1975 3.0 CSL Group 4 IMSA
1975 BMW 3.0 CSL Group 4 IMSA #2275986
3,498cc M49/3 inline six-cylinder, 475 hp @ 8,500 rpm
Alpine White with Motorsport stripes
Kevin Ladd (since 2004)
Few race cars have had such a substantial impact on a company’s fortunes as the E9 CSLs campaigned by BMW of North America in the 1975 International Motor Sport Association (IMSA) championship.
The CSL had already won the ETCC title by the time BMW Motorsport brought its cars to the US. Here, the IMSA program would provide crucial marketing for BMW of North America, which had taken over Max Hoffman’s independent sales operation on March 15, 1975.
A BMW Motorsport CSL won the second race of the season at Sebring just one week later, and BMW NA’s “win ads” made sure people noticed. Equally important were the CSL’s windshield decals, which let everyone know that BMW stood for Bavarian, not British, Motor Works. And if that was still in question, one could always listen for the joyful yodeling of native son Hans Stuck whenever a CSL reached the podium.
The car seen here, CSL #2275986 (E9 R2-15), arrived in the US in March 1975 as a spare car, but it was pressed into service almost immediately after Sam Posey crashed #988 in testing at Road Atlanta.
Not long after that, Hans Stuck crashed this car in practice for the Road Atlanta race on April 20. The team worked around the clock to get it ready for Laguna Seca on May 4, and Stuck paid them back with 2nd in the first heat and 1st in the second. At Riverside on May 10, driving #986 with Dieter Quester, Stuck headed a BMW 1-2 that defeated seven Porsche RSRs in front of an audience that included BMW CEO Eberhard von Kuenheim and sales chief Hans-Erdmann Schönbeck. The car also raced at Lime Rock, Mid-Ohio and Mosport in 1975, driven by either Stuck or Posey.
At the end of 1975, Motorsport technician Rudi Gmeiner fitted it with a new M49/3 six-cylinder, making this the first car to receive the upright engine. Gmeiner then delivered it to Peter Gregg, who’d been enlisted to run the CSLs for 1976. Competing as the #59 it wears today, #986 won the 24 Hours of Daytona and Talladega and finished 2nd or 3rd in eight more races. It wasn’t enough to take the title, however, and Gregg finished second to Al Holbert in a Chevy Monza V8.
At the end of 1976, Gregg sold #986 to Kenper Miller, who raced it under the Jack Deren Automotive banner for the next three seasons, scoring a best finish of 2nd in the 1977 Daytona Finale. Miller sold it to Joe Spalding in late 1979; following Spalding’s death in a road-car accident, the car sat unused in Florida for years until it was acquired by Richard Conway. Miller eventually repurchased it from Conway and had it restored by Deren to its #59 Peter Gregg livery. In May 2004, Miller sold #986 to current owner Kevin Ladd.