The BMW Junior Team was first set up in the 1970s. That was a tumultuous time for BMW as the brand was trying to set up a brand identity for the Bavarian manufacturer. The BMW Motorsport division wasn’t more than a few years old when Jochen Neerpasch decided to train his drivers according to a well-designed plan. That’s how he came up with the idea of creating a team of people that would train together, live together and race together.
The first group of trainees included Marc Surer, the Swiss racing driver going on afterwards to win countless races and writing his name on the wall of motorsport with deep black rubber. He was invited by BMW to show the current batch of BMW Junior Team drivers what he had to deal with back in the day, as racing cars have changed beyond comparison over the years.
“For me, it is always like déjà vu when I get back in the old cars,” said Surer. “It only takes a couple of laps before you feel as though you have never been away. You feel at home and everything comes automatically to you. It is all saved away on your hard drive.”
For Harper, Hesse and Verhagen, the adjustment was somewhat larger. “At times, they had to operate the clutch, double clutch, and shift gear in a race car for the first time in their lives,” explained Surer. “For me, it was simpler with all the modern driver aids. The car was a pleasure to drive.”
Speaking about seeing the two generations collide on the track, Jochen Neerpasch was delighted to witness that his program still works: “It was wonderful to see these historic cars back in action. And being able to drive cars like those was like a second Christmas for our BMW Junior Team.
Seeing Marc Surer together with the new generation of Juniors was also interesting. Our principle, that talented youngsters learn faster as a team, worked back then – and I am sure it will work this time too.”