PRO FUN. AN EN­THU­SI­AST AND HIS BMW M1 PROCAR.

The BMW M1 was a super sports car for the road and in 1978 it was a sensation. As a Procar racer, it took part in a racing class created specially for this car as support races in Formula 1. Famous drivers such as Niki Lauda also steered it but so did unknown privateer drivers with some talent and a great deal of ambition. These races rapidly became a legend, as they provided highly competitive and thoroughly entertaining motor sport. In 1980, Hans-Georg Bürger was racing with a BMW M1 for the Gerhard Schneider Team in the signature red of sponsor “BASF”, famous for high-quality magnetic tapes and cassettes. Today, BMW enthusiast and collector Thomas Feierabend is looking after this splendid vehicle, but he is also using it for the purpose originally intended. He competes in races.

Six cylinders. Power of 277 hp as standard and a top speed of 262 km/h. Two overhead camshafts, four valves for each combustion chamber and capacity of almost 3.5 litres. The BMW M1 captivated everybody. But the racing version was something else again, being significantly more muscular. 470 hp as a naturally aspirated engine in Group 4, a mighty 850 hp as a turbocharged engine in Group 5. Drivers were equally competitive, not least because the world’s best Formula 1 stars were pitted against each other. The five best-ranked drivers in each Formula 1 race were given a place in a Procar cockpit, provided by BMW motor sport. The other starting places on the grid were offered to committed teams and privateer drivers. The Procar Series ran for two years. Niki Lauda won in 1979, and in the following year, Nelson Piquet took the top podium place. Apart from the victory prizes, each of the winners also received a brand-new roadgoing version of the BMW M1.

Hans-Georg Bürger, racing driver with a passion.

Hans-Georg Bürger was born in 1952 and he was 28 years old when he competed in his first Procar race held on the British race track in Donington. His BMW M1 was supported by Team GS Sport and was clothed in a striking design by the sponsor BASF. Bürger proved his talented driving skills, started in second place, but later retired from the race. He had better luck competing at the German Avus race track in May, where he took pole position and subsequently crossed the finishing line in third place. In Monaco, he achieved the fastest lap but he then had to withdraw from the race. In July, Bürger was unfortunate enough to suffer the fate of many racing drivers. At the Formula 2 European Championship race in Zandvoort, he was involved in a serious accident and shortly afterwards died as a result of his fatal injuries.

Hans-Joachim Stuck now took the wheel in Bürger’s cockpit, but he only passed the chequered flag in two of four other races. In Hockenheim he took third place and in Zeltweg a respectable second place. Stuck went into the season’s final race in third place with 71 points in 1980 before it ceased to exist. After that, the car continued in a rather successful career in the German Racing Championship. It was then sold to Canada and only recently found its way back to Germany.

Classic cars as a family tradition.

Thomas Feierabend grew up in a family of car enthusiasts. His father started out with a Fiat Balilla manufactured in 1934, was soon restoring valuable classic cars and gave his son a Fiat Abarth for Christmas when he was just 14 years old. He was effectively predestined to become a master mechanic. And his hobby was being a passionate racing driver who was equally at home in a BMW 328 and a Bugatti 37 Grand Prix. These really were the best enablers for the new highlight in his own, nascent collection, the BMW M1 Procar “BASF” with its exciting history.

All visitors to historic races are likely therefore be pleased when they see “red” again. Although BASF magnetic tapes have long been consigned to the annals of history, the car under the paintwork has certainly not suffered that fate!