Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The most outstanding car at the LaJolla Concours de Elegance was the legendary Blitzen Benz, land speed record setting automobile from 1909 that has been raced by Eddie Rickenbocker and Barney Oldfield

now here are the incredibly large hi res photos of the engine if you want them for your wallpaper

A gallery of vintage photos of the Blitzen Benz I've posted before: http://justacarguy.blogspot.com/2010/10/galley-of-photos-of-blitzen-benz.html

faster than any contemporary plane, train or automobile.

The first record-breaking outings of the 200-hp Benz provided early indications that this was a model destined to push back the boundaries. Indeed, the speeds which this car was aiming for meant that it quickly outgrew the confines of European race circuits. Benz & Cie. knew that this would not be a problem in the USA and the decision was quickly taken to cross the Atlantic. Achieving further success with the record-breaking car in the States – an important overseas market – would not be bad for business...

And so, after completing a series of trial runs around Mannheim, the car was shipped off to America in January 1910 - new body and all. The plan was for George Robertson to go head-to-head with the car against Ralph de Palma, who held records on a host of American circuits. However, not everything went according to plan.

After discovering that Jesse Froehlich had taken delivery of the car, event manager Ernie Moross proposed a deal with the New York-based Benz importer: his 150-hp grand-prix Benz plus 6,000 dollars in exchange for the record-breaking racer. The wily businessman even had a catchy name in mind – this was a lightning-fast car, so why not call it the "Lightning Benz". The name was painted onto his new purchase.

Moross’ driver Barney Oldfield duly lined up at Daytona Beach in Florida on March 17, 1910 without any kind of specific preparation for his first record attempt – and duly posted a new world best of 211.97 km/h. However, the A.I.A.C.R. (Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus), the highest authority in car racing and the precursor to the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) which governs motor sport today, refused to recognize the record because the Benz had not covered the distance in the opposite direction as well – as specified in the competition guidelines – with the average from the two runs determining the valid speed.

Undeterred, Moross organized a series of show events for the "Lightning Benz". However, the car’s name was soon to lose its sheen in the eyes of its restless owner, who replaced it with the German translation "Blitzen-Benz" – presumably with the aim of further accentuating the car’s roots – and had a small German Imperial Eagle painted onto the right-hand side of the hood.

Excerpted out of context, where the article points out that more than one Blitzen Benz was made and shipped to the US for racing, and promotions, to sell more Benz cars

Benz versus Benz

The first meeting of the Blitzen took place on September 30, 1912 in St. Louis, where the two 200-hp Benz cars came face to face on the starting line. The event captured the imagination of American sports reporters, prompting rather over-the-top references to the new Blitzen as the "300-hp Jumbo-Benz", even though both cars had the same size engine.

 The two cars lined up alongside each other for further record attempts on San Diego beach shortly before Christmas 1912, with the second-generation model now also afforded "Blitzen-Benz" status. During the attempt, a fire broke out on one of the cars, presumably Blitzen-Benz I, prompting the quick-thinking Burman to steer it quickly into the Pacific waters to put out the flames. Moross spent 4,000 dollars on restoring the car to its former glory.

In 1914 the Blitzen-Benz II stretched its legs over the salt lake in Bonneville, Teddy Tetzlaff recording a speed of 229.85 km/h. The car went on to compete in various races up to 1917, after which things become less clear. It is likely that the 200-hp Benz was bought in 1917 by Ralph Hankinson, a dirt-track race organizer. However, with his business subsequently entering into bankruptcy it appears that the car was snapped up by a carnival society sometime around 1919. From there the trail runs cold.

Lucian found and posted this terrific video


  1. Fantastic car, is it the same as the first one to beat a record at Bonneville ?

  2. a spectacular car ...
    wonderful in the past and present