This is the car that made me fall in love with the BMW marque. This 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL was driven by Brian Redman and Ronnie Peterson in the Daytona 24 and the 1975 and 1976 Camel GT Series. The flowing colors and the high wing of the “Batmobiles” as they were called, may have been the absolute most beautiful BMW racecar ever!
This particular car had several different drivers during the period it ran in the IMSA Camel GT series. Brian Redman consistently drove it with a number of co-drivers including Peter Gregg, David Hobbs, Sam Posey and John Fitzpatrick. Redman was also doing double duty, winning championships for Carl Haas in the SCCA USAC Formula 5000 series driving the world beating Lola T-332.
BMW Motorsport GmbH was formed originally in 1972 by Jochen Neerpasch, it was the first car to have the now iconic BMW Motorsports red, purple and blue livery. At the 1975 Daytona 24 Hour, in the hands of Ronnie Peterson, the car retired with a blown engine during Peterson’s first stint at just 29 laps recorded.
The Batmobile racecars were based on the 3.0 CS road car, which are now expensive, highly sought after collectibles. They were given a lightweight chassis (hence the L in CSL) and aluminum body panels, creating sculptured flairs for the large slick tires. During the development of the cars, a four-valve cylinder head took the horsepower from 340 to 430.
With all the great development, the CSLs won races at the 12 Hours of Sebring with Redman, Sam Posey, Hans Stuck and Alan Moffat behind the wheel at Riverside and Laguna Seca. The team returned to Daytona in 1976 and had a much more successful outing, but not without some long hours by Redman. This time the car carried the number 59 — synonymous with Redman’s new teammate, former Brumos Porsche driver, Peter Gregg.
In a strange twist, the 24 was stopped for 2 hours and 40 minutes as the gasoline provided by Union 76 for some reason had high water content, wreaking havoc on the entries. The pregnant pause was to allow teams to drain their fuel tanks and put fresh fuel in the cars. Peter Gregg, known as “Peter Perfect” for a number of derogatory reasons, elected to only do a couple of stints, which left Redman to drive 14 stints during the course of the race, with help from John Fitzpatrick, who’s own CSL had a failure and DNF’d.
Despite the unusual circumstances, Redman, Gergg and Fitzpatrick came home victorious in class. As Redman recalls in his book, “at 4:00 a.m., our CSL went from six to five cylinders but, by using the maximum 9000 rpm, I was still faster than the fastest Porsche RSR. Grit paid off, and John and I claimed victory.”
This 3.0 CSL was then restored to the period it raced at Daytona in 1975. It is owned by BMW of North America and is raced and displayed at select events.