Mercedes-Benz will celebrate the accomplishments of legendary race driver John Fitch by honoring him as a “Star Driver” at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The Star Driver award pays tribute to distinguished Mercedes-Benz race drivers and recognizes their unique contributions to great moments in motorsports.

Fitch, the only American to have raced on the Mercedes-Benz Team, will become the second driver to earn the Star Driver designation; Sir Stirling Moss was the first recipient in 2005. Fitch and Moss were on the 1955 Mercedes-Benz Team along with other racing legends Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling. The team took wins in Formula One, Sports Racing, production GT sports cars and all classes including even diesel passenger cars, all in a single year.

“In our 120-year history, having John Fitch race for Mercedes-Benz in the 1950s was a highlight and a great honor,” said Paul Halata, president & CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA. “Tonight it becomes our great privilege to mark his place in the annals of racing – as well as our band heritage – with the Mercedes-Benz Star Driver award.”

Fighter Pilot, Racing Legend, Road Safety Pioneer
A P-51 fighter pilot in World War II, Fitch focused on cars after the war and became the first Sports Car Club of America National Champion. In addition to driving for Mercedes, Fitch also drove for the Briggs Cunningham team, with victories in the Mille Miglia, Tourist Trophy and Sebring. He drove six times in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, finishing as high as third.

It was the tragedy at Le Mans in 1955 – which killed a number of spectators and Fitch’s co-driver, Pierre Levegh – that inspired Fitch to design energy-absorbing safety barriers for racetracks. Fitch also turned to public road safety, and his invention, the Fitch Barrier, is the sand-filled plastic-barrel crash cushion that is commonly seen in front of ramps and bridge abutments.

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