BMW is the featured marque at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion taking place this week at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Upwards of seventy BMWs will be on track at some point during the four days of on-track action and several of those were brought out by BMW themselves. Classic race cars that have been seldom seen since being replaced in competition emerged from storage to relive their glory days. One of those cars is an old hero of mine: the BMW M3 GT from the final days of the American Le Mans Series.
I got into ALMS pretty late in the game, only getting to my first race at the 2010 Petit Le Mans. I went in not knowing much other than that I really liked road racing and the BMW M3. Team RLL raced with two beautiful M3 GTs similar to the one pictured. Seeing those cars (and all the others in the 2010 ALMS field, for that matter) fly through the rolling hills of Road Atlanta was a phenomenal sight. It was one of the best experiences of my life, but right at the end, things got really interesting. The leading (I think) Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT ran out of fuel with a lap or two to go which allowed one of the BMWs to get just enough points to narrowly clinch the Team and Manufacturers championships for the season. The friend that forced me to attend is about the biggest Ferrari fan on earth. I thought our friendship was over.
Fortunately it wasn’t and we got to see more ALMS races together, including the last one. I would have come back whether BMW had won or not, but seeing this car do so well on my first ALMS race and then continue to kick ass over the next two seasons left a huge impression on me. In a way, this is the car that helped solidify my love for endurance racing and for BMW Motorsports. The car pictured is the 2011 season car, the same one my friend and I got to see race for its final time. I got to see it on track again today. It looks, sounds, and feels exactly how I remember it.
[Image © 2016 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]