Paul Rosche, the engine wizard who guided BMW to multiple international racing successes, including the Formula One World Championship and victory at Le Mans, has passed away at the age of 82.
Joining BMW fresh out of university in 1957, Rosche logged 42 years with the Bavarian company. In 1969 he designed the two-liter turbo engine with which BMW won the European Touring Car Championship, then took over as head of design for the M1 production and racing engines upon joining BMW Motorsport GmbH in 1975.
In 1980, as Technical Managing Director of BMW Motorsport GmbH, Rosche, together with Dieter Stappert, laid the foundation for BMW’s first Formula One involvement and the subsequent success of BMW engines in F1’s original turbo era. Rosche and his team turned a four-cylinder production engine displacing just 1.5 liters into a World Championship winner. Sixteen valves, a turbocharger and — in a first for Formula One — digital engine management electronics allowed the resulting engine to produce around 800 hp.
Other successful examples of Rosche’s engines were the two-liter, four-valve, four-cylinder that racked up more than 150 race wins and six titles in the European Formula Two Championship, and the 6.0-liter V12 that powered the overall winner at Le Mans in 1995 and 1999.
Following BMW’s withdrawal from F1 in 1987, Rosche continued as Technical Managing Director of BMW M GmbH until 1996. Subsequently, as Technical Director and Managing Director of BMW Motorsport Limited, he led BMW into Formula One as an engine manufacturer for a second time, prior to his 1999 retirement.
“We are all very saddened by this news,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “Paul Rosche represented and characterized the company and the BMW brand with his passion, his vision and his immense technical expertise over many decades in action on the racetrack.
“The results of his work … were frequently milestones of engineering skill. He constantly redefined the limits of what was technically possible. We will preserve this spirit at BMW Motorsport. Our deepest sympathies go to his family and friends.”