After making a successful start to his racing career in karts and single-seaters, Sacramento, California’s Joey Hand became a BMW factory driver in 2004, when he joined BMW Team PTG at the age of 24. Hand raced with BMW in Grand-Am GT during the team’s two-year hiatus from the American Le Mans Series, and when BMW rejoined the ALMS in 2006, Hand went with them, scoring three podiums in the GT class that year.
He left BMW for a stint with Panoz, but returned in 2009 and promptly won at Lime Rock (teamed with Bill Auberlen). Hand has been with BMW ever since, and in 2011 he cemented his status as one of the factory’s fastest drivers by winning ALMS GT driver’s championship (with Dirk Müller) in the BMW Team RLL M3 GT.
In 2012, Hand took on the challenge of racing in the ultra-competitive Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) series in addition to his ALMS duties. Like many drivers, including former F1 pilots, Hand had a tough first year in DTM, finishing 20th for the season.
Things improved greatly in 2013. Driving for a different BMW Motorsport team, Team RBM of Brussels, Belgium, Hand finished 12th out of 22 drivers, with a best result of fifth at Brands Hatch, England. Hand was steadily improving until the final race of the season at Hockenheim, where Team RBM’s M3s were well off the pace for both Hand and his fellow driver Augusto Farfus right from the start. In what must have been one of the worst weekends of his career, Hand finished last after his car was put onto slick tires on a still-wet track in order to gather data.
Despite his disappointment, Hand remained gracious as ever after the race, indulging our request for an interview before joining the season-ending party in the BMW hospitality lounge. Although the BMW Motorsport drivers for 2014 hadn’t been announced at press time, Hand is expected to return for a third season in DTM while continuing to race the Z4 GTE with BMW Team RLL in North America.
Bimmer: You’ve probably just had one of the worst races of your life, so let’s start on a positive note. Tell me what you’ve enjoyed about racing in the DTM.
Joey Hand: What first comes to mind is how tough it was—having to learn so much stuff, because it’s been a long time since I had to do something like that. You learn all the time, obviously, when you do something, but endurance racing, American Le Mans, Rolex—I knew a lot about it. I knew the pit stop strategy, I knew the car, I knew where the buttons were, I knew where the hotels were, I knew where the tracks were.