The anniversary week of BMW M GmbH is in full swing. The company was founded on 24th May 1972, and this week it celebrates its 50th birthday at the 50th staging of the Nürburgring 24 Hours (GER). The focus will be on the BMW M4 GT3, which is set for its race debut at the endurance classic, which BMW M Motorsport teams have won 20 times in the past. However, the support programme presented by BMW M is also quite something. The BMW M Race of Legends, the M Korso, and M Town are just some of the many highlights on offer to the fans, who will finally be back at the circuit in big numbers.
In the 24-hour race, seven BMW M4 GT3s will be looking to back up the good performances shown in the run-up to the event, and to have a say in the battle for overall victory. Recent wins for ROWE Racing and the BMW Junior Team in the Nürburgring Endurance Series and the 24h Qualifiers have demonstrated the great potential of the new car. It now faces the ultimate test on the most demanding racetrack in the world.
As well as the BMW M4 GT3, many other BMW M Motorsport cars will also line up on the grid; the BMW M4 GT4, the BMW M2 CS Racing, the BMW M240i Racing, and other race cars assembled by private teams take the total number to roughly 30 BMWs, which will take on the challenge of the 24-hour race.
50 years of BMW M: Birthday celebration with guest of honour Jean Todt.
The BMW M2 CS Racing also plays a major role in the highlight of BMW Ms’ birthday programme. The BMW M Race of Legends, in which heroes from throughout the motor racing history of BMW M go head to head, will feature twelve BMW M2 CS Racing cars with a special anniversary livery – similar to that of the Schubert Motorsport BMW M4 GT3. The 30-minute race takes place on the Grand Prix Circuit at 14:00 on Saturday, immediately before the grid forms for the 24-hour race. The BMW legends will also be available to sign autographs, pose for photos and chat to fans all weekend.
Jochen Neerpasch, the first head of BMW Motorsport GmbH, and former FIA president Jean Todt will be in attendance as guests of honour. Todt accepted the invitation he received from a BMW M Motorsport delegation, led by Neerpasch, at the FIA Gala in December 2021. The Frenchman has enjoyed an association with BMW Motorsport GmbH from the very beginning. He and Neerpasch had previously implemented a number of joint projects, and again worked together on the rally scene from 1973. Among other things, Todt won a round of the World Rally Championship alongside Achim Warmbold in a BMW 2002 Ti. Furthermore, Todt made contact with Hervé Poulain, with whom Neerpasch developed the idea of the BMW Art Cars. As a friend and comrade-in-arms, Jean Todt played a very important role in the positive development of BMW Motorsport GmbH.
The traditional M Korso, in which privateers parade round the Nordschleife in their BMW M cars, also takes place on Saturday. In the large M Town activity area on the ring°boulevard and in the neighbouring M showroom, fans can immerse themselves in the world of BMW M. Current and vintage cars are on display here. There is also a show programme with regular interviews.
Quotes ahead of the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
Franciscus van Meel (CEO of BMW M GmbH): “What a week for BMW M! On Tuesday we celebrate the brands’ 50th birthday, as it was on 24th May 1972, under the leadership of Jochen Neerpasch, that the 35-strong BMW Motorsport GmbH was founded. It is unbelievable how it has developed in the five decades since it was formed. BMW M vehicles are icons – both on the street and at the racetrack. Where better to celebrate our birthday than on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife, where BMW M road cars have always been put through their paces, and BMW M Motorsport race cars have made history. I am very much looking forward to a weekend full of highlights: the premiere of the BMW M4 GT3 in the 24-hour race, the BMW M Race of Legends, the M Korso, our M Town, and much more. Above all, however, I am glad that we are finally able to celebrate this festival of motor racing again with all our fans.”
Andreas Roos (Head of BMW M Motorsport): “After months of intensive preparations, the wait is finally over. The Nürburgring 24 Hours is both the highlight of the season so far and the biggest test for the new BMW M4 GT3. The results achieved and the speed shown in previous races on the Nordschleife have been very good. Our teams and drivers have really done an outstanding job, particularly when you consider how little time they have had to familiarise themselves with the finer details of the car. We have shown that we have the potential to challenge for victory on the Nordschleife in the very first year with the BMW M4 GT3 – everyone involved can be very proud of that. However, it is not pure speed that will decide between victory and defeat, but primarily reliability. In this regard, running a new car obviously poses a number of challenges. We have done everything possible to be as well prepared as we can for the ultimate endurance test. However, we are also aware that a 24-hour race can be ruthless. We have an exciting weekend ahead of us.”
