Monday, March 13, 2023

Reminiscing briefly over the Great Bimmer Billy’s Amazing Sports Car Career

As the ever youthful Californian Has made A lot of Lemonade out of driving for BMW in Sports Cars…


Yeah Kiddoes’, know you’ll All be Delighted! That your Humble No Fenders scribe Tomaso has decided to Dust off another aging No Fender yarn that’s been vermintin’ in Ye Cavernous No Fenders Story Cellar for several years. As I think it’s Ok now to uncork a 2018 vintage story, Righto?


Nah, No Forrest Gump soliloquy's here. But I did find it Karmic how once again, thoust Seas of Synchronicity were Washing over Mwah, when listening to the Speed Freaks, Wayback’ on Sunday night, May 5, 2019, Aye Karumba!


Wayback when I used to listen to them on a weekly basis. When Statmann' Caruthers interviewed Bimmer Billy, aka Bill Auberlen at Mid Ohio. As Auberlen was then closing in upon Scott Pruett’s record of 60 career IMSA victories. Having just tied Pruett Me Thinks?


And it wasn't that long ago when Auberlen was reportedly retiring to become a BMW Brand Ambassador instead. But apparently ‘Ol Racing Drivers never really hang-up Thar Driving Suits. Especially since Aubelen’s been racing steadily since supposedly being “Eased” Out of the Seat…


Since Auberlen had been on thou mind, mostly due to what’s become another languishing No Fenders tome I first "tucked into" nearly some five years ago now when initially reviewing Bimmer Billy's racing exploits.


As Auberlen was half of the driving Duo that gave BMW it's first Sports Car Prototype W' when claiming victory in the 1998 Professional SportsCar Racing Championship series season finale at Laguna Seca in BMW’s first Le Mans Prototype (LMP) V12 LM chassis.


Since I’m fascinated over BMW’s former LMP Prototype that won lee 24 Heurs du Mans some 24yrs ago, when Auberlen was part of the No. 18 Price + Bscher entry that finished fifth Overall with Thomas Bscherand Steve Soper aboard their year old BMW V12 LM racecar, but I digress…


It’s old news now that Bimmer Billy has indeed broken Scott Pruett’s IMSA Career Wins tally, when capping His 61st victory at Virginia International Raceway on August 22, 2020. And I believe He’s currently got 64 W’s?


And having capped His 400th Start for BMW Wayback’ in 2017, He must be closing in upon 500?


Yet Auberlen began His professional racing career spending six years racing Mazda RX7’s in IMSA’s GTU Class. Before spending more seat time in a variety of Porsche 911 Panzerwagens, and the list goes on ‘N on…


As Racer’s Marshal Pruett did a Great Interview with Bimmer Billy some three years ago, when celebrating Aubelen’s 61st victory.


As Auberlen tells a great story about His first actual win in Japan. Along with mentioning driving briefly for Kevin Doran aboard His Ferrari 333 SP, for which sadly one of His Co-Drivers Never showed up with the Cheque and Auberlen ended up driving a completely different Prototype chassis at Daytona instead.


Also mentioning how He thought He was just doing a “One-off” for the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2002 with my Homeboyz’ Ferrari of Washingtion race team. Noting how He, Cort Wagner, Constantino Bertuzzi and some Day-toner’ 500 winner named Derrike Cope ran a Ferrari 360 Modena at Daytona, where they suffered a Gearbox failure. Yet, Auberlen ended up running the whole year with Wagner and they narrowly won the GT Championship that year.


Auberlen also discusses driving the Panoz LMP01 Evo in 2002, for which David Donohue and Gunnar Jeannette were His teammates at Circuit de la Sarthe. But said it was pretty embarrassing getting passed by the Older Panoz chassis that wasn’t even competing! Just running as a Camera Car that year, Yikes!


And one of the Bombshell’s Auberlen drops is how during 1998 He was negotiating to race in Indy Cars for Hogan Racing! For which the seat went to a former BMW teammate of His named JJ Letho instead. And then the following year somebody named Helio Castroneves drove for them, during His rookie season in CART.


Yet Auberlen muses how BMW offered Him a three year contract at that time, which has now spanned nearly three decades! Not to mention BMW placing Him into one of those ultra Bad Arse Mclaren F1 GTR’s for his Debutante 24 Heurs du Mans outing in ’98.


For which Auberlen’s gone onto spend considerable Seat-time racking up multiple wins for BMW aboard the likes of Prototype Technology Group (PTG Racing) in those dominant BMW M3’s. Along with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Turner Motorsports. Where He’s currently piloting the #95 BMW M4 in the GTD Pro category.


As here’s the link to Marshall’s lengthy, but great Interview about Bill Auberlen’s Racing Life, Which is definitely worth a listen!