BMW M1 Procars Revived at the Austrian Grand Prix
It might have first taken to the track 37 years ago, but the BMW M1 will once again take to the track to warm up motorsport fans at this year’s round of the F1 World Championship Race at Austria’s Red Bull Ring. This opportunity to see the M1 in action is courtesy BMW Group Classic’s revival of the Procar Series through the Legends Parade at the Spielberg-based track.
The first Procar Race took place at Zolder, Belgium, in 1979 with contemporary Formula 1 drivers competing in identical BMW M1s against national sports-car professionals, privateers and upcoming racing professionals. Taking part in the event at the Austrian Grand Prix include three-time F1 World Champion Niki Lauder, who – back in 1979 – won three Procar Races and ultimately took the season title with 78 points, piping Hans-Joachim Stuck by just five points.
The spectacle in Austria will echo the 1979 season with not only Lauda back in the driving seat, but his biggest rival Stuck piloting the same car he drove back in 1979 and 1980, as well as Jochen Mass, Christian Danner and Marc Surer – all driving the cars they previously raced. Austria’s own Dieter Quester and Sepp Manhalter represent the home crowd, whilst three other former F1 drivers, Gerhard Burger, Jos Verstappen and Jan Lammers are joined by ex DTM pro Harald Grohs and BMW band ambassador Leopold Prinz von Bayern complete an extremely competitive field.
BMW’s M1 needs little introduction; it was the first car to be developed from scratch by BMW Motorsport GmbH to compete in racing. It had the marque’s M88 straight-six which, which was a direct development of the 277hp version used in the M1 road car. In conformity with Group 4 regulations, the race engine produced 470hp at a towering 9,000rpm – an aural delight for drivers and spectators alike. Indeed, drivers are said to still revere the overall feel and on-track abilities of the M1 Procar.
The Procar revival at the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix is the latest in a line of BMWs being used to celebrate the history of motorsport. The 14 former racing cars in the Procar Series which were registered for the Legends Parade are currently almost without exception in the ownership of private aficionados and collectors who are as fascinated by their comeback on the race track as the drivers. Two of them will even enjoy the privilege of being able to race in their own vehicle.
No doubt, it’ll be a fantastic, nostalgic event for any BMW fan luck enough to attend the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend.