Anyone who knows about the car business will tell you that racing improves the breed. The stresses of wheel to wheel competition helps engineers find a design’s weak spots, improves the reliability of components like brakes, transmissions and engines and points the way to better power and improved fuel mileage.
For decades, BMW has been actively involved in all forms of racing, from Formula 1 to local SCCA members campaigning their personal street car. And they while they have been winning their fair share of trophies, they have also been learning and applying what they learned in the cars they sell today.
Over Memorial Day weekend, BMWs were well represented at the Continental Tire Challenge races held at what BMW, headquartered in northern New Jersey, calls their “home track”. BMWs have practically owned Lime Rock with 6 consecutive Grand Sport class wins at the 1.53 mile twisty, 7 turn bull ring. Its tight confines seem to suit BMW’s combination of superb handling, V8 power and eye popping braking.
In the past, BMW powerhouse Turner Motorsport usually triumphed over the rest of the GS class competition with world class drivers like Bill Auberlen and Paul Dalla Lana at the wheel. But this weekend, Skip Barber Racing School trained pilots Matt Plum and Nick Longhi, driving a BMW M3 for RumBum.com racing came out on top, followed closely by the aforementioned Auberlen and Dalla Lana.
With Plum at the wheel, he managed to hold the lead despite two late race yellow flag restarts that bunched the field, prompting a strong challenge by Turner Motorsport’s Auberlen-driven M3. Auberlen had punched his way through the field but fell short as Plum held the lead for the final 60 minutes of the race. This was Plumb and Longhi’s second GS Grand AM win for 2011 but Auberlen and Dalla Lana maintained and even extended their class points lead with their second place finish. And while Auberlen said in a post race interview that he could have “done something drastic” in the race, he said that “It’s not totally worth the risk I would have taken…” Adding, “It’s all about the championship right now…”
And with a BMW as your ride, and Turner Motorsports as your team, that championship may be within his grasp.
So does racing really improved the breed? Well, this race was BMW’s 18th consecutive Grand AM GS race that BMW has earned at least one podium finish (i.e., first, second or third place) and when you consider the strong competition they have from teams driving Fords and Mazdas, it speaks volumes about the brand.