You can’t call yourself a true BMW fan if you don’t know who Jochen Neerpasch is. In my book, his impact on how this brand developed is hard to quantify, especially since without him we wouldn’t have a number of things, including the Motorsport division. Hired in the early ’70s to create a proper racing division in Munich, Neerpasch managed to turn the BMW roundel and the letter M into true icons.
He did it with a lot of hard work, starting from scratch. Actually, if you look over his life’s story you’ll notice he was never afraid of starting over every once in a while. He did it time after time and not just because he didn’t get the support he needed at first but also because that was the better way to go. This way he could make sure everything was done to his exact instructions. He was also the one who founded the BMW Junior Team.
The aim of the BMW Junior Team was to bring forward the best talent and then integrate them into different types of motorsport series. Initially, the focus was on Touring racing and the first three drivers to actually compete, following the training they received as part of the BMW Junior Team entered legend later on: Marc Surer, Eddie Cheever and Manfred Winkelhock.
These three won countless races over time and started with a bang in 1977 as Surer won the race on his first outing (starting from pole position) while Winkelhock came in third, against veterans mind you.
All three drivers later on went to race in Formula 1 and the program started by Jochen Neerpasch is still running, every year. The best of the best young drivers are taken in to be trained and prepared for the best racing performance they can deliver.
According to the video below, Neerpasch is apparently going to join the team again but there hasn’t been any official confirmation yet as to how or in which capacity the founder of the BMW Junior Team will, once again, be involved.