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No ordinary amateur

2 years ago

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Andrew English | Journalist


9 February 2022

By the time the cars got to Firenze, the 978-mile, 1952 Mille Miglia race seemed almost over. In torrential winds and rain, sportscar specialists Karl Kling and Hans Klenk in their slippery, 3-litre direct-injection Mercedes-Benz 300 SL coupé were four minutes ahead of the next car in a bumper field that had originally numbered 501 starters.

(So few photographs of Giovanni Bracco exist today that we were in two minds about publishing this story. In the end, we decided it was too good to leave on the cutting room floor for the sake of a few photos. In any case, Andrew English’s wonderful writing more than makes up for the lack of images.) 

Having dubbed the race ‘a Homeric struggle‘, MotorSport magazine noted that the new Mercedes spaceframe coupés with their gullwing doors showed ‘the writing on the wall’. With typical thoroughness, Mercedes had tested its cars over the entire route at least ten times, which in fuel costs alone were estimated at over £2000, or more than £60,000 today. Klenk had even devised a special spiral-bound-notebook pacenote system, which he communicated to Kling via a tin megaphone hung around his neck.

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