Schnitzer is a name very closely linked with the history of the BMW brand in international motorsport. For more than half a century Schnitzer Motorsport and BMW were in action on racetracks of the world together and celebrated superb successes in a variety of categories. This collaboration also played a significant role in shaping the sports performance and momentum of the BMW brand. Now this long, successful shared journey is coming to an end. A review of victories, titles and triumphs from the 1960s to today.
The success story of the original racing team founded by Josef and Herbert Schnitzer Senior and managed by his half-brother Karl ‘Charly’ Lamm started in the mid 1960s. Lamm’s twin brother Dieter Lamm was also given an important role; he was responsible for the team’s technical processes and logistics until his death in 2014. In the beginning, Schnitzer Motorsport celebrated titles in the German Circuit Championship and the European Hill Climb Championship with BMW racing cars. In 1975, Jacques Laffite won the Formula 2 European Championship in a formula racing car with a BMW engine.
And so it went on: sports cars, touring cars, prototypes, GT racing – the list of triumphs that Schnitzer Motorsport and BMW have celebrated together in international racing is long and impressive. Schnitzer was European touring car champion three times in the 1980s. That was also when the streak of nine wins in the touring car races at the ‘Guia Circuit’ in Macau (MAC) started. Between 1989 and 2010, Schnitzer enjoyed victory at the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring five times and made a significant contribution to BMW being the record winner to date in this endurance classic. The same is true of the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps (BEL), which Schnitzer also won five times starting in 1985. On top of that were the titles with Roberto Ravaglia (ITA) in the World Touring Car Championship in 1987 and in the DTM in 1989, as well as with Joachim Winkelhock (GER / 1995) and Johnny Cecotto (ITA / 1998) in the German Super Touring Car Championship.
Hands down, the major highlights of the partnership also include the overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA) in 1999 with the legendary BMW V12 LMR. It was with that prototype that Schnitzer also won the 12-hour race at Sebring (USA) in the same year. The team claimed the title in the GT standings of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) in 2001. Between 2005 and 2009, Schnitzer competed as a BMW works team in the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) and celebrated a sensational 25 wins as well as a total of 57 podiums.
2012 saw Schnitzer return to the DTM as a works team with BMW – and together they celebrated a triumphant comeback year, with the driver’s title for Bruno Spengler (CAN), the team title for BMW Team Schnitzer and the manufacturer’s title for BMW. BMW Team Schnitzer was active in the DTM until 2016, with a successful record of 25 wins and 88 podiums.
In recent years, Schnitzer continued their activities in GT racing, contesting the International GT Challenge (IGTC) among other series. The win with Augusto Farfus (BRA) at the GT World Cup in Macau is unforgettable. It was Charly Lamm’s final race as team principal before he handed over management of the team to Herbert Schnitzer junior. Lamm passed away unexpectedly just a few weeks later.
In the 2020 season just finished, BMW Team Schnitzer returned to the podium of the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring under new management, finishing in third place with the BMW M6 GT3. As a result of the required realignment of the works-based team structure, the partnership with BMW Team Schnitzer will not continue.
“We are very proud of having played a significant role in shaping international motorsport with BMW for more than half a century and of the respect given to Schnitzer Motorsport throughout the world,” said Herbert Schnitzer junior. “We are also very proud of the successes and titles that we celebrated together over the decades, in touring car racing, in GT racing, at Le Mans, in Macau and at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. We would like to thank BMW for the partnership spanning decades, and for the trust that was always placed in us. We really enjoy looking back on everything we have achieved with BMW. I think that collaboration as long-lasting and as successful as ours was with BMW is unique in motorsport. BMW was our life and our passion.”
BMW Motorsport extends heartfelt gratitude to the Schnitzer family and the whole team for all the decades of successful collaboration.