BMWBLOG went to the track at Laguna Seca to attend the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion the weekend of Aug 17-18. Here we got the chance to view the new BMW M4 Concept again and catch up with the BMW Car Club of America at their Festorics Hospitality Tent at turn 5. Hearing race cars in the back ground, I couldn’t get the car parked fast enough.
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BMW of North America had a significant presence there with Ludwig Wilisch, BMW NA CEO, racing a 1975 BMW 3.0 CLS Race Car. This legendary E9 race car ran in Sebring in 1975 and just recently had an engine rebuild by Steve Dinan. A lot of the parts for the 3.5L rebuild had to be made by DINAN as there were no original M48 racing engine parts available. The final out put after the rebuild was 443 hp at 8500 rpm.
Walking around the paddock at Laguna Seca was a jaw dropping experience. There were so many historic race cars they are too numerous to justly describe, so make sure to look at our photo gallery. BMW Classic brought several of their race cars, the 3.0CSL and several M1s. As a huge bonus, the new BMW M4 Concept in Arum Dust color was prominently displayed in the BMW VIP area. In addition to the historic race cars, there were numerous legendary racers such as Bobby Rahal and Jackie Stewart.
The sheer number of people attending the event and the number of historic cars participating is staggering. Single day tickets go for $100. If you RSVP’d with the BMW Car Club of America they were $75 for a day. They also had a very nice hospitality tent with some display cars and some excellent food. It’s a great way to get out of the sun for a while.
Motorsports played a big role in cementing BMW’s image as The Ultimate Driving Machine in the US in the 1970s. Two cars from that era will be featured on track at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion including the BMW 3.0 CSL that won the 12 Hours of Sebring within days of the incorporation of BMW of North America in March of 1975. A BMW M1 ProCar will also be raced. Both cars will be on display throughout The Reunion at the BMW Garage in the race paddock.
The 3.0 CSL race cars were the first cars to be developed under the new BMW subsidiary, established in 1972—BMW Motorsport GmbH. They were also the first to sport the newly designated official colors of BMW Motorsport—red, blue and purple.
The 3.0 CSL that will be campaigned by BMW of North America is one of a team of five cars campaigned by the company in ’75 and ‘76, enjoying considerable success, winning IMSA races at Sebring, Laguna Seca, Riverside, Daytona, Lime Rock and Talledega. Several drivers were involved in the American success of the CSL’s, including Hans Stuck, Sam Posey, Brian Redman, Ronnie Peterson, Dieter Quester, Benny Parsons, Peter Gregg and David Hobbs.
BMW Motorsport saw an opportunity in the mid 1970s to beat arch-rival Porsche in a new racing series by designing and manufacturing a purpose-built racing car and offering it for sale to the public, as stipulated by the rules.
The BMW M1, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and powered by a Paul Rosche-designed 3.5- liter, twin-cam 6-cylinder engine, mounted amid-ships, debuted at the 1978 Paris Auto Show to the admiration of the world’s motoring press. Unfortunately delays with outside contractors caused its appearance to coincide with the demise of the racing category for which it was built. The quick thinking solution was the fast and furious ProCar Series which preceded European Formula One races, pitting the top-five qualifying Grand Prix start against 15 talented local drivers in identically prepared M1’s. The ProCar Series ran in 1979 and 1980 with championships by Niki Lauda and Nelson Piquet, respectively. The M1 Group 4 racer being raced this weekend by BMW of North America was originally campaigned in the 1981 IMSA GTO Series.
[Photo Credits: Chris Hennecy | Kyle Van Hoften | Chuck Vossler]