Mercedes and Auto Racing in the Belle Epoque, 1895-1915

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McFarland, 2005 - History - 363 pages
The history of the Mercedes provides the thread for this book that narrates the early history of automobile racing from the beginnings in 1895 until the First World War in 1915 when racing temporarily ceased. The book focuses on the races themselves, the drivers and mechanics, the engineers in the background and the technical progress of the cars. Automobile racing had its origins in Paris, and French marques and the Automobile Club de France were dominating the scene. But in 1901 a foreign troublemaker emerged, the Mercedes. This German machine was to play a leading role, its career and evolution becoming an image of the whole period. The individuals who built and drove these early racers laid the foundation of a new industry, conceived the modern, high-performance engine, and gave magic to a series of races, which drew ever more spectators and thrilled entire nations. This richly illustrated history answers many questions from this time in automotive history. Early chapters discuss the marketing of the original Daimler engine in France, the position and influence of Emil Jellinek and Wilhelm Maybach, and the great town-to-town and Gordon Bennett races. Later chapters focus on the French Grand Prix, the great crisis of 1909, the voiturette movement, the Mercedes and Benz successes in America, including the record attempts of the Blitzen Benz, and the role of Ernest Henry in the development of the revolutionary Peugeot. Final chapters describe the career of the 4.5-litre Mercedes and its impact on future designs.

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This is the finest work in the subject, period. Mr Dick has included a level of detail that is missing in all other books on the subject of pre WW1 racing. The writing is tight and paints a unique picture of the times and the men that started motor sports. Bravo.

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