Mercedes-Benz W 154 formula racing car, 1938

75 years ago: Rudolf Caracciola wins the European Grand Prix Championship for the third time

Stuttgart – Following on from his successes in 1935 and 1937, Rudolf Caracciola became European Champion of the Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus (AIACR) for the third time in 1938. One victory and two 2nd places in three meetings brought the title within reach for Mercedes-Benz’s chief driver of the time. In the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, 3rd place behind Tazio Nuvolari (Auto Union) and Giuseppe Farina (Alfa Romeo) was enough for Caracciola to take the championship in his Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow W 154.

The starting line-up for the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, 11 September 1938. Three Mercedes-Benz W 154 formula racing cars in the first starting row, from the left: Hermann Lang (starting number 26), Manfred von Brauchitsch (starting number 4), Rudolf Caracciola (starting number 12).

The starting line-up for the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, 11 September 1938. Three Mercedes-Benz W 154 formula racing cars in the first starting row, from the left: Hermann Lang (starting number 26), Manfred von Brauchitsch (starting number 4), Rudolf Caracciola (starting number 12).

In the spring of 1939, Caracciola was awarded the German Sports Badge in gold after the 29th International Motor Show in Berlin in recognition of his success. “I won the European championship for the fifth time,“ Caracciola noted contentedly in his memoirs. Prior to the three Grand Prix championships which he won with the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow models W 25 (1935), W 125 (1937) and W 154 (1938), he had claimed the European Hillclimbing Championship in the supercharged Mercedes-Benz SSK and SSKL sports cars back in 1930 and 1931.

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