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Hermann Lang, legendary driver of Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows would have turned 100, today

Hermann Lang, legendary driver of Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows would have turned 100, today

Apr 6, 2009
Stuttgart
  • European Champion and Hill Climb Champion in 1939
  • Successful comeback after the war on Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing coupé
Hermann Lang was born on 6 April 1909 in Cannstatt near Stuttgart. In the 1930s, he is one of the great racing drivers of the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows. After the Second World War in 1952, he celebrated a keenly awaited comeback on the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing coupé. In 1954, he abandoned professional motor racing, but remained with Mercedes-Benz until retirement as a customer service inspector.
Hermann Lang began his racing career on two wheels and rode an old Norton motorcycle to victory on the Solitude circuit in Stuttgart in 1927 when still an apprentice mechanic. Lang developed into a sidecar specialist as a works rider for motorcycle manufacturer Standard, notching up a series of notable victories during the course of 1931 on his way to the German Hill Climb Championship title for sidecars. In 1933 he was taken on by Daimler-Benz AG as a mechanic in the racing and testing department. Lang was occasionally asked to warm up the brakes for the 750-kilogram-formula cars, which gave him the opportunity to show off his driving talents and secured him a place in a junior drivers’ trial. In 1935 Lang made his first start as a Mercedes-Benz racing driver in the International Eifel Race, going on to finish fifth.
Among his subsequent triumphs were victories in the two fastest races on the global calendar in 1937 – the Tripoli Grand Prix and the Avus race in Berlin. The following season saw Lang further consolidate his position as a leading driver in the
Mercedes-Benz racing team, repeating his success in Tripoli and also taking victory in the Coppa Ciano. Lang, Manfred von Brauchitsch and Rudolf Caracciola formed a trio of Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows drivers who struck fear into the hearts of their rivals at the time. 1939 saw him reel off successive wins in the Pau and Tripoli Grands Prix, the International Eifel Race and the Höhenstrassenrennen race outside Vienna, setting new track records on each occasion. This outstanding run was backed up by further wins in the Belgian Grand Prix, the German Hill Climb Grand Prix and the Grand Prix of Switzerland, allowing him to secure both the European Championship and Hill Climb Championship that year.
The Second World War failed to stop Lang in his tracks, the German driver picking up where he had left off to fend off all-comers in the first major race of the post-war era – the Ruhestein hill climb in the Black Forest– in his BMW 328 Mille Miglia. He then rejoined the Daimler-Benz AG team following its return to motor racing in 1951 after an absence of twelve years, taking one second and one third place in two races held in Argentina that spring. Lang celebrated a keenly awaited comeback in the 300 SL
(W 194) in 1952, taking second place behind Karl Kling in Bern and teaming up with Fritz Riess to claim overall victory in the Le Mans 24-hour race. Lang called time on his racing career after the Grand Prix of Europe in August 1954, but remained with Mercedes-Benz until retirement as a customer service inspector. He died on
October 19, 1987 in his home district of Bad Cannstatt in Stuttgart.
 
French Grand Prix, July 3, 1938: Triple victory for the Mercedes-Benz W 154 racing cars (Manfred von Brauchitsch – Rudolf Caracciola – Hermann Lang).
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Tripoli Grand Prix, 7 May 1939. Hermann Lang won in the Mercedes-Benz 1.5-litre W 165 racing car.
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Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 194) racing car, start of the Le Mans 24-hour race, 1952. At the legendary Le-Mans start, the drivers run from their marked positions to the cars stood opposite them. The second vehicle from the front with starting number 21 is the later winner piloted by Hermann Lang and Fritz Rieß. Right at the front is the 300 SL with starting number 20 piloted by Theo Helfrich and Helmut Niedermayr, who finished second. Photograph from 1952.
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One-two finish at the Grand Prix of Pau, 8 April 1939. Winner Hermann Lang in the Mercedes-Benz 3-litre Formula racing car (W 154). Manfred von Brauchitsch takes second place.
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Coppa Ciano in Livorno, August 7, 1938. Hermann Lang, who was ti win the race, in a racing car W 154 during the starting preparations.
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Doube victory at the Italian Grand Prix in Livorno, September 12, 1937. The winner Rudolf Caracciola and Hermann Lang, who finished in second place.
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German Grand Prix on the Nürburgring, July 23, 1939. From the left: Hermann Lang, racing director Alfred Neubauer and Rudolf Caracciola, who was to win the race.
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Hermann Lang (1909-1987)
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Hermann Lang (1909-1987)
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Hermann Lang during a veteran race, 1973.
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Tripoli Grand Prix, Mallaha, May 9, 1937. The winner Hermann Lang at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz W 125.
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Coppa Acerbo near Pescara, August 14, 1938. The Mercedes-Benz W 154 racing cars driven by Manfred von Brauchitsch (start number 46), Hermann Lang (start number 40) and Rudolf Caracciola (start number 26), who was to win the race, took the lead immediately after the start.
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Quadruple victory in the anniversary Grand Prix for sports cars on the Nürburgring, August 3, 1952. Winner Hermann Lang (start number 21) ahead of Karl Kling (start number 24), Fritz Rieß (start number 22) and, on the left in the background, Theo Helfrich (start number 23), all driving Mercedes-Benz 300 SL sports racers.
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Großglockner mountain race, 6 August 1939. The eventual victor, Hermann Lang (starting number 128), with a Mercedes-Benz W 125 mountain racing car with a 5.6-litre engine.
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Triple victory at the Swiss Grand Prix, August 20, 1939. The winner Hermann Lang (start number 16) in a Mercedes-benz W 154. Second place: Rudolf Caracciola. Third place: Manfred von Brauchitsch.
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Triple victory in the Tripoli Grand Prix, May 15, 1938: Hermann Lang (photo) ahead of Manfred von Brauchitsch and Rudolf Caracciola, all driving Mercedes-Benz W 154 cars.
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The racing team in the Carrera Panamericana Mexico, 1952. (From left): Hermann Lang, Erwin Grupp, Hans Klenk and Karl Kling standing next to the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL coupe (W 194) and John Fitch and Eugen Geiger alongside the 300 SL roadster (W 194).
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Nürburgring 1952: The winner Hermann Lang
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