The history of the motor car is full of surprises,
and the fact that Mercedes were so late to break
into the record-breaking scene is perhaps one of
them. As we all well know, the Mercedes was named
after the beautiful daughter of Jellinek, the Austrian
Consul at Nice, who acquired the agency to sell Daimler
cars in France.
So the Mercedes was really the German
Daimler, and Daimler made one of the first cars of
all, way back in 1883. Yet almost 20 years would
elapse before one of the pioneer's cars would appear
on the record scene, although it was only five years
since the first world speed record was set up.
which Vanderbilt drove on this, his second successful
attempt, was the Mercedes model known as the Ninety,
which became well known in European racing. He was
certainly the first man to use Daytona Beach in Florida,
which 20 years later became a popular stretch for
this purpose, until the cars became too fast.
was an orthodox car of its time, front-engined, driving
the rear wheels by chain, with a high seat for the
driver, a lower one for his mechanic, cart springs
all round, and no weather protection at all.
had one advantage over his competitors - being
a millionaire put him at significant financial advantage. He never suffered from a shortage of finances, something
which embarrassed the majority of his competitors.
took his enthusiasm for motor sport back to the United
States and was responsible for persuading others to
organise the Vanderbilt Cup series of races, first
held in 1904 over a circuit in Nassau County, Long
Island. His name would continue to crop up in motor
racing over the years.