BMW M1 Procars to star at Goodwood

High-speed demonstration at Members’ Meeting looks set to have the biggest M1 grid since 1980

For any PHer too young to remember the BMW M1 Procar championship of 1979 and 1980, it was – and arguably remains – the greatest support series for Formula 1 ever conceived. The fact it used a grid of race-prepared BMW M1s was cool enough, but that the drivers involved were all competing in F1 made it all the more exciting.

Fans were given a chance to see the entire F1 grid competing on a level playing field, with each driving a track-prepped M1 running with an identical race-tuned version of BMW’s 3.5-litre M88 straight six, which had been ramped up by legendary BMW engineer Paul Rosche to provide 470hp (from 277hp). It meant that drivers who were normally laden with an uncompetitive F1 machine could fight it out with the sport’s very best.

The cars looked and sounded phenomenal and, according to the drivers, handled beautifully. Former F1 racer Hans Stuck said: “it was the best thing ever, incredibly competitive and those straight six engines made a wonderful noise”. Stuck finished second and third in the Procar’s two series, so we can probably take that opinion as gospel.

Of course with the cars aligned, there was nothing to prevent talent from rising to the top, so it’s perhaps of little surprise that in the Procar series’ two seasons, the title winners were Niki Lauda and Nelson Piquet. Both went on to win three F1 championships each.

Although immensely popular with fans and drivers alike, BMW ended support for the series in 1981 to focus on its own F1 campaign. M1 Procars have not competed together since; in fact, only a handful have shared the same circuit in the 38 years that have followed.

Next year, however, that looks to change following the announcement that a field of them should be out in force at the 77th Goodwood Members. Exact numbers are yet to be confirmed, but the organisers are working to get as many M1 Procar owners on board to take part in a high-speed demonstration run on Goodwood Circuit over the weekend of the 6/7th April 2019.

To make this occasion even more momentous, Goodwood’s inviting some of the original drivers from the championship to get involved. Although now in their senior years, racing drivers have a habit of wanting to prove their skills on circuit – particularly at Goodwood. And the prospect of seeing M1s four-wheel drifting around Madgwick Corner next spring has almost trumped driving the new Porsche 992 in our things-to-do-in-2019 list…

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