Legend Parade with H.R.H. Prince Leopold of Bavaria, at FORMULA 1 GROSSER PREIS VON ÖSTERREICH 2016
At the Red Bull Ring our Neuschwansteiner Royal Brand Ambassador H.R.H. Prince Leopold of Bavaria took the steering wheel of one of his favourite race cars and joined the BMW M1 Procar series in Spielberg, celebrating its comeback in front of a huge crowd with some famous names behind the wheel. H.R.H. Prince Leopold of Bavaria was joined by motorsport Greats like Niki Lauda, Gerhard Berger, Dieter Quester, Jochen Mass, Jos Verstappen, who took his son Max Verstappen along, plus Hans-Joachim Stuck, featuring 14 of just 54 editions of the unique purebred racing car ever made!
For two years, in 1979 and 1980, the BMW Procar Series added an extra touch to the European Formula 1™ weekends.
Over 300 km/h with 470 horsepower
The BMW M1 Procar Championship was a one-make car racing series, founded by Jochen Neerpasch – former head of BMW Motorsports. The Procar racing series was especially created for the BMW M1 and held in the years 1979 & 1980. The idea of this series was to give the most talented private drivers an opportunity to compete against top Formula 1™ drivers under identical conditions and was staged as a warm-up race ahead of selected European Formula 1 Grand Prix™. The five fastest Formula 1 drivers in each training session took part in some unforgettable contests against touring car specialists over a third of a Grand Prix distance presenting– a mixture with particular appeal to the public. Both Procar Championships have been won by a Formula 1™ Driver – 1979 Niki Lauda took the overall win and was followed 1980 by Nelson Piquet.
The development of a racing version of a BMW M1 Supercar provided the basis for the Procar series. The six-cylinder in-line engine with 3.5 litres of cylinder capacity and four valves per cylinder generates 470 horsepower and ensures, with its 1,020 kilogram weight and fully aerodynamic height of just 110 centimetres, a top speed of 310 km/h. Thrilling tight contests were the result of 8,500 rpm and some fine tuning on the chassis and spoiler.
14 legends in 14 legendary racing cars
The overall winner of the Procar series won a roadworthy M1, with the second-placed driver getting a BMW 528i and the third a BMW 323i. Among the massive names taking part in the series in its two years of existence were Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet, Emerson Fittipaldi, Alan Jones, Alain Prost and Mario Andretti – a total of six world champions.
In 1979, Niki Lauda won the title – just in time before retiring from a race for the first time, with Hans-Joachim Stuck lurking behind ready to take the title off his hands. In 1980 Nelson Piquet dominated, with world champion Alan Jones in second, and Hans-Joachim Stuck on the podium again in third. At the start of the 1980 season, BMW announced it wanted to enter Formula 1™ as an engine supplier. All the capacity of its motorsport division therefore became focused on this mammoth project, with great success – in 1983, Nelson Piquet took the first turbo world championship title ever in a Brabham BMW. The Procar Series was discontinued at the end of the 1980 season.
Former Austrian F1 driver Dieter Quester, said:
“I get so excited by the sum of all the emotions in old cars in general, and the BMW Procar in particular.”
“The smell. The sound. The famous six-cylinder in-line engine in the rear. You can’t even hear your heartbeat anymore, and when you put the pedal down, flames come out of the exhaust.”
The third edition of the Legends Parade at the Red Bull Ring promises to be particularly spectacular, as the drivers won’t be in the mood to give each other any favours at all. Niki Lauda explained enthusiastically: “These races are so much fun. It just goes ‘click’ and then it’s all like it was back then. If Berger is going to overtake me, then of course I’ll try to take him back. I still don’t like trailing behind.”
Legends Parade 2016 – the drivers
Niki Lauda. Three-time Formula 1 World Champion and nowadays Mercedes race boss was the first overall winner of the BMW Procar Series in 1979 with victories in Monaco, Silverstone and the Hockenheimring. His first retirement from racing prevented him from defending his title in 1980.
