Poster boy: The BMW R 90 S motorcycle of the 1970s.
Go out and win races with a production bike? Why not, if you can find the right machine. The BMW R 90 S was already a sporty thing in regular specification; all it needed was a rider with the wherewithal to unlock its potential – Helmut Dähne, say. Dähne proved himself one of only a small number of foreigners capable of contesting victory on the Isle of Man.
A BMW advert highlighting race wins in the USA in the 1970s.
If you want to be in the headlines (rather than just reading them), go racing! Soon everyone will be talking about you, providing you win of course. In the 1970s, the boldly liveried BMW CSL bustled its way to a string of victories at Sebring, Laguna Seca and Riverside – tracks of infinite mystique and history – and turned BMW from lesser-spotted exotic into headline act stateside. Its success made BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke) a household name and soon every kid across America knew BMW built great cars. “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.”, the saying went.
A placard marks the BMW 328’s maiden victory.
This was every designer’s dream fast-tracked into reality, a shining example of getting it right first time out to leave your rivals trailing in your wake. This placard tells the story of the dream come true, referencing a truly astonishing average speed of 167 km/h (104 mph) recorded in the process. In an era when many cars struggled to achieve half that figure at flat chat (and then only for a fleeting moment), it was faintly ludicrous stuff.
A photo of the BMW 700 with aerodynamically optimised front end.
The 1,000-kilometre race at the Nürburgring was not to be taken lightly. Pictured are the Hülbusch/Bialas pairing after victory in 1963. Their car’s aerodynamically optimised front end with oversized headlight covers still bears the scars of a long battle. Designed and built by Willi Martini in 1962-65, this plastic-bodied, BMW 700-based coupe racked up a succession of stunning victories on the domestic and international stage. But Martini’s vision of selling a road-going version of the racer in decent numbers remained unfulfilled.