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View Photos of Our Drive of BMW's Historic Race Cars

bmw racecar drive
View Photos of Our BMW Historic Race Car DriveHoratiu Boeriu @BMWBLOG


BMW brought six of its retired race cars to Homestead-Miami Speedway recently for Targa 66, a laid-back, weekend-long track event for vintage race cars, and invited us to drive several of them. The racy Bimmers included a pair of M8 GTE cars that won races in IMSA's Grand Touring Le Mans class, where they competed from 2018 to 2021. Also on hand was a pair of E92 M3 race cars—one of which won IMSA's GT2 championship in 2011, plus a race-winning E46 M3 that last competed in 2006. BMW also brought a fully restored 1971 2002ti that had been campaigned by Alpina. The ballistic Bimmers were attended to by a full crew of technicians from BMW Motorsport, just as they were when they raced in their respective series. Click through to see behind-the-scenes photos.


The M8 GTE roars onto Homestead-Miami Speedway's front straightaway from the infield road course. The M8 GTE is very loosely based on the production M8 coupe, most of which is cut away under the skin (itself replaced with carbon fiber). A big rear wing, a rear underbody ground effects diffuser, and numerous aerodynamic modifications made it a high-downforce racing tool with incredible cornering grip.

bmw racecar drive
Horatiu Boeriu @BMWBLOG

M8 GTE V-8

The M8 GTE's twin-turbo 4.0-liter flat-plane-crank V-8 is built specifically to work within IMSA's balance of performance rules, which limit horsepower to keep competitors from different brands on equal footing. Turned up to max power, it makes a claimed 600 horses and can drive the M8 GTE to track speeds of up to 180 mph.

bmw racecar drive
Rich Ceppos - Car and Driver

M8 GTE Cockpit

State of the art in 2018, the M8 GTE makes use of extensive electronics to give the driver control of dozens of vehicle parameters, from engine power to traction-control intervention and tire-slip level—and much more. The small screen on the center stack serves as the rearview mirror, and is fed images from a rear facing camera.

<span class="photo-credit">Car and Driver</span>
Car and Driver

Heart Stoppers

The GTLM rules specified steel brakes, and these big Brembos are highly effective, providing amazing, fade-free stopping power. The racing pads are at least twice as thick as normal street pads in order to last through the long races, which can range up to 24 hours.

bmw racecar drive
Rich Ceppos - Car and Driver

Street and Track M3s

At first glance, the racing version of the E92 M3 looks only slightly modified from stock, but up close it's obvious that it's a pure racing machine. Most of the car under its new carbon-fiber skin is now purpose-built for competition; the racer is even fitted with a six-speed manual rear transaxle, which the street car doesn't have.

bmw racecar drive
Rich Ceppos - Car and Driver

M3 GT Interior

This M3 GT won IMSA's American Le Mans GT championship in 2011. The cabin is a spaghetti-like mass of roll-cage tubing that you must wiggle around to get into the tight racing bucket. It's loud and hot in there too.

<span class="photo-credit">Car and Driver</span>
Car and Driver

A Window into the M3 GT

Every detail of the E92 M3 is optimized under the rules. Lightweight plexiglass is used in the windows, which don't drop down and which have small slits for ventilation. Air conditioning keeps the cabin, if not cool, at least from turning into an oven.

bmw racecar drive
Rich Ceppos - Car and Driver

M3 GT Aero Tweaks

At the speeds an M3 GT attacks high-speed corners, small aerodynamic aids like these dive planes aft of the rear wheels can make a difference. They add rear downforce for extra cornering grip.

bmw racecar drive
Rich Ceppos - Car and Driver

M3 GT Details

Dozens of specially engineered details help to optimize performance of the M3 GT race car. This small, almost unnoticeable vent at the front corner of the door helps remove hot air from the M3 GT's cabin. The side-view mirror housing is shaped to reduce drag and made of carbon fiber to reduce weight.

bmw racecar drive
Rich Ceppos - Car and Driver

1971 Alpina 2002ti Racer

This 1971 2002ti, campaigned by Alpina back in the day, was one of the most important sedan racers of its era. Crouching next to a 1972 2002tii, it's a simpler car from a simpler time. Weighing in at about 2000 pounds with a 2.0-liter inline-four, it proved fun to drive and happy to slide around on its narrow 205-mm-wide race tires.

bmw racecar drive
Rich Ceppos - Car and Driver

Alpina 2002ti Race Engine

The Alpina 2002ti's 2.0-liter eight-valve race engine was restored to its original 1971 configuration. It's fed by twin two-barrel Weber carbs, makes an impressive 200 horsepower, propels the light car with surprising verve, and bellows like it's mad at the world.

bmw racecar drive
Rich Ceppos - Car and Driver

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