Historic Mercedes reunion celebrates 1914 French GP victory

| 2 May 2014

Three magnificent 1914 Mercedes titans including Christian Lautenschlager’s winning car returned to Lyon for the centenary celebrations from 28-30 April.

Once again these unsilenced, open-wheel leviathans roared down part of the circuit including the legendary Death Corner near Brignais.

Death Corner

Winner Lautenschlager’s Mercedes  leaves a smoke screen around Death Corner

Jochen Mass was enlisted to drive the factory museum's car, which was uprated in 1922 for the Targa Florio. “I love this car,” enthused the F1 and sports car legend. “It’s much nicer than an SSK to drive. The gearchange is fantastic, and the 4 1/2-litre 'four' really wants to rev.”

Jochen Mass

Jochen Mass felt 1914 machine was light years ahead of 1908 Benz

Joining the museum machine were two impressive 1914 racers that came over from private American collections for the event. Former Oregon state senator George Wingard drove the winning car, while British restorer Eddie Berrisford was trusted with ex-Briggs Cunningham beauty that he’s meticulously rebuilt for the Collier Collection.

Mercedes trio

Wingard leads the historic rerun in the 1914 winner

French authorities made it impossible for the three cars to run the complete 37km road circuit but, after an early morning reunion outside the Place de la Poste in Brignais where pre-race scrutineering was held in 1914, the historic trio gamely battled with busy traffic to run along part of the fast home straight, plus the challenging downhill section to the famous hairpin and original start/finish at Les Sept Chemins.

Mercedes trio

Early morning gathering in Place de La Poste, Brignais

The three cars will return to Stuttgart for a special exhibition in the Mercedes-Benz museum before a one-off public outing at the Goodwood Festival of Speed from 26-29 June. 

Mercedes trio 1914

Team Schnurrbart! Victorious Lautenschlager  (middle) with riding mechanic. They drove the Winning car to Lyon and home to Stuttgart

Mercedes trio

Lyon circuit featured 100 bends , most on the scenic stretch from Givors to Chateauneuf along the Gier river

Les Sept Chemins

Distinctive hotel at Les Sept Chemins hairpin survives but one-way road is diverted to new roundabout

Les Sept Chemins

Famous race inspired many artists including Carlo Demand’s drawing of Les Sept Chemins corner

Mercedes trio

Titans at rest on the very spot team shot was taken in Brignais before important race