US GP: Mercedes-Benz winning heritage pre-dates Indy

Victory in Inaugural U.S. Grand Prix at Brickyard Next Goal for Silver Arrows MONTVALE, N.J. (Sept. 14, 2000) -- Mercedes-Benz had already won five automobile races throughout the world before entering the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in...

Victory in Inaugural U.S. Grand Prix at Brickyard Next Goal for Silver Arrows

MONTVALE, N.J. (Sept. 14, 2000) -- Mercedes-Benz had already won five automobile races throughout the world before entering the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911 at the now-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A Mercedes-Benz entry finished fourth that year, and Ralph de Palma went on to win the prestigious race for Mercedes in 1915. Mercedes-Benz triumphed again in 1994 with champion driver Al Unser Jr.

On Sept. 24, a new era will begin at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when the green flag drops for Formula One's United States Grand Prix (USGP), and Mercedes-Benz will be there. The race will be run on a new purpose-built road course that incorporates part of the Brickyard's famed oval. The West McLaren Mercedes team of two-time defending World Champion Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard will be competing for the honor of becoming the first winner of a USGP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the history of Formula One.

The USGP dates to 1959, when Bruce McLaren, founder of the West McLaren Mercedes team, won the inaugural event at Sebring, Fla. Through the years, the USGP was held at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway (1960), and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International Raceway (1961-77 and 1980). Long Beach, Calif., hosted races for a time (1976-79 and 1981-83), as did Las Vegas (1981-82). In fact, between 1976 and 1984, two USGPs were held each year. Detroit replaced Las Vegas in 1983, and Detroit and Dallas both had races in 1984. In 1985, Detroit became the sole site of the USGP through 1988. The race then moved to Phoenix in 1989, and ran for three years until the final event in 1991. Now, it's been almost a full decade since Americans enjoyed a USGP.

Victory in the 2000 USGP would be a remarkable accomplishment, and would add to Mercedes' already-storied motor sports history:

<pre> Timeline of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

1894 The world's first race, from Paris to Rouen, France, takes place July 22. The first four cars home are powered by a 954cc V2 engine designed by Gottlieb Daimler (a.k.a. Daimler-Benz, now DaimlerChrysler).

1895 In the "Great Race of 1895," the first auto race held in the U.S., Oscar B. Mueller's four- horsepower Benz Victoria wins a 90-mile heat against Charles and Frank Duryea's horseless carriage Nov. 2 in Illinois. The heat was in preparation for a 52.4-mile street race from downtown Chicago to Evanston, Ill., and back, three weeks later. In that event, Mueller becomes unconscious from exposure in the bitter cold during the 10-hour race, and finishes second -- earning a $1,500 cash award.

1901 In the Nice-Salon-Nice race in France, Daimler's cars appear as Mercedes cars, owing their name to Daimler importer and racing driver Emil Jelinek's daughter Mercédès. Wilhelm Werner wins.

1903 Camille Jenatzy wins the Gordon Bennett race in Ballyshannon, Ireland, in a Mercedes.

1908 Christian Lautenschlager wins the French Grand Prix at Dieppe in a Mercedes ahead of the two Benz grand prix cars driven by Frenchmen Victor Héméry and Rene Hanriot.

1914 Lautenschlager wins the French Grand Prix heading a podium sweep of 4.5-liter Mercedes grand prix types. Ralph de Palma's Mercedes wins the Vanderbilt Race in the U.S.

1915 De Palma wins the Indianapolis 500, the first victory for Mercedes-Benz at Indy. De Palma's 115-horsepower Mercedes engine powers him to a record speed of 89.84 mph, despite breaking a connecting rod three laps before the end of the race and crossing the finish line firing on only three cylinders. The victory earns him $22,600.

1926 Mercedes captures its first German Grand Prix as Rudolf Caracciola wins at Avus in Berlin.

1927 Caracciola wins the Eifel Race, the inaugural Nürburgring event, in the sportscar Model S.

1930 Caracciola wins the European Sportscar Championship in the Mercedes SSK.

1931 Caracciola wins the European Hill Climb title for sportscars in the Mercedes SSKL.

1934 The "Silver Arrow" name for Mercedes is born as Manfred von Brauchitsch wins the Eifel Race in a Mercedes W25 built for the new 1,650-pound formula. The original white color of the car has to be scraped off to reduce weight, leaving base silver aluminum body panels. Caracciola and Fagioli win the Italian and Spanish Grands Prix.

