Karl Kling

Karl Kling (16 September 1910, Gießen – 18 March 2003, Gaienhofen on Lake Constance, Germany) was a motor racing driver and manager from Germany. He participated in 11 Formula One Grands Prix, debuting on 4 July 1954. He achieved 2 podiums, and scored a total of 17 championship points.

It is said, that he was born too late and too early. Too late to be in the successful Mercedes team of the ’30s and too early to have a real chance in 1954 and 1955. Unusually, Kling found his way into motorsport via his first job as a reception clerk at Daimler-Benz in the mid-1930s, competing in hillclimb and trials events in production machinery in his spare time. During the Second World War he gained mechanical experience servicing Luftwaffe aircraft, and after the cessation of hostilities he resumed his motorsport involvement in a BMW 328.

Kling was instrumental in developing Mercedes’ return to international competition in the early 1950s, and his win in the 1952 Carrera Panamericana road race, driving the then-experimental Mercedes-Benz 300SL was a defining point in assuring the Daimler-Benz management that motorsport had a place in Mercedes’ future. Called up to the revived Mercedes Grand Prix squad in 1954 he finished less than one second behind the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio on his Formula One debut, taking second place in the 1954 French Grand Prix at the fast Reims-Gueux circuit. This promising start was not to last, and with the arrival of Stirling Moss at Mercedes in 1955 Kling was effectively demoted to third driver. However, away from the World Championship, Kling took impressive victories in both the Berlin Grand Prix (at AVUS, another high-speed circuit) and the Swedish Grand Prix. He left the Formula One team at the end of the season, to succeed Alfred Neubauer as head of Mercedes motorsport. He was in this post during their successful rallying campaigns of the 1960s, occasionally taking the wheel himself. On one such occasion he drove a Mercedes-Benz 220SE to victory in the mighty 1961 Algiers-Cape Town trans-African rally.