150 years ago, Adolf Daimler was born as the second son of Gottlieb Daimler on 8th September 1871 in Karlsruhe. Like his brother Paul Daimler (Technical Director of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft between 1907 and 1922), he also made a career for himself in automotive engineering. After having graduated in Mechanical Engineering, Adolf Daimler started out at the company in 1899, before being appointed to the Board of Management and becoming Chief Operating Officer of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft in 1907.
One year prior, he had raced in a Mercedes 70 hp with a four-cylinder engine at the Herkomer-Konkurrenz Rally, one of the most popular automotive events at the time. This vehicle was said to be a tuned version of the Mercedes 65 hp with a displacement of 9.2 litres. The touring car rally can be traced back to painter, artist and automotive aficionado Hubert von Herkomer. In 1906, a whole 115 years ago, a field of 159 vehicles covered the second edition’s total distance of 1,700 kilometres.
Mercedes had been very successful at the first Herkomer-Konkurrenz Rally in 1905, considered the successor to the Gordon Bennett Cup races. Flinsch & Co., at the time the German Mercedes general distributor based in Frankfurt/Main, proudly placed a full-page advert in the Berliner Tageblatt newspaper on 27 August 1905. It stated that “in a field of 80 competing vehicles, 13 were Mercedes and 7 of these finished in the top 15 classed as having finished the race. Three Mercedes claimed first prize.”
At the wheel of these three Mercedes were Edgar Ladenburg, Herman Weigand and Willy Pöge. The advert described the “specialist test of the vehicle’s usability and effective output” as the aim of the rally: four-seater touring cars featuring four seats, wings, lighting, rain guards and a luggage compartment had to prove their endurance, everyday suitability and reliability.
The public’s interest in the Herkomer-Konkurrenz rallies – held between 1905 and 1907 – was vast. As a result, the passion for the motor car, then still a quite recent development, grew across Germany and Europe. At the rally’s second edition between 5 and 13 June 1906, Emil Neumaier (Benz) finished as the runner-up, followed by Willy Pöge and his Mercedes. Prince Heinrich of Prussia, Emperor Wilhelm II’s brother, also took part in the Herkomer-Konkurrenz Rally.
Between 1908 and 1910, he continued to organise the race as the “Prinz-Heinrich-Fahrt” with virtually unchanged regulations. Adolf Daimler died on 24 March 1913 in Tübingen at the young age of only 41. Ever since 1997, the Herkomer-Konkurrenz Rally has been revived as a rally for classic cars in and around Landsberg am Lech, a town in southwest Bavaria.
Source: Motorsport history of Mercedes-Benz – Newslettter 3/2021 (Dated 9th September 2021)