MONTEREY, Calif., August 19, 2006 – Mercedes-Benz, the world’s first carmaker, will celebrate the accomplishments of legendary race driver John Fitch, one of the great American sports car drivers, by honoring him as a “Star Driver” at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
The Star Driver award pays tribute to distinguished Mercedes-Benz race drivers and recognizes their unique contributions to great moments in motorsports. Fitch, the only American to have raced on the Mercedes-Benz Team, will become the second driver to earn the Star Driver designation; Sir Stirling Moss was the first recipient in 2005. Fitch and Moss were on the 1955 Mercedes-Benz Team along with other racing legends Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling. The formidable team took wins in Formula One, Sports Racing, production GT sports cars and all classes including even diesel passenger cars, all in a single year.
“In our 120-year history, having John Fitch race for Mercedes-Benz in the 1950s was a highlight and a great honor,” said Paul Halata, president & CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA. “Tonight it becomes our great privilege to mark his place in the annals of racing – as well as our band heritage – with the Mercedes-Benz Star Driver award.”
Mercedes-Benz USA recently honored Fitch with sponsorship of a special exhibit at the Saratoga Automobile Museum in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The exhibit featured a reproduction of the renowned #417 300 SL racecar that Fitch drove to a class win in the 1955 Mille Miglia. Fitch will drive that car, which is currently on loan from the new Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, when he leads this year’s Pebble Beach Tour of the Monterey Peninsula.
This year’s Pebble Beach Tour commemorates the world’s first car company with “A Mercedes-Benz Star Drive Celebrating 120 Years of the Automobile.” Another star of the Tour will be a replica of the world’s first car, the Benz three-wheeler for which Karl Benz received a patent in 1886 and that gave birth to the automobile age.