Having bid farewell to Formula One, BMW will reportedly strengthen its involvement in GT and touring car racing for 2010 and beyond. In light of the news, we profile one of their more famous production cars that became a race car – the BMW M1 Procar.
The BMW M1 Procar Championship, sometimes known simply as Procar, was a one-make auto racing series created by Jochen Neerpasch, head of BMW Motorsport GmbH, the racing division of automobile manufacturer BMW. The series pitted professional drivers from the Formula One World Championship, World Sportscar Championship, European Touring Car Championship, and other international series against one another using identically modified BMW M1 sports cars.
Billed as an opportunity to see a mix of drivers from various motorsport disciplines, the championship served as support races for various European rounds of the 1979 Formula One season, with Formula One drivers earning automatic entry into the Procar event based on their performance in their Formula One cars. Austrian Niki Lauda won the inaugural championship. In 1980, the series held some events outside of Formula One schedule, and was won by Brazilian Nelson Piquet. BMW chose not to continue the championship in 1981 to concentrate on their entrance into Formula One.
All cars used in the Procar Championship were built to identical standards, although their origins varied. BS Fabrications constructed five cars for the BMW factory team, while cars for other competitors were constructed by the British Formula Two team Project Four (led by Ron Dennis) and the Italian constructor Osella. The racing cars, designed to meet Group 4 technical regulations, shared only some basics from the M1 road cars.
For the M1′s exterior, simple modifications were made to adapt the car aerodynamically. A deep spoiler was added under the nose of the car, while an adjustable wing was added on two mounts at the rear of the engine cover. The arches for the wheels were extended outward to shroud the wider 11 in. wheels in the front, and 12.6 in. wheels at the rear. The alloy wheels, designed by Campagnolo, featured a central locking nut and mimicked the straked design of the production car’s wheels. Inside, the car featured no finishing or luxuries from the road car, only a rollcage for driver protection. The glass windows were replaced with clear plastic.
Mechanically, the Procar M1s were extensively modified to meet the requirements of circuit racing. The standard M1 featured the aluminimum block BMW M88 straight-6 with 3.5 litre displacement. Modified into the M88/1 by a team led by Paul Rosche, it was capable of producing 470 horsepower at 9000 rpm, compared to 277 hp from the standard M1′s engine. The 5-speed ZF gearbox housing from the road car was retained, but with multiple gear ratios allowed, as well as its own oil cooler.
The suspension was entirely new, adding adjustable anti-roll bars. The brakes were redesigned to adapt the use of a driver-adjustable brake pressure balance, while the servo-activated braking system was removed. A racing steering rack was used in place of the standard power steering unit. Pneumatic jacks were later added to the cars in the 1980 season to allow for quicker pit stops. Goodyear racing tires were used on all cars. All other non-essential items from the road car were not included, bringing the Procar M1′s weight down to 2,200 lb. The performance of the Procar M1s was increased to a top speed of 193 mph dependent upon gear ratios, and acceleration from 0–60 mph in 4.3 seconds. Each Procar M1 cost approximately $60,000.
BMW M1 Procar Revival Photo Gallery – Hockenheimring, July 19, 2008 (photo credit: BMW AG)
BMW M1 Procar Video
[Source: Wikipedia; photo credit: BMW AG]