Two months before the end of WWII, an American P-51 Mustang was shot down over Germany. The pilot was Captain John Fitch and he spent the rest of the war as a POW. Ten years later, that same John Fitch teamed up with a German co-driver to drive a German car for a German team in an Italian race. The co-driver was Kurt Gesell, the car was the Gullwing 300SL, the entrant was none other than the Mercedes-Benz factory team and the race was the famed Mille Miglia of 1955. This just serves to illustrate that John Fitch was more than just a racecar driver. He was a visionary. He understood that past conflicts were just that: In the past. There was no need to rekindle nationalism and emotions of WWII. He understood that motor racing would become a worldwide affair, and so it was that the unlikely team of Fitch and Gesell scored a GT class victory in their beautiful black Gullwing 300SL.
This original acrylic on canvas painting, created by Swiss automotive fine artist Nicolas Hunziker, was auctioned off by the Saratoga Automobile Museum during their Drive for Excellence dinner on May 16. All proceeds from the sale went toward John Fitch’s battle with the state of Connecticut to prevent the foreclosure of his home [see VR, May 2009, Fitch Needs Our Help, p. 10].
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