Three DTM championship titles, three Le Mans victories, the 1998 FIA GT championship and countless further triumphs: Klaus Ludwig is one of the most successful touring car and sports car racing drivers ever. On 5 October 2019 the Mercedes-Benz racing driver will be celebrating his 70th birthday. For ten years “King Ludwig”, his honorary title amongst his fans, has been working as a brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz Classic.
Klaus Ludwig’s enthusiasm for motorsport is in his blood. This becomes immediately clear as the former Mercedes-Benz racing driver and long-standing brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz Classic takes a seat in one of the most successful competitive vehicles of the brand at events today. And the fascination really becomes palpable when “King Ludwig”, his honorary title amongst his fans, tells tales of his countless races and championship titles – or of the immense joy of racing together with his son Luca Ludwig.
Versatile and exceptional motorsport racer
The versatile and exceptionally successful racing driver will be celebrating his 70th birthday on 5 October 2019. He was born in Bonn in 1949. As a child he would already visit races at the Nürburgring with his parents. He began his career in motorsport at the start of the 1970s with slalom races, orienteering drives and touring car races. After championship titles at the Deutsche Rennsport-Meisterschaft (German Racing Championship, DRM) in 1979 and 1981 as well as three victories at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1979, 1984 and 1985, as of 1985 Ludwig took part in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (German Touring Car Championship, DTM). He claimed his first title there in 1988 with Ford.
Attachment to the performance models of the W 201
In 1989 he signed for the AMG-Mercedes team. Now the star of the DTM racing driver really was rising: till 1994, Klaus Ludwig won a total of 19 races and, after finishing runner-up in 1991, he won the DTM championship title in both 1992 and 1994. Ludwig celebrated his greatest successes of this period predominantly with the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II (W 201) and (from 1994) AMG Mercedes C-Class DTM (W 202) DTM touring cars. Klaus Ludwig was involved in the DTM relaunch as Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (German Touring Car Masters) in 2000, and finished both the season and his racing driver career in 3rd place of the overall ranking in an AMG Mercedes CLK DTM touring car (C 209).
As the DTM champion Klaus Ludwig personally bid farewell to the last vehicle to be produced at the Bremen factory in the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II series sports car as it rolled off the line, a circle was complete. The racing driver had experienced the unique motorsport career of the popular “Baby-Benz” right from the start: in May 1984, at the “Race of Champions” to re-open the Nürburgring, he was one of 20 selected racing drivers to drive the first 16-valve Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3-16 in a version modified for the race.
FIA GT champion and brand ambassador
It is not only in the DTM that Klaus Ludwig was successful: in 1997, he became a member of the AMG-Mercedes team of the international FIA GT championship. In the Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR and CLK-LM GT racing sports cars Ludwig, together with Ricardo Zonta, won the 1998 drivers’ championship, with the team trophy going to AMG-Mercedes.
Officially Klaus Ludwig ended his active racing-driver career in 2000. But he keeps contributing to automotive development with his great experience and knowledge of motorsport. The highlights include the Maybach Exelero, a high-performance vehicle designed together by Daimler and tyre manufacturer Fulda. In 2005, Klaus Ludwig set a world record for saloons with series tyres in the Exelero on the Italian race track in Nardò at 351.45 km/h.
Since 2009, Klaus Ludwig has been working as a brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz Classic. The racing driver attends Mercedes-Benz events with various vehicles from 125 years of motorsport of the automotive classic: the legendary Goodwood Festival of Speed in Great Britain forms a part of this just as much as historic motorsport circuits, exhibitions and classic rallies do.
Even in the year of his 70th birthday Klaus Ludwig is constantly on the move. At the Mercedes-Benz Classic Insight “125 Years of Motorsport” in April 2019 he offered inspiration in Silverstone, Great Britain, as a contemporary witness of the first DTM era. Together with influencer Shareen Raudies (@shareenqueen on Instagram) he took part in the 2019 Silvretta Classic Rallye Montafon in a Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II – truly a royal duo. And with his son Luca Ludwig, who is himself a successful racing driver, the birthday boy tells a fascinating father and son story of motorsport at the 2019 Classic Days Schloss Dyck.