The 60th annual Rolex 24 At Daytona weekend will provide a grand stage for the start of the worldwide celebration of the 50th anniversary of BMW M. Conceived by automotive icon Bob Lutz when he served on the BMW Board as VP Global Sales and Marketing and catalyzed by the hiring of Jochen Neerpasch as the first BMW Motorsport Director, BMW Motorsport GmbH began to officially represent BMW on racetracks throughout the world starting in May of 1972. Five decades later, and a name shortening to BMW M GmbH, the brand continues to thrive on motorsport competition.
Newly minted BMW NA Motorsport Manager Dan Lubin will be making his “first start” at the race as he takes over for Victor Leleu who held the position for close to a decade, steering BMW NA’s professional and customer racing programs to record success. In honor of the 50th, BMW of North America will host an even greater number of events and displays than usual at this year’s twice-around-the-clock classic. In addition to its long- running title sponsorship of the BMW M Endurance Challenge IMSA Michelin Pilot race, BMW of North America will bring a group of significant BMW M road cars to participate in pre-race ceremonies and be highlighted in parade laps before the green flag waves. From a 1980 BMW M1 – the first M-badged car – to a fully electric 2022 BMW i4 M50, the Speedway will echo with the sounds of BMW M Power. In addition to the many BMWs that will be racing on the Daytona International Speedway, including the all-new BMW M Team RLL BMW M4 GT3, three past IMSA-winning BMW’s – the 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL, the 2015 BMW Z4 GTLM and the 2019 Rolex 24 winning BMW M8 GTE – will be on display in the Rolex 24Heritage Exhibition in the Daytona Fan Zone.
BMW M will once again be title sponsor for the 4-Hour Michelin Pilot Challenge race for GT4 specification race cars. A total of four M4 GT4 race cars run by three race teams will be looking for victory in the BMW M Endurance Challenge on Friday. The sixth-generation BMW M3 and M4 road cars will serve as safety and pace cars for the event and two members of the BMW M management team will serve as the Grand Marshal and Starter for the season opening race.
“Naturally, we are very proud to have played a role in a good portion of the history of BMW Motorsport,” stated Bobby Rahal, BMW M Team RLL Team Principal. “For us, signing with BMW back in 2008 (for the 2009 season) was a huge honor as I’ve said many times – so for us to be part of this 50th anniversary of BMW M is really something special. I remember when the 3.0 CSL BMWs came to IMSA in 1975 and dominated everything they entered – so it has been very special for us to follow in the footsteps of that program. We are super excited about racing the new M4 GT3. Once again introducing a new race car to BMW fans like we have done with the M3, M6, M8 and Z4. We have been fortunate to have success with each of those cars which makes it exciting to embark on this new project and hopefully have more success with this great new chassis in 2022. It is also going to be a new challenge competing head-to-head with the privateer teams in the GTD Pro class. BMW M Motorsport has assembled another great driver lineup and our drivers will have to give us their best. There are a lot of good drivers in GTD and we’re looking forward to the competition.”
The Rolex 24 At Daytona takes the green flag at 1:40 p.m on Saturday January 29th. The four-hour BMW M Endurance Challenge gets the weekend started at 1:35 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22. Both races will be broadcast and rebroadcast on a mixture of NBC channels.