–Art Simonds, one of the founding members of BMW Motorsport. In the early 1970s, Simonds helped design the revolutionary aerodynamic components