The late 1950s was known as a pivotal time in the evolution of racing, but with such came great danger. Many drivers were killed in motoring events during this period, be it in Formula 1, Le Mans, or the myriad of other events being held mostly across Europe and America. Perhaps the most dangerous, but also the most prestigious, race of the time was a 1,000 mile road race across Italy called the Mile Miglia.
Stirling Moss tackled the race on behalf or Mercedes in 1955, driving the Mercedes 300 SLR W 196 R. Moss later went on to herald the car as,
The SLR is I think probably the greatest sports car ever built by anybody at any time.
The 300 SLR featured a 3.0 liter straight 8 engine, that was offset 33 degrees to lower the car’s profile. Featuring mechanical direct fuel injection, the car produced 310 horsepower and 235 lb ft of torque.
Traversing the 1,000 mile course in 10 hours and 7 minutes with an average speed of 98 miles an hour, Moss took home the overall win, himself even commenting that the event was one of his greatest victories.
Oddly, Moss’ record stands even to this day, as the race was cancelled in 1957. A crash involving a Ferrari driver took the lives of the two drivers as well as nine spectators, including 5 children. The danger of the race, coupled with the fact it was run on public roads not meant for such an event, meant that the Mile Miglia was cancelled for 1958. In total, the race claimed the lives of 56 people over a period of 30 years.
A revival of the event was launched in 1971 but was limited to cars built before 1957 that has either participated in or registered for the race at one time; this event continues to this day.
To celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of their victory, Mercedes brought Stirling Moss back to the site of the original race, with the original car to run the course once more, while their film crew shot a spectacular 360 degree film of Moss driving. In addition to the excerpt above, the entire film can be found on here on Mercedes’ website.