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The Sporting History Of BMW

Jul 24, 2008
BMW have had a fruitful motorsport history since it first appeared in 1938 in the long endurance event the Mille Miglia. The year was 1938 and BMW entered their 2.0 litre BMW 328 sports car into the famous Mile Miglia road racing event. The car did very well for a number of drivers that were participating in the event and the car managed the class win beating off their competitors.

The following year the car showed more promise but was not able to win the event and that is truely what it's makers wanted to do. Their patience paid off in 1940 when a BMW 328 car, the car that won their class in 1938, won the whole event after a gruelling 998 miles. The car was helped as it was upgraded with a streamlined body that allowed for more aerodynamic efficiency.

The BMW 328 also won the 1939 RAC rally and then finished 5th overall after 24 hours and 1st in the 2 litre class. This meant that it was considered as the best international sports car of that era in the 2 litre category. At this time, BMW were racing motorbikes, in 1939 one of their motorcycles won the Isle Of Man TT and other events such as the sidecar World Championship. This continued until the 1970's.

BMW have also had a fairly big history in Formula 1. During the 1980's they wanted to develop an engine for F1 purposes. The Brabham F1 team saw this opportunity and the engine was first raced in 1982. The engines first race win was at the 1982 Canadian grand prix with the help of Nelson Piquet.

The following season, in 1983, the partnership continued and the BMW powered Brabham took 4 victories on its way to help Nelson Piquet win the title. BMW changed to the Benetton team in 1986 but it only managed to win one world championship race. With the success in Formula 1 at a minimum, BMW decided to drop their engines out of the world championship at the end of the 1986 season.

The engine they used though continued throughout 1987 but was renamed Megatron as they had bought the rights to the engine and they were put into the Arrows team for 1987. The BMW engine was famous for being the first Formula 1 engine to develop more than 1000hp in race trim and nearly 1400hp in qualifying trim when the boost was engaged fully.

They did not enter Formula 1 again until 1997 when they formed a partnership agreement with the Williams F1 team to produce engines for them for the 2000 season onwards. The powerful E41 V10 engine was made for the Williams team and debuted by the team where they managed to get 3rd place in the constructors' championship and 3 podium finishes. There was always some disagreements during the partnership with Williams and in 2005 a big row broke out about the reliability of the engines and the team was not competitive during the season.

BMW then bought rights to the Sauber team which allowed them to set up their own team and design the car from the ground up. The car was quite successful in its first season earning themselves 5th in the constructor's championship. Jacque Villeneuve who was with the team when it was Sauber had disagreements with BMW and then left at the end of the season where polish rookie driver Robert Kubica replaced him and instantly showed promise.
About the Author
Racing expert Catherine Harvey looks at some aspects to the sporting history of BMW and how this has evolved.
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