rahal letterman

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The ALMS BMW M3 GTR with V8 power is back!

The 2001 BMW M3 GTR Chassis Number M3-GTR-06 has been restored to its Petit LeMans winning Stars and Stripes livery and ‘P60′ V8 power. Chassis M3-GTR-06 was be unveiled this Friday at Legends of the Autobahn after an 18 month ground-up restoration.

The BMW M3 GTR was a dominant competitor throughout the single season that it contested. Bill Auberlen, Boris Said and Hans J-Stuck capped off the season for BMW North America by winning the 2001 Petit Le Mans finale. As a tribute to a grieving nation and to those who lost their lives in 9/11, BMW Team PTG owner Tom Milner had created the patriotic “Stars and Stripes” design specifically for this race. As a result of the win and the special livery, the car became a legend for BMW racing fans in America. 

BMW Motorsport Chassis no. M3-GTR-006 has undergone an 18-month ground-up restoration by BMWUSA Classic partner Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) with invaluable assistance from former PTG team members and BMW Motorsport.

The most unique feature of the M3 GTR was its powerplant, the first M3 in the history of the company to feature a V8 engine. Designated “P60” the 4.0-liter engine was the first engine designed and constructed by BMW Motorsport specifically as a race engine. This unique engine was smaller and weigh 30 pounds less than the inline six, despite adding two cylinders. Featuring a dry sump for optimal lubrication at high cornering loads and a “flat plane” crankshaft, the design allowed for more efficient exhaust scavenging without the need to have header primaries cross over from one bank to the other enabling optimal flow at high rpms. This resulted in a very reliable 444 horsepower at 7500 rpm in race trim.

Controversial during its only season of American Le Mans competition, the M3 GTR was built to a set of rules that ultimately existed for only one season and allowed a manufacturer to compete with a purpose-built racing engine as long as a (small) number of road cars were produced. Two M3 GTR race cars each were campaigned by BMW Team PTG and BMW Team Schnitzer beginning with the third event of the eight race ALMS season. The two squads, for all intents and purposes now only competing amongst themselves, combined to win the final six races in a row, from five pole positions while setting six new race lap records. The BMW M3 GTR easily secured the ALMS Manufacturers’ Championship for BMW, the Team Championship for BMW Team Schnitzer and the Drivers’ Championship for Jörg Müller.

2013 BMW Z4 GTE | E89 | BMW Motorsport Race Car | 2 Door Roadster Coupe Convertible | 4.4L V8 500hp | Built for the LM GTE class series | Based on the Z4 GT3

BMW Team RLL Race Car | BMW Team Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing | No. 56 | Winner of the 2013 Long Beach Grand Prix where BMW took 1st and 2nd place

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BMW Art Car number 17 by Jeff Koons. BMW M3 GT2 (E92) at Le Mans.

As part of his creative process, the artist collected images of race cars, related graphics, vibrant colors, speed and explosions. The resulting artwork of bright colors conceived by Koons is evocative of power, motion and bursting energy. Its silver interior along with the powerful exterior design, the ArtCar will impart a dynamic appearance even when it’s standing still.

“These race cars are like life, they are powerful and there is a lot of energy,” said Koons. “You can participate with it, add to it and let yourself transcend with its energy. There is a lot of power under that hood and I want to let my ideas transcend with the car – it’s really to connect with that power”.

Koons has been in an intense collaboration with BMW’s team in Munich for months – melding his skill with sophisticated BMW engineering – to ensure that the 17th BMW Art Car will be race-ready for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Traveling back and forth to Germany many times since the February 2 announcement that Koons would create the 17th BMW Art Car, the artist has worked with the BMW engineering and design teams to conduct in-depth explorations of materials and application options that will prove crucial to optimizing both the aesthetic and aerodynamic attributes of the race car. Working with actual 3-D computer-aided design (CAD) models of the BMW M3 GT2, Koons could simulate the application of the graphic to the car’s surfaces and evaluate it from all angles.

Koons even donned a helmet and joined BMW’s Rahal Letterman Racing Team for testing in Sebring, Florida, on February 23. Koons was able to experience the M3 GT2 at race speed to further inspire his design. As Koons describes it, he witnessed “the raw unfiltered performance” of the M3 GT2 from the seat of a historic BMW M1 race car. Koons also drove a BMW M3 Coupe on the circuit to further the dynamic exercise.

Under Koons’ direct guidance and supervision, his BMW Art Car was produced in assistance with a team of BMW engineers and designers at Schmid Design, (ORT), Bavaria. The challenge to create the BMW Art Car had to do with using a light material and a design that would not interfere with the racecar’s aerodynamics and weight. Timing was also an issue, as there was only a two month window between the first design sketches and the Paris world premiere. This is why digital print on car wrapping vinyl was used covered by a double clear-coating to bring out the color. To apply hundreds of dynamic lines of Koons’ design onto the car, CAD designs were translated from 3D into 2D for the printing process and then painstakingly applied to the entire car as well as onto individual spare parts. Koons design incorporates many bright contrasting colors to communicate the aesthetics of power. The concept design was transformed into hard eged lines of color. Graphics of debris were added to the rear sides and back of the car to similute the power of the car. Furthermore, two graphic rings on the rear of the car represent supersonic acceleration.