Sportscar 365 - Sebring Debrief

Thursday, March 26, 2015

In 1975, Bavarian Motor Works won its first North American race at the 12 hours of Sebring. So 40 years later, the pressure was on us to repeat it!

The 40th anniversary celebrations gave me a little perspective on how important motorsport is to BMW and made me feel lucky to be with a brand that has such a long history of competing and winning.

One week before the race, BMW unveiled a throwback livery on both cars. The retro look was even better in person than the pictures I saw beforehand, so I was happy to learn that we’ll be keeping the new (old) livery for the remainder of the season.

The weekend itself wasn’t what we hoped for, particularly for the 40th anniversary. We ran on the lead lap for the entire race so we were in the hunt, but ultimately had a power steering failure that cost us a lot of time.

We were on the same fuel strategy as the race-winning Corvette, so we were set up for a P2 finish with one hour remaining. Unfortunately, the power steering had become intermittent and Lucas reported that it was totally gone with about 20 laps to go.

With all the bumps and high-speed corners at Sebring, I don’t want to imagine what driving a stint without power steering must be like. I can only assume that Lucas must have had some sore shoulders on Sunday.

After a day at home, I joined my teammates in New Jersey to celebrate the 40th anniversary with the BMW employees at headquarters. Bill and I were instructed to drive our racecars into the presentation and rev them up for the crowd, but we both felt a burnout would be much cooler.

We “jokingly” threw the idea out in front of Ludwig Willisch, President of BMW NA. With permission from the boss, we got to do indoor burnouts in front of a crowd of cheering people. A lot of times motorsport can be stressful and intense, but this was one of the lucky times that we got to feel like rockstars.

There was no break after the event at headquarters, as I went straight to the airport for a flight to Germany. In addition to the TUDOR Championship season, I’m fortunate to be joining Walkenhorst Motorsport for three preparation races and the 24hr Nürburgring in a Z4 GT3. The Nordschleife is without a doubt the most fun and most challenging place to race in the world. I’ve driven four VLN races in the past, but only in slower cars, so the step up to the Z4 will be a big one.

I’ll be in Germany for two weeks as we have the six-hour qualifying race on April 12. After that, my schedule is even more hectic, with Long Beach, Nürburgring VLN No. 2, and Laguna Seca on consecutive weekends.

Although it’s a lot of time on airplanes, I would take this schedule over my February schedule of no driving any day! Jet lag is taking over, so I’m off to get ready for my first GT3 laps around the world’s coolest racetrack.