four 720 SSK, two 680 S, one 180 D and one 220 a, plus 25 units of the 300 SLR and 300 SL.

For the second time Chrysler will be present at the starting line with two vintage cars from the Museum in Aubrun Hills: a 1930 Chrysler Model 77 roadster and a 1951 Chrysler Saratoga. The 77 roadster is the lineal discendent of the remarkable car that Walter P. Chrysler introduced under his name in 1924.

Chrysler took part in the 1929 and 1930 Mille Miglia.

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Left: 1930 Chrysler Model 77 Roadster will be driven in the 2005 Mille Miglia by Thomas Hausch, Executive Director of International Sales and Marketing for the Chrysler Group. Right: 1951 Chrysler Saratoga Club Coupe, will be driven by Joe Eberhardt, Executive Vice President, Global Sales, Marketing and Service for the Chrysler Group

2005 Mille Miglia: Only 375 out of 780 applicants accepted

The growing popularity of the Mille Miglia is reflected, among other things, by the growing number of applications year after year. As many as 780 teams applied for participation in the 2005 race. The number of participants is, however, limited to 375 cars. This year, teams from 22 countries and 6 continents will line up, among them teams from Argentina, Australia, Colombia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and the United States of America.

Italy, the hosting country, provides the largest contingent with 146 cars, followed by Germany (with 76 cars), the United States (36), the UK (28), Switzerland (21), Japan (12) and the Netherlands (12). The “rolling motor sport museum” will show up in Brescia with 55 legendary brands, among them brands as rare as Alvis, Amilcar, Bizzarini, Bottega, Ermini, Moretti, Roselli, Squire and Stanga. The most strongly represented brand will be Alfa Romeo (with 37 cars), followed by Ferrari (35), Mercedes-Benz (33), Lancia and Porsche (25 each), Bugatti (23) and BMW (21).

Popular festival with motor sport atmosphere

Each year, large crowds of enthusiastic classic car racing fans set out in the direction of Brescia for the Mille Miglia weekend. It begins on the Thursday before the race, with the ritual of registration and the technical scrutineering of all participating classic racing cars in Piazza Vittoria from 9.30 a.m. until 6 p.m., a procedure that captivates the spectators time and again. Nowhere else is the original atmosphere of the race as tangible and the scenario as intriguing. And nowhere else do you meet as many personalities from the world of classic motor sport then and now as in the cafés on the ancient Piazza Vittoria. The Mille, as it is affectionately called, is therefore simply a must for every classic car race fan.

This year too, a respectful silence will fall upon the scene when the first engines will be started in Viale Venezia shortly before 8 p.m. and the thundering sounds are echoed by the old city walls to announce that the 2005 Mille Miglia is on.

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Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR
with Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson on board
in the 1955 Mille Miglia

Historical race on routes steeped in tradition

By tradition, the Mille Miglia consists of three legs. Both the programme and the route correspond to those of the original races of bygone years. With a total length of 1,259.48 kilometers, this year’s three legs will be 213 kilometers shorter than last year, but then the route will have a surprising lap through the town in store, from the start in Viale Venezia, first leading up to Piazzale Arnaldo and the Cidneo, the fortress high above the town. The convoy will then drive down Via San Faustino, across Piazza della Loggia, Piazza Paolo VI, Corso Zanardelli, Piazzale Arnaldo and past the recently opened Museo della Mille Miglia. Then the convoy will leave the town behind and continue via Desenzano, Bussolengo and Verona to Ferrara.

<>The second novelty will await the participants at the end of the first stage. Behind Ostiglia, the route will wind its way to Occhiobello and Pontelagoscuro, crossing the Strada Statale from Rovigo and approaching Ferrara from the north, along Viale Cavour and Corso Martiri della Libertà to Piazza Trento e Trieste.

The third novelty will be encountered on the route from Spoleto to Rome on the Statale Norcia-Cascia; this year, the route will run via S. Anatolia di Narco, Gavelli, Leonessa and Rondo di Terminillo in the direction of Rieti. From here on, and as in the past, the route will lead along the Via Salaria to the center of Rome.

The fourth novelty will be waiting on the stretch of road behind the section from Siena to Florence. The convoy will initially follow the traditional route on Apennine pass roads, across the 903 meter high Passo della Futa, via Poggibonsi and on in the direction of Bologna. Then the convoy will be directed along Viale dei Martiri della Libertà in Modena to a museum in honor of the great Italian racing driver Tazio Nuvolari.

And finally, another novelty is scheduled for the end of the event. After the traditional winners’ ceremony at the Auditorium San Barnaba in Corso Magenta on the Sunday, the participants will be bid farewell this year with a great festive lunch in the stylish setting of the recently opened Museo della Mille Miglia in Sant’Eufemia.

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The restored 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR used in the 1955 Mille Miglia
will be driven again by Stirling Moss in the 2005 Mille Miglia


Thursday, May 19, 2005: 1st leg

9.30 a.m. – 6 p.m.: Technical scrutineering in Piazza della Vittoria, Brescia
8 p.m.: Start of the first car in Viale Venezia
0.02 a.m.: Expected arrival of the first car in Ferrara, Piazza Trento e Trieste

Friday, May 20, 2005: 2nd leg

8.30 a.m.: Start of the first participant
8.44 p.m.: Expected arrival of the first car at the “Panorama” parc fermé in Rome

Saturday, May 21, 2005: 3rd leg

6.30 a.m.: Start of the first car in the direction of Brescia
9.40 p.m.:Expected arrival of the winner in Brescia and crossing of the finishing line in Viale Venezia

Sunday, May 22, 2005: Winners’ ceremony

11 a.m.: Winners’ ceremony
1 p.m.: Festive lunch

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Sir Stirling Moss
behind the wheel of the historic Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR

The three stages of the 23rd Mille Miglia Storica

In keeping with tradition, the route of the 23rd Mille Miglia Storica will again include three stages:

·        BresciaFerrara (177.66 km)

·        FerraraRome (528.17 km)

·        RomeBrescia (653.65 km)


1st stage (177.66 km):

Brescia - Verona - Ostiglia - Occhiobello – Pontelagoscuro – Ferrara
After the start at one-minute intervals between 8.00 p.m. and 10.04 p.m. on Thursday, the route leads from Viale Venezia through the town of Brescia, then via Bussolengo (9.35 p.m./11.39 p.m.), Verona (9.50 p.m./11.54 p.m.) and Ostiglia (10.50 p.m./0.54 a.m.) to the first stage’s destination, Ferrara (0.02 a.m./2.06 a.m.).

