Race driver Jochen Mass will be the honoree for the 2014 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, scheduled for March 7-9, at the Golf Club of Amelia Island at Summer Beach in Florida.
There are scores of victories on Jochen Mass’ hefty racing resume, but the one that stands out in bold print is the win in France on a June weekend a quarter century ago. Mass shared one of the mighty Mercedes-Benz powered Sauber C9 Silver Arrows in the 1989 24 Hours of Le Mans. Mass, co-drivers Stanley Dickens and Manuel Reuter led a Mercedes sweep of the classic enduro with a 1-2-5 Mercedes-Benz powered finish. Mass and company were the slowest of the three Silver Arrow C9s in qualifying. Despite an early problem running over crash debris, an otherwise fast and measured run saw the Mercedes-powered trio in the lead by 7:30 Sunday morning.
It had been a fast night. The Mercedes-powered Silver Arrows had routinely recorded top speeds above 240 mph on Le Mans’ 3.7 mile Mulsanne straightaway. One pass through the traps yielded a velocity of 253.5 mph! It was and remains the fastest top speed recorded in the history of the 24 Hour race the French call le ronde infernale. The international governing body of motorsport was alarmed by the speeds. For 1990, a pair of chicanes was installed on “the Mulsanne” and the victorious Sauber/Mercedes high speed record still stands.
His victory in the 1989 24 Hours of Le Mans wasn’t Mass’ first long distance win. In 1972 he won the 24 Hours of Spa on the blindingly fast Belgian Grand Prix circuit through the Ardennes Forest with co-driver Hans Stuck. Four decades later, their winning speed record for the Belgian 24 Hour touring car endurance race (116.467 mph) still stands. That same season Mass won the prestigious RAC (Royal Automobile Club) Tourist trophy at Silverstone and scored his first international championship as the 1972 European Touring Car Champion.
His winning performances ushered him into Formula 1. In a long career, Mass made 107 starts and earned one Formula 1 victory in the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona for Team McLaren. In a Formula 1 career that lasted a decade, Mass raced for McLaren, ATS, Arrows, Team Surtees and March.
Three years after retiring from Formula 1 Mass won the 1985 German Racing Championship. In 1987 he joined Indy 500 champion and 2011 Amelia Island honoree Bobby Rahal to win the 12 Hours of Sebring in a Porsche 962. Mass’ resume lists 32 World Sports Car Championship victories and 14 pole positions at the top level of international world championship sports car racing and he has won more Group C races than any other driver.
Now retired, Mass is entrusted to drive historic sports cars and grand prix cars for Mercedes-Benz, including Fangio’s World Championship winning W196 Grand Prix car and Stirling Moss’ record setting 1955 Mille Miglia winner. In 2004 Mass raced the Mille Miglia’s 1000 mile route in Moss’ 1955 winning 300SLR to raise money for charity.
“A career of such accomplishment doesn’t end with retirement,” said Bill Warner, founder and Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. “Jochen has lived many of our dreams and yet he is not satisfied to retreat from the sport. Reuniting Jochen with his Le Mans winning Sauber Mercedes C9 on the silver anniversary of their Le Mans victory is in the true spirit of the reasons ‘The Amelia’ was created 19 years ago.
The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance draws over 250 rare vehicles to The Golf Club of Amelia Island and The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island in Florida. Since 1996, the show’s Foundation has donated over $2 million to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc. and other deserving charities on Florida’s First Coast. The 19th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for March 7-9, 2014.