Of the 19 factory CSL race cars built, each one presents a story all its own, and each story contributes to a legacy few cars can rival. Between the drivers and the victories they achieved, every CSL bears a sense of greatness, and no two cars carry stories the same. For Chassis #2275998, the #51 3.0CSL piloted by Toine Hezemans and Dieter Quester, its results are in a class of their own - quite literally - as class winner of the 1973 24 Hours of Le Mans.
1973 was an incredible year for #51, but it didn't begin in such a way. The season-opening race at Monza presented a sunny but cool day at the track: ideal conditions for the return of BMW's factory works program to the ETCC for the first time in many years. Brambilla, piloting the Schnitzer 3.0 CSL, was putting BMW on the map with the fastest times in free practice - things looked good for BMW's return. However, come the green flag, problems plagued #51, as Hezemans complained of issues such as sticking slide throttles and suspension fatigue. Hezemans and #51 retired from the first race of the season without so much as a good time to show for it. At the following race at the Salzburgring, Hezemans put the car into a wall in an attempt to avoid a collision with a fellow BMW, losing him the race lead and putting him in 2nd place.
The #51 car didn't participate in the season's third race at Mantorp Park, but Hezemans, behind the wheel of the #2 Alpina CSL instead, earned a second-place finish. Subsequently, at the 6 Hours of Nurburgring, BMW took a full-sweep of the podium, with a CSL in all three positions. Hezemans and Quester took second once again, putting him in the top for points standings. The surge in points likely catalyzed victory for the remainder of the season, as Hezemans kicked it into high gear.
The 24 Hours of Spa brought both pain and joy. Hezemans, Quester and the #51 took the overall win, but at a great cost to the sport. Hans-Peter Joisten, driver of the #21 Alpina CSL, made a vicious pass, but carried too much speed, leading him to touch the barriers of the track. Conservation of momentum sent the CSL back on to the tarmac, causing a collision with Roger Dubos and his Alfa 2000 GTV. The two were killed instantly. Later in the race, Massimo Larini's life was claimed after a wreck at Les Combes, turns 7, 8, and 9. In the late hours of the night, rain brought troubles for more drivers, and Stuck retired another factory works CSL from the race. Bur for Hezemans and Quester, victory was snared.
Quester won again at Zandvoort, and once more at Paul Rickard with the #51 car, helping to define an unbelievable history. For the final race of the season at Silverstone, despite running out of fuel with only 3 laps to go until the end of the race, Hezemans clutched the '73 ETCC championship, with yet another notch on the belt for BMW, giving an impressive start to their return to the European Touring Car Championship. However, #51's victories weren't limited to the ETCC alone... The car, along with Hezemans and Quester once again, took a second-place finish at the Nurburgring 1000km.
However, perhaps the car's greatest accomplishment was it's victory in the G2 class at Le Mans, 1973. As one of racing's greatest events, it stands as a crowning achievement for Chassis #2275998. Today, the car is embellished with its winning colors and original livery, complete with the Le Mans scrutineer's tags, and signature embalmed within the hood's paint. Sporting its original full-size Group 2 flares and classic, unmistakable BMW Motorsport livery, #51 offers yet another example of the beauty, prowess, and power exuded by a champion.
Original: Stance Works