Torsten Schubert (Team Principal Schubert Motorsport): “The 24-hour race at the Nürburgring has a special place in the history of Schubert Motorsport. We are delighted to line up with the new BMW M4 GT3 this year and, in doing so, to honour the history of BMW M. We have come close to the podium several time in the past. This time, we want to finish right at the front, and we will do everything in our power to achieve this goal. Furthermore, it will be rather special to appear with my sons in the BMW M2 CS Racing. We just want to enjoy this fantastic race – together with all the fans, who are finally back again. That is something we are particularly pleased about. We really missed that atmosphere.”
Stefan Reinhold (Team Principal BMW M Team RMG): “For us, as a team from the Eifel region, the 24-hour race is obviously the highlight of the season, to which we all look forward. It is fantastic to finally be able to experience that world-famous Nürburgring flair again this year, with big crowds in the grandstands, at the campsites, in the paddock and on the grid. Together with the BMW Junior Team, we have worked hard in recent months to prepare as well as possible for the race with the new BMW M4 GT3. Our results have been very positive. We have shown impressive pace and put on a good show for the fans. We want to back that up in the 24-hour race. However, the challenge for the drivers, team and car is greater than it was in the preparations. Issues like the reliability of the car and consistency of the drivers at day and night, and in any weather, will definitely play a decisive role.”
Hans-Peter Naundorf (Team Principal ROWE Racing): “It is exciting for us to line up at the Nürburgring 24 Hours with the new BMW M4 GT3 for the first time in our seventh year with BMW M Motorsport. BMW M Motorsport has again made it possible for us to compete with a fantastic driver line-up this year. We are thrilled to be working with these top drivers. That is a big privilege and not something that can be taken for granted. We will do everything we can to repay that faith and, two years after its 20th overall victory, give BMW M something to celebrate on its 50th anniversary.”
Niclas Königbauer (Team Manager Walkenhorst Motorsport): “This year’s milestone Nürburgring 24 Hours is obviously one of the highlights of our season. We are delighted to be able to field our three BMW M4 GT3s and finally experience the event together with what we hope will be big crowds at the circuit again. I am sure that the race will again provide plenty of excitement and the Eifel will live up to its reputation. Together with our partner Yokohama, our drivers and fans, we have put together a very strong package, which will allow us to battle for the best possible result and master the 24 hours.”
BMW M4 GT3 line-ups:
#20 Schubert Motorsport:
Jesse Krohn (FIN), Alexander Sims (GBR), Jens Klingmann (GER), Niklas Krütten (GER)
#72 BMW M Team RMG / BMW Junior Team:
Dan Harper (GBR), Max Hesse (GER), Neil Verhagen (USA)
#98 ROWE Racing:
Nick Catsburg (NED), John Edwards (USA), Sheldon van der Linde (RSA), Marco Wittmann (GER)
#99 ROWE Racing:
Connor De Phillippi (USA), Philipp Eng (AUT), Augusto Farfus (BRA), Nick Yelloly (GBR)
#100 Walkenhorst Motorsport:
Henry Walkenhorst (GER), Friedrich von Bohlen (GER), Jörg Breuer (GER), Andreas Ziegler (GER)
#101 Walkenhorst Motorsport:
Christian Krognes (NOR), Andy Soucek (ESP), Sami-Matti Trogen (FIN), Jörg Müller (GER)
#102 Walkenhorst Motorsport:
Jörg Müller (GER), Mario von Bohlen (GER), Ben Tuck (GBR), Jörn Schmidt-Staade (GER)
Start list for the BMW M Race of Legends:
Franciscus van Meel (NED)
Olaf Manthey (GER)
SKH Leopold von Bayern (GER)
Johnny Cecotto (VEN)
Arturo Merzario (ITA)
Harald Grohs (GER)
Bill Auberlen (USA)
Dirk Adorf (GER)
Jochen Mass (GER)
Eddie Cheever (USA)
Steve Soper (GBR)
Eric van de Poele (BEL)