1935 Mercedes wins seven grands prix and Caracciola becomes European Champion.

1936 Caracciola wins the Monaco and Tunis Grands Prix.

1937 Mercedes drivers win six grands prix -- Hermann Lang (two), von Brauchitsch (one) and Caracciola (three) -- with Caracciola clinching the European title.

1938 Mercedes clinches four grands prix victories and Caracciola wins the European Championship.

1939 Mercedes wins five grands prix and Lang takes the European title.

1952 Mercedes resumes its racing activities and starts to compete in sportscar events, including victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Lang and Fritz Riess and the Carrera Panamericana road race in Mexico with Karl Kling.

1954 Mercedes' comeback in Formula One takes off with the one-two finish of Juan Manuel Fangio and Kling in the French Grand Prix, the race debut for the in-line eight-cylinder 2.5-liter-engined Formula One race car. Fangio becomes world champion with three more grands prix wins.

1955 Mercedes wins six grands prix -- five with Fangio and one with Stirling Moss -- the latter clinching Moss' maiden victory at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Fangio wins his second world title for Mercedes.

1988 Mercedes-Benz resumes factory involvement in the World Sports Prototype Championship (WSPC) with the Swiss Sauber Team and, separately, in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) spearheaded by AMG.

1989 Mercedes wins the WSPC title for manufacturers and drivers, claiming victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the C9 sportscar.

1990 Mercedes wins its second consecutive WSPC world title for manufacturers and drivers with Jean-Louis Schlesser/Mauro Baldi. The Junior Program is launched with Michael Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Karl Wendlinger trained by Mercedes-Benz in Group C.

1991 Mercedes claims victory with Schumacher and Wendlinger in the C291 at the final World Sportscar Championship outing for Mercedes-Benz at Autopolis (Japan).

1992 Mercedes-Benz and the AMG team win the DTM Touring Car Championship title with Klaus Ludwig driving the 190E sedan.

1993 Mercedes-Benz announces it will become the engine partner for Sauber in Formula One and for Team Penske in IndyCar for 1994, following the acquisition of shares in Ilmor Engineering. Mercedes scores its 50th DTM victory and is runner-up in the championship.

1994 Mercedes-Benz's purpose-built pushrod engine wins the Indianapolis 500 in the Penske of polesitter Al Unser Jr. The new Mercedes C-Class takes the DTM title with Ludwig winning 11 out of 24 races. Mercedes-Benz and McLaren announce their new partnership, starting with the 1995 Formula One World Championship.

1995 The McLaren Mercedes team finishes fourth in the Constructors' Championship in its first year in Formula One. Highlights of the year are Mika Hakkinen's two second-place finishes in the Italian and Japanese Grands Prix. Bernd Schneider wins the DTM and ITC Touring Car titles in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class of the AMG team. Unser Jr. finishes as runner-up in the IndyCar Series as Mercedes-Benz engines power six victories.

1997 Mercedes-Benz earns its first Formula One victories with McLaren, as David Coulthard wins the Australian and Italian Grands Prix to finish third in the Drivers' Championship, and Hakkinen takes the victory in the European Grand Prix to finish sixth. West McLaren Mercedes finishes fourth in the Constructors' Championship. Mercedes-AMG and Schneider win the FIA GT Manufacturers' and Drivers' titles, taking six victories in 11 races. In the CART series, Mercedes-Benz claims the Manufacturers' Championship by winning nine races -- more than all other competitors combined.

1998 Hakkinen and West McLaren Mercedes win the Formula One Drivers' and Constructors' Championships. Coulthard finishes third in the Drivers' Championship. Hakkinen wins eight races; Coulthard wins one. Mercedes-AMG claims the drivers' and teams' titles in the FIA GT Championship with Ludwig and Ricardo Zonta. Mercedes-AMG takes a record 10 victories in 10 races. Mercedes-Benz engines win two CART races with Greg Moore.

1999 Hakkinen wins his second consecutive Formula One Drivers' Championship title, taking five victories along the way. The Finn becomes the first Mercedes driver since Fangio to win back-to-back world titles.

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Ricardo Zonta , Al Unser Jr. , Mauro Baldi , Bernd Schneider , Klaus Ludwig , Bruce McLaren , Juan Manuel Fangio , Jean-Louis Schlesser , Stirling Moss , Greg Moore
Teams Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Team Penske