Gerhard Berger. The 210-time Grand Prix starter began his career with BMW in the European touring car championship (with a M635 CSi). His first three F1 cars had BMW engines – from ATS, Arrows and Benetton.
Jos Verstappen. The father of the youngest ever Grand Prix winner in history took two podium places in 107 Grand Prix races and won one class victory in two Le Mans starts. When the BMW Procar Series began, he was only seven years old.
Dieter Quester. The 77-year-old from Vienna drove BMWs for long stretches of his career, from 2002 ti to Formula 2, DTM, in an M3, and 24 hour races in a Z4 Coupé.
H.R.H. Prince Leopold of Bavaria Prince Leopold of Bavaria. The legendary Procar in the design of a Munich innkeeper is the perfect match for the Bavarian Prince. He never competed in the Procar series, but drove together with Danner and Peter Oberndorfer in the 1981 Le Mans 24-Hour.
Hans-Joachim Stuck. As well as starting 74 Grand Prix, he battled Niki Lauda right to the end for the series win in 1979 with race victories in Zandvoort and Monza. His victories in Monaco and at the Norisring in 1980 made him the Procar driver with the most individual wins behind Nelson Piquet.
Jochen Mass. 105 Grand Prix starts, one win (Barcelona 1975), an overall victory in Le Mans in 1989, one start in the Procar series (Hockenheim 1979) that brought him four points – in 2016 the trained sailor from Bavaria will race for the second time in one of the cars.
Christian Danner. The popular TV commentator did not only have an F1 career, but was also the first German to win points in the Indy Car series. Not to forget his battles in the DTM in an Alfa 155 and, of course, a BMW M3.
Marc Surer. The Swiss driver competed in 88 Grand Prix between 1979 and 1986, and finished eighth in the 1980 Procar Series, equal with Jacques Laffite. Surer’s former Procar team is now a familiar name in Formula 1, Sauber.
Johnny Cecotto. One of two people who was a world champion on both two and four wheels. With a BMW E30 M3, the Venezuelan became a BMW legend. To honour him, a special limited edition model of the car was made with 505 pieces.
Jan Lammers. The Dutchman was a team-mate of Marc Surer at ATS in 1980, and won the Le Mans 24 Hour in 1988 in a Jaguar. He became the most successful Dutchman in the history of Procar racing by finishing fourth in the overall rankings in 1980.
Markus Hotz. The Swiss driver, who was known with his Horag Racing team for his self-made cars, above all, became one of a select number of private individuals to compete in Formula 1. He is returning to the Red Bull Ring in a BMW Procar.
Sepp Manhalter. The multiple Austrian touring car champion in the 1970s and 1980s has always been a BMW man and held his own as a private competitor in the Procar series against the stars. His highlight was a seventh place finish in Zolder in 1979.
Harald Grohs. The 72-year old was a BMW junior driver once upon a time, and is still active today in motorsport for BMW. With aWith a BMW M1, the touring car specialist took part in the Le Mans 24 Hour in 1985, but dropped out after 32 laps.
H.R.H. Prince Leopold of Bavaria enjoyed the weekend and especially the BMW M1 Procar Legends Parade:
“Driving the historic famous BMW M1 Procar always is great! Meeting all the other drivers at the Legends Parade on the occasion of the FORMULA 1 GROSSER PREIS VON ÖSTERREICH 2016 in Spielberg at that fantastic race track was very nice. We were able to catch up on good old times and drive fantastic cars. I think all of us had so much fun – and the fans simply loved it!”
“It made me once again feel grateful to be able to drive these fabulous historical classic race cars!”
“I have known these racers for many years and raced with and against some of them. It was such a great idea of the people at Red Bull Ring and the organisers of the race, I hope we can repeat this next year!”
F1, FORMULA ONE, FORMULA 1, FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, GRAND PRIX and related marks are trademarks of Formula One Licensing B. V.