Mercedes Benz made history again last weekend. Its stunning Bionic Car completed the first official lap of one of the tracks at its Mercedes Benz World site at Brooklands - 98 years, 4 months and 28 days since Ethel Locke-King led a procession of cars around at the opening launch party back on 17 June 1907.
Under a crisp blue autumn sky, DaimlerChrysler Development Engineer Ralph Hettich, responsible for the Bionic Car project, became the first person to complete the first official lap of the new Brooklands track.
Building work on the impressive 155-acre site continued unhindered as the car completed its first lap of the 0.6 mile circuit loop in a time of 3m32s. Despite the low average speed - due to the 10mph speed limit in force while the site is under construction - the significance of the first lap was not lost on those present.Pioneering spirit
"The Bionic Car perfectly embodies the enduring pioneering spirit of Mercedes Benz, so it was the ideal vehicle to complete the first lap today;" said Peter O’Halloran, Mercedes Benz World Director. "The Mercedes and Benz race cars at the inaugural meeting in 1907 were at the cutting edge of technology for their day, and this Bionic Car is no different. Its revolutionary design and construction shows what the future of motoring could hold, which is why it was chosen for the inaugural lap of our new track."
The new handling courses are still under construction, but already the surface is smooth enough for a complete circuit. After laying the top layer of smooth, grippy asphalt next spring, the completed tracks (totalling 1.55 miles) will give visitors a thrilling chance to experience how the Mercedes Benz cars react to different driving conditions, including ESP tests on wet grip circles.
The handling circuit’s tracks, adjacent 10-acre off-road course, and huge Brand Centre building will be available to customers, families and to companies which have hired the complex’s facilities. Mercedes Benz World is already open to bookings from the end of 2006.
Mercedes Benz World will also function as a vehicle retailer for Maybach, Mercedes Benz and smart models. New and used vehicle sales, service and repair, and accessories will all be available alongside a display of every vehicle in the Mercedes Car Group range.
Displays of the company’s most famous models past and present, interactive displays and a low pressure ‘no hard sell’ atmosphere will all make Mercedes Benz World the perfect venue for a wide range of users of all ages.Future meets past
After completing the first laps of the new circuit, Mr Hettich demonstrated the Bionic Car to families who were spending their day at the Brooklands Museum. He drove along the famous old Members’ Banking, the enthusiastic crowd watching as the car got to within feet of the top of the banked circuit. This makes the Bionic Car the only vehicle in the world to have driven on both old and new Brooklands tracks.
It was an appropriate way to end an afternoon where Brooklands enjoyed a glimpse of the future; a glimpse of a car that features leading edge environmental and safety technology making history; a glimpse of the start of the next chapter in the enduring story of Mercedes Benz and Brooklands.
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