Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
4/6/15 9:43 a.m.

They say you should never meet your heroes. But in this business, meeting heroes is sort of what we do, be it a rare car, a famous hotshoe or a hallowed ground. Our job tends to drag us right up to reality, hand outstretched and a friendly “hello” on our lips.

Over the years, we’ve had both positive and negative experiences with confronting our favorites. We wouldn’t say the aphorism is necessarily true, but our heroes have certainly disappointed us before. For example, it’s hard to idolize a car after it’s tried to kill you in three different ways.

So we were understandably nervous when we walked up to one of the most iconic cars in endurance racing: the BMW 3.0 CSL, better known as the Batmobile because of its giant, aerodynamic add-ons. Though we’d seen hundreds of pictures of the car, it still took our breath away in person.

Before we could even get the air back in our lungs, the owner tossed us the keys and left us at a difficult crossroads: Would we remember this as the moment we finally drove our favorite car, or the moment we passed up the chance to find out what racing a rare, factory-backed BMW is like?

Should we meet our hero? The answer was obvious: We’d come to the BMW Performance Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina, to turn hot laps in the No. 51 BMW 3.0 CSL, one of 19 factory CSL race cars built. And we weren’t going to go home until we did.

Read the rest of the story

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
4/8/15 6:32 a.m.

The rest of the story is that car absolutely kicks all the ass! One of the best race cars I have ever driven.

ronbros9
ronbros9 New Reader
4/9/15 5:09 p.m.

maybe so, but i'm sure a factory prepared Porsche would be outstanding also!

and along came Audi quattro 5cylinder turbo, and ended that class of racing!

its all in the course of life.

maj75
maj75 Reader
4/9/15 5:28 p.m.

Saw 2 of them running at Sebring. That was one of my favorite cars and to see and hear it run was amazing. One was black and one was white with Martini graphics IIRC. Wish I had been in their group, just to have them blow past me!

wrenchklutz
wrenchklutz New Reader
11/9/15 2:46 p.m.

I saw Hans Stuck win at Talladega in one of these in '75. It was in the downpour to end all downpours. Cars were falling off the track left and right. Stuck was running up near the wall on the high banks, flat-out despite the heavy rain. Coming through Turn 4 one lap, the tail end walked out on him. He never lifted: just gave it a little opposite-lock and kept it in line. When they finally red-flagged the race, Stuck did three more laps because his windows were fogged and he couldn't see the flagman! Unbelievable.

greggearhead
greggearhead New Reader
11/22/15 1:55 p.m.

When, as a 23yo fresh-out-of-college car guy, working for a VW Mail order place in Colorado, I got to help the BMW department head on the weekends maintain his BMW vintage race car fleet, I was floored. He got free labor (kept me fed and watered) and I got to work on old cars.

One day, while working on the phones, he came and said, "Punch out, we need to go test the cars and you can help." The owner of the company, myself and the BMW guy all went down to his house, loaded up a couple cars and went to a local track (on a weekday, so had it all to ourselves!).

The cars? There was a 1975 E21 BMW 320I that was in an SCCA GT3 (I think) configuration that had box flares, super peaky engine, and everything else you would expect. The other car was a Group 2 CSL that made all those lovely 6cyl noises, had the alternator driven off the diff, etc.

I assumed I would be there only to wrench and help load and unload, but after getting the 320i started and idling, he threw me a driving suit and said to take it out! Was awesome. After many laps, I came in, made some notes on things I thought needing adjusting, and then he pulled in in the CSL and told me to take it out. I said no, I can't afford to buy that, let alone repair it, and he flipped me the bird and told me to drive it or walk home.

So I did. It was awesome. HUGE slicks and awesome power, very balanced, etc. I was doing 7 tenths until he came ROARING by, tires howling, in the 320i, again, flipping me the bird and waving me to come on. So I wicked it up. I don't think I ever pushed 10/tenths, but at 8 or 9 she was awesome. I remember coming in and talking about the alignment, front toe-out specifically, because it was darty under heavy breaking, and they found it had almost an inch toe out! Good memories.

Here's the CSL - the E21 I have photographs of in a box somewhere...

[URL=http://s61.photobucket.com/user/greggearhead/media/BMW/3af6fb74d37f0edc9b8e5e996f1eb1e5_zpssxkulzgh.jpg.html][/URL]

TR8owner
TR8owner HalfDork
11/22/15 3:23 p.m.

I was at the 24 hrs of Daytona in 1976. I remember Greenwood's batmobile Corvette being the fastest car but nobody expected it to go the distance. It crapped out after a few hours. The BMW's won ahead of the Porsches.

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