BMW North America Chairman to Drive One of Three BMW-Owned Cars in Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion
It’s not every day that the chairman of an automobile company swaps his suit and tie for a Nomex driving suit and straps himself into a race car, but that’s Ludwig Willisch’s style. As head of BMW North America, Willisch will pilot a 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion August 17-19 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The BMW 3.0 CSL that Willisch will be driving is one of only five team cars campaigned by BMW North America in 1975 and 1976, winning IMSA races at Sebring, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Riverside, Daytona, Lime Rock and Talladega. Among the notable drivers involved in campaigning the 430-hosepower BMW were Hans Stuck, Sam Posey, Brian Redman and David Hobbs, among others.
“I can’t wait to drive the CSL at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca,” said Ludwig Willisch – President and CEO for BMW of North America, LLC. “The 3.0 CSL is a storied car in BMW of North America’s history as it won the 12 Hours of Sebring just days after the subsidiary was founded in 1975. Driving it on an equally legendary circuit will be quite a thrill.”
Complementing the BMW 3.0 CSL in the paddock is the 490-horsepower 1980 M1 Group 4 car with sports car racing champion Brian Redman behind the wheel. This car was campaigned in the 1981 IMSA GTO Series, seeing action at the 24 Hours of Daytona, Watkins Glen and Mosport.
The third entry in the BMW trio is the 800-horsepower 1986 BMW March GTP prototype that will be driven by American Le Mans Series driver David Murry. One of three produced, this car is capable of more than 200 miles per hour. Its lone win came at Watkins Glen in 1986 where Davy Jones and John Andretti set a new race record around the 3.7-mile circuit.
BMW will be celebrating 40 years of M Power at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion with these three BMW-owned race cars and a display of newly introduced production cars, including the new M6 Coupe, 6 Series Grand Coupe’, and M5. Lastly, Reunion visitors can join BMW in celebrating its 2011 ALMS GT Manufacture Championship by getting their picture taken in the company of the BMW M3 GT.
“BMW returns for its second year as an active partner at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, providing fan activities and demonstrating some of the company’s latest models,” said Gill Campbell, CEO/general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “Now, they’re taking even more active participation with fielding three terrific factory cars to complement the 550-plus entries that will be present.”
The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion will run 17 race groups, from pre-war to stock cars. With this year’s Shelby Cobra as the featured marque—celebrating its 50th anniversary—a full grid of 45 period- and mechanically-correct 1960s Shelby Cobras will line up, making for a thunderous start to their race. Add to that, more than 200 Shelby Cobras expected in the Cobra Corral, it will be the largest gathering and tribute to the late Carroll Shelby.
Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion advance general admission tickets start at $50. A three-day ticket is only $130 and includes a complimentary souvenir magazine. Children 12 and under are free with a paying adult. Hospitality options begin at $200 per person.
PHOTO CAPTION: BMW President and CEO Ludwig Willisch will drive this 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion August 17-19. The historic car race and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance are the cornerstones of the famed Classic Car Week on the Monterey California Peninsula.