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Mercedes-Benz Honors John Fitch at Saratoga Museum
Champion Driver Was the Only American on the Mercedes-Benz Team

"John Fitch: An American Racing Hero," exhibit runs from July 29 to November 14, 2006.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - July 25, 2006 -- Mercedes-Benz USA is sponsoring a special exhibit at the Saratoga Automobile Museum to honor champion race driver John Fitch, the only American to race for the Mercedes-Benz team. Fitch ranks alongside other great American sports car drivers such as Dan Gurney and Phil Hill. Entitled "John Fitch: An American Racing Hero," the exhibit will run from July 29 to November 14 and incorporates several special cars -- including recreations of the #417 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing in which Fitch won the 1955 Mille Miglia production class now on loan from the new Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart and a 1952 300 SL Carrera Panamerica race car, along with a Steinway-assembled American Mercedes automobile, and a replica of the 1886 Benz Three-Wheeler Patentwagen, the first-ever automobile.

Fitch was in good company on the Mercedes team in 1955 with Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss and Karl Kling -- the most formidable racing team of all time, winning Formula One, Sports Racing, production GT sports cars and all classes including even diesel passenger cars, all in a single year. A class win in the Mille Miglia was the high point of Fitch's driving career.

Mercedes-Benz is recognizing John Fitch in two ways -- in addition to the Saratoga event, Fitch will be presented with a Mercedes-Benz "Star Driver" award this August during the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in Pebble Beach, California. The Star Driver award pays tribute to legendary Mercedes-Benz race drivers and recognizes their unique contributions to great moments in motorsports.

The Only American Ever on the Mercedes-Benz Race Team

Fitch served as a P-51 pilot in World War II, becoming one of the first Americans to shoot down a German ME 262 jet fighter. Six years after returning from the war, he became the first Sports Car Club of America National Champion, and in the following year he became the only American on the Mercedes-Benz factory race team, driving a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL prototype at the 1952 Carrera Panamerica Road Race. Over the next 18 years, John Fitch's racing career included driving for Mercedes-Benz and the Briggs Cunningham team, with major wins in the Mille Miglia, Tourist Trophy and Sebring. Fitch also drove six times in the Le Mans 24-hour race, finishing as high as 3rd.

However, at Le Mans in 1955, Fitch's co-driver, Pierre Levegh, was involved in the worst accident in racing, killing a number of spectators. This tragedy directed his life into energy-absorbing safety barriers, and resulted in the installation of racing barriers at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen as early as 1968. Among other inventions, the Fitch Barrier is the sand- filled plastic-barrel crash cushion that is commonly seen in front of bridge abutments. Used across the country, it is credited with saving thousands of lives. (Visit the John Fitch website at

About the Saratoga Automobile Museum
Located at 110 Avenue of the Pines in Saratoga Springs, New York, the Saratoga Automobile Museum was established in 2002 to display significant cars, trucks, and vehicles that not only represent the automotive heritage of New York State but the entire world of motorized transportation.

In addition to a permanent collection of vehicles, the Museum is chartered by the Board of Regents of the State of New York Department of Education and hosts a variety of workshops, interactive displays, lectures, and outdoor shows. There are lots to see and do at the Museum for all ages, and Museum admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and active military with ID, $3.50 for kids ages 7 and up, and FREE for kids ages 5 and under. More information is available online at or by calling the museum during business hours at 518-587-1935.

About Mercedes-Benz USA
Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), headquartered in Montvale, New Jersey, is responsible for the sales, marketing and service of all Mercedes-Benz and Maybach products in the United States. In 2005, MBUSA achieved an all-time sales record of 224,421 new vehicles, setting the highest sales volume ever in its history and achieving 12 consecutive years of sales growth. More information on MBUSA and its products can be found on the Internet at and

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