In a chaotic little shop in the uninspiring suburb of Duarte, California, east of Los Angeles, sits one of the most legendary BMW race cars in the history of the Mothership. The Martini CSL Batmobile is freshly restored and ready for the track, beginning the latest chapter in a story whose cast of characters is nearly as colorful as the green-and-white livery that signals this car’s Nürburgring origins.
In order of appearance, our cast includes:
–Willi Martini, the “Meister” himself. Born in 1925 in Adenau, Germany, home of the Nürburgring, Martini started building airplanes at Heinkel while he was still a teenager. After World War II, he joined Veritas, the race car company run by ex-BMW men. Veritas’ Nürburgring shop eventually became his, and Martini used it to build everything from Formula Juniors to Porsche 911s and more than a few BMWs.
–Martini’s sons, Michael and Oliver. Michael raced his dad’s cars and later became a BMW test driver as well as the first pilot of the ’Ring Taxi. Both Martini brothers were instrumental in getting this car restored, supplying important and detailed information about its history and that of the Martini Renngemeinschaft, or racing company. And which, by the way, should never be confused with the Italian vermouth distillery that sponsors the Martini Racing F1, rally and sports car teams.
–Jimmy Baker, the “Stocking King of Fort Payne, Alabama.” The longtime BMW enthusiast stumbled upon the Martini Batmobile on an Amsterdam used-car lot that specialized in vintage cars.
–Bill Kincaid, the co-inventor of Apple’s iTunes and an avid vintage racer. Kincaid bought the Martini Bat from Baker, intending to restore it to its former glory.
–Ron Perry, enlisted by Kincaid to organize the car’s restoration. Bimmer readers know Perry well by now, and many will remember the Batmobile he restored for racing legend Bobby Rahal a few years ago.