The BMW CCA Foundation opened its inaugural museum exhibit, “Heroes of Bavaria: 75 Years of BMW Motorsports,” in May 2017 at the Foundation’s headquarters and museum building in Greer, South Carolina. It was an ambitious undertaking, to create a world-class display of 24 of the most iconic, significant, and sometimes one-of-a-kind BMW racing cars of the past 75 years. The work involved was tremendous, with Foundation staff and volunteers working long hours to prepare the facility, organize the supporting materials, and negotiate for the best possible cars.
The results were amazing and better than anyone had imagined. Private car collectors and BMW of North America stepped up to provide what could be the best such exhibit most BMW racing enthusiasts had ever seen, especially on this continent.
Eventually, however, the cars’ owners needed them back, so “Heroes of Bavaria,” which had been extended from an original end date of August 2017 until January 13, 2018, closed amid great ceremony and fanfare.
To celebrate the extraordinary success of the exhibit, the BMW CCA Foundation arranged for two final events on the weekend of January 12–13, 2018: a final curated and narrated pit walk through the exhibit itself, and a gala featuring two of BMW’s more renowned racing drivers: Brian Redman and David Hobbs.
In racing parlance, a pit walk is a tour through the racing team pits at an actual race, in which fans can experience behind-the-scenes activities before the race starts. In the case of the Friday evening event at the BMW CCA Foundation museum, former BMW of North America M Brand Manager and the man responsible for BMW NA’s racing program in the 1980s through the early 2000s, Erik Wensberg, led about 170 enthusiastic Foundation supporters on a walk through the museum’s “pit row.” At each car, Erik provided fascinating background stories about the cars, the people who drove them, how the cars came to be in the first place, how they were saved, and some of the behind-the-scenes action in the halls of BMW NA’s headquarters that resulted in one of the most successful racing efforts in the country during those times.
Everyone other than Erik probably learned much more about these great racing machines than they ever thought they would.
The following evening almost 150 guests at the Thornblade Country Club in Greer gathered for a social hour, dinner, and then the evening’s program. Racing legends Brian Redman and David Hobbs, whose careers both went back to the late 1960s and who both won significant racing victories for BMW, regaled the crowd with stories of the days when racing was much less technical and much more dangerous. Responding to questions from Erik Wensberg, Brian and David provided insights into how many of the BMW race cars in the “Heroes of Bavaria” exhibit were developed and raced.
Following the formal presentation, David and Brian signed memorabilia, books, and posters.
Attendees for both evenings included a who’s who of BMW Car Club of America members, collectors, and motorsports enthusiasts. The events drew people from all over the U.S., with some traveling from as far away as California.
The Heroes of Bavaria celebratory final weekend was the brainchild of BMW CCA Foundation trustee Jackie Bechek and was made possible by the hard work of the Foundation staff and volunteers, who were also directly responsible for creating and maintaining the exhibit itself, especially Executive Director Scott Dishman, Museum Curator Michael Mitchell, Campaign Coordinator Andrea Galehouse, the Street Survival team of Bill Wade, Tim Beechuk, Madelin Miller, and the volunteer effort of Jaynee Beechuk and numerous other trustees, Foundation Ambassadors, and volunteers.
To ensure that people who had seen the exhibit would remember it always, the Foundation commissioned a commemorative book. The full-color, hardbound book with leather cover and matching slipcase was written by noted BMW author Jackie Jouret and included professional photographs of the entire collection. Along with the photos, Jackie Jouret conducted extensive research about each car, making the book not just a memento and a work of art, but a valuable reference.
The hardbound collector’s edition of the book was given to donors to the BMW CCA Foundation’s Champions’ Campaign at the $500 level and higher. The collector’s edition print run of the book is almost sold out, but potential donors may contact the BMW CCA Foundation office if they are interested in obtaining one of the few remaining copies.
The BMW CCA Foundation’s next world-class exhibition will launch on May 18, 2018. It will be called, “The Icon: 50 Years of the 2002” presented by The Werk Shop. Since 2018 is the 50th anniversary of the BMW 2002’s arrival in the United States, this exhibition will include significant, interesting, and iconic examples of the BMW 2002, the car most responsible for establishing BMW’s presence in the U.S. and the creation of the BMW Car Club of America