Ex-F1 and BMW aces entered in legends race at Nurburgring 24
BMW will stage a special 30-minute race prior to the Nurburgring 24 Hours later this month for 12 drivers over the age of 50, including 1989 Le Mans 24 Hours winner Jochen Mass.
The event, billed the BMW M Race of Legends, will commemorate the 50th running of the round-the-clock enduro on the Nurburgring Nordschleife that was first held in 1972 and the half century of BMW's M division.
The international field of drivers will drive 365 horsepower BMW M2 CS Racing models, each sporting an iconic BMW M racing design from the 1970s.
Among the field are ex-Formula 1 racers Mass, Eddie Cheever, Arturo Merzario, Johnny Cecotto and Eric van de Poele - the first four named having contested BMW's famed M1 Procar series that primarily supported F1 grands prix in 1979 and 1980.
At 79, former Ferrari and Frank Williams Racing driver Merzario will be the oldest competitor in the field, going up against drivers who are still active including IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD race winner Bill Auberlen.
Most of the entrants have long and successful histories with BMW.
Former motorcycle champion Cecotto won both the Spa and Nurburgring 24 Hours for BMW in 1990 and 1992 respectively, as well as claiming two STW titles (1994 and 1998) and the 1989 Italian crown for the marque.
Van de Poele took the first two of his five Spa 24 Hours wins with BMWs in 1987 and 1998, also scooping the 1987 DTM title with the manufacturer, before going on to race in F1 for Brabham and the Modena-Lamborghini team.
Johnny Cecotto, BMW 320i
Photo by: Motorsport Images
Former British Touring Car Championship ace Steve Soper will also be in the field. Soper became the first British driver to win the Nurburgring 24 with BMW in 1987 and also won the Spa 24 twice with BMW, famously coming from behind in 1992 and adding another victory in 1995. He also claimed the 1995 Japanese Touring Car Championship title.
Harald Grohs, 78, finished second in the 24 Hours in an M3 in 1989, while Dirk Adorf, the long-time chief instructor of the BMW junior team, was third in the 2010 Spa 24.
Legendary Porsche team boss Olaf Manthey, 78-year-old former DTM and STW racer Prince Leopold of Bavaria and BMW M's CEO Franciscus van Meel will also participate.
Van Meel said: “This year we will be celebrating a huge anniversary party on the weekend of the 24-hour race at the Nurburgring to mark the 50th anniversary of BMW Motorsport and BMW M GmbH.
“There will be plenty of BMW M highlights in store for spectators and fans.
“One special treat will be the BMW M Race of Legends, with a starting grid of racing legends that is rarely seen.
“We would like to thank ADAC e.V. for giving us this opportunity.”
Following three practice sessions across Thursday and Friday, the grid will be set by a half-hour qualifying session on Friday 27 May before the race gets underway just before the 24 Hours on Saturday 28 May.
2022 Bathurst 12 Hour – Start time, how to watch, channel & more
Nurburgring 24h: Catsburg’s BMW tops curtailed first qualifying
Porsche factory driver Laurens Vanthoor says his "nightmare" early crash out of the Nurburgring 24 Hours following contact with his brother Dries was "a black day in my career".
Audi and its Phoenix team scored their sixth overall victory at the Nurburgring 24 Hours, with the #15 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II of Kelvin van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor, Fred Vervisch and Robin Frijns taking honours.
The 50th edition of the Nurburgring 24 Hours could be decided by tyre choice as mixed weather conditions are impacting the final hours of the event.