BMW brings endurance racing to Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance
BMW of North America, LLC and BMW Mobile Tradition will display two important pieces of the company’s endurance racing history at the March 9th - 11th Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. The grounds of the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island will host the event and the first-ever North American visit of the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy-winning 1939 BMW RS 500 Supercharged Racing Motorcycle as well as the 1941 BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Roadster.
BMW enthusiasts will also enjoy seeing two racing cars that found success at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. In addition to the two prewar machines, BMW will bring an example of the 1999 Le Mans winning BMW V12 LMR and a 1996 BMW-powered McLaren F1 GTR.
1939 BMW RS 500 Supercharged Racing Bike
Since it was first held in 1907, the Isle of Man TT race was dominated by British motorcycles and riders. That ended in 1939 when BMW and its factory team rider Georg “Schorsch” Meier won the prestigious “Senior Tourist Trophy” road race. His BMW RS (Renn Sport) 500 combined telescopic rear wheel suspension (introduced the previous year), the lightest weight of all bikes entered, and a supercharged 500cc boxer engine to record an average speed of 89.38 miles per hour, a new course record.
1941 BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Roadster
In the late 1930s the BMW 328 ruled the 2-liter sports car racing class. One of Europe’s toughest races was the grueling 1000-mile Mille Miglia and for the running of the 1940 Mille Miglia, BMW prepared a team of aluminum-bodied, streamlined roadsters and coupes based on the 328. In addition to increasing the power of the 1971 cc. six-cylinder engine to 135 hp (a sensational value for this time period), the coachbuilding firm Touring, of Milan, Italy, was hired to construct lightweight "Superleggera" aluminum bodies to take full advantage of the increasing understanding of aerodynamics. The lines of the roadsters were similar to the coupe that not only won the two-liter class, but the race overall.
The 328 Mille Miglia Touring roadster was a further development, designed to compete in 1941 in the proposed Berlin to Rome race and the 1941 Mille Miglia, but was never fielded after both races were cancelled due to the war.
61 years later, on the 75th anniversary of the Mille Miglia in 2002, the roadster fulfilled its mission. With husband and wife team of Giuliano and Lucia Canè this BMW Mobile Tradition-prepared 328 took the overall win at the Mille Miglia Historica.
1999 BMW V12 LMR
Jointly developed with Formula 1 partner WilliamsF1, the V12 LMR was built to challenge the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The V12 LMR on display at the concours debuted at the 12 Hours at Sebring in March of 1999 winning the race by the closest margin to-date. Three months later the V12 LMR of Yannick Dalmas (F), Pierluigi Martini (I) and Joachim Winkelhock (D) drove to the front of the field and gave BMW its first ever overall victory at Le Mans. The V12 LMR was the first racing car since 1987 to win both the Sebring and Le Mans classics in the same year.
The V12 LMR continued to compete in the American Le Mans Series, winning races in 1999 at Sears Point, Laguna Seca and Las Vegas – finishing second at Portland and Road Atlanta. In its second year of ALMS competition, the car won twice at Charlotte and Silverstone.
Retiring only twice for mechanical fault in eighteen races entered, the V12 LMR is a testament to BMW’s commitment to advanced automotive design and technology.
McLaren F1 GTR
The McLaren F1 was the world’s fastest and most expensive production car, and no expense was spared in providing it with state of the art technology in every detail. McLaren turned to BMW to develop an engine worthy of this supercar and BMW responded with a 6.0-liter, V-12, developing 636 horsepower.
The F1 GTR was the racing version, which differs only slightly from the production car. Several F1 GTRs were entered in the grueling 24-hour race at Le Mans in 1995. At the end, it claimed victory as well as third, fourth and fifth overall, an unprecedented success for a first-time entry. In 1995, F1 GTRs also won the 1000 kilometer race at Suzuka and the 4-Hours of Silverstone.
In 1996-97-98, McLaren F1 GTRs again took on the challenge of Le Mans, finishing 4th, 2nd, and 4th overall in 1996, ‘97 and ‘98 respectively.