Mercedes is celebrating a 120 years in motorsport by taking a look back at some of their earliest cars and the races they competed in.
The story starts in 1894 when two Daimler-powered cars and one Benz model competed in the world’s first race which was essentially a 126 km (78.3 mile) test of endurance, reliability and safety. The Daimler-powered cars - from Peugeot and Panhard & Levassor - were triumphant and shared a first place finish as well as a prize of 5,000 francs. The 3.5 PS (2.6 kW) Benz model wasn't as lucky but still managed to come in 5th.
Unsurprising, the race was a huge success and attracted thousands of spectators. The paper that organized the car, Le Petit Journal, also reported “The convoy is led, flanked and pursued by numerous cyclists, also by a number of vehicles with a mechanical propulsion system which are tackling the route as amateurs.” One of them was Gottlieb Daimler himself.
Interestingly, Mercedes notes the race was important in sealing the fate of steam-powered cars. As the company explains, "The steam-powered tractor of Count Jules-Albert de Dion, which from a modern-day perspective seems utterly bizarre, may well have completed the route in the shortest time, but fulfilled the rules and regulations much less effectively than the more sophisticated motor cars. Other steam-powered vehicles also took part in the competition; three of these, however, failed to complete the 126-kilometre route with its poor road conditions."
Check out the press release for additional information