2nd stage (528.17 km):

Ferrara - S. Marino - Urbino - Furlo – Spoleto – Monte Terminillo – Rieti – Rome
On Friday morning, the cars set off from Ferrara between 8.30 a.m. and 10.34 a.m. this year. The convoy takes the route via Argenta to the historical center of Ravenna, the Piazza del Popolo (10.00 a.m. /12.04 p.m.), where large crowds await the cars. The route then leads via Cesenatico to Gambettola (10.55 a.m./12.59 p.m.) and on to the checkpoint on Borgo Maggiore Piazza Mercato in San Marino (11.45 a.m./1.49 p.m.). The cars continue across Piazza Libertà and past the Castello di Fiorentino to Mercantino di Conca (12.14 p.m./2.18 p.m.); behind Auditore the route leads up to Urbino and the Piazza Rinascimento (1.20 p.m./3.24 p.m.).

From here, the convoy follows the road to Canavaccio and Calmazzo and crosses the Passo del Furlo (1.48 p.m./3.52 p.m.) and the Gola del Furlo and subsequently passes through the town of Furlo. The cars continue through Scheggia, Osteria del Gatto, Gaifana and Foligno to Spoleto (4.20 p.m./6.24 p.m.). The route then leads via Palombara and S. Anatolia di Narco to the center of Leonessa (5.32 p.m./7.36 p.m.). Past the Monte Terminillo and through Pian de Rosce, Lisciano and Vazia, the cars continue on the S.S. 4 Salaria to the Piazza C. Battisti in Rieti (6.42 p.m./8.46 p.m.).

Behind Rieti, the second stage draws to a close. The cars first continue on the S.S. 4 Salaria, then, from Maglianello Bassa, on the Raccordo S.S. 4 and back on the S.S. Salaria to Rome. As early as the time checkpoint on Piazza Navona (8.32 p.m./10.36 p.m.), the arrivals are received with great applause. Driving through streets lined with spectators, the cars cover the last seven kilometers to the day’s destination, the “Parco Chiuso – Panorama” (8.44 p.m./10.48 a.m.)

3rd stage (653.65 km):
Rome – Viterbo – Siena – Poggibonsi – FlorenceBolognaModenaCarpi - Brescia
On the Saturday morning, the starter flag comes down for the third and, at 653.65 km, longest stage – between 6.30 a.m. and 8.34 a.m. as in the past. The cars set off from Via Aurelia in the direction of Ronciglione (7.46 a.m./9.50 a.m.) near Lago di Vico and on to the checkpoint on Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. They continue through a nature reserve past Monte Venere (838 meters) and across the Passo Monti del Cimino (8.07 a.m./10.12 a.m.). Ten kilometers on, they drive through Porta Romana and Porta S. Pietro to the Piazza del Plebiscito in Viterbo (8.28 a.m./10.32 a.m.). Past the eastern shore of Lago di Bolsena and after 60 kilometers, the convoy reaches Radicofani (9.52 a.m./11.56 a.m.) to wind its way through the historical center of the famous mountain village (10.08 a.m./12.13 p.m.). From here, the route leads via Pienza (10.45 a.m./12.49 p.m.), Buonconvento (11.43 a.m./1.47 p.m.) and across Piazza del Campo in Siena (12.37 p.m./2.41 p.m.). About an hour later, the participants reach the time checkpoint under the eyes of large crowds of spectators on Piazza Signoria in Florence (2.27 p.m./4.31 p.m.).

Having passed through a number of towns, the participants now tackle the mountains, crossing first the 903 meter high Passo del Futa (3.29 p.m./5.34 p.m.) and then the 960 meter high Passo della Raticosa (3.46 p.m./5.51 p.m.) before driving through Monghidoro (3.57 p.m./6.01 p.m.) and on to the Piazza del Nettuno in Bologna (4.55 p.m./6.59 p.m.). The next destination is Viale Martiri della Libertà in Modena (5.51 p.m./7.55 p.m.) where there is a museum in honor of the great Italian racing driver Tazio Nuvolari.

From here, the Mille Miglia sets out on the final 170-kilometer-long leg to Brescia. Via Carpi, Novellara, Brescello (7.07 p.m./9.12 p.m.), Viadana and Casalmaggiore (7.28 p.m./9.33 p.m.), the cars, meanwhile far apart, reach Piazza Duomo in Cremona (8.22 p.m./10.26 p.m.).

Behind Castellverde and Dello, Semaforo Centro (9.06 p.m./11.11 p.m.), the convoy approaches Brescia on the Via Labirinto and past the Mille Miglia Museum (9.36 p.m./11.40 p.m.) to the finishing line in Viale Venezia. The cars are expected to arrive between 9.40 p.m. and 11.44 p.m. – and every single one is welcomed with rapturous applause. Teams which cross the finishing line before 0.44 a.m. score points. After that point in time, teams arrive in the knowledge that they were part of a great spectacle and at least made it to the finish.

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Mercedes-Benz advertisement from 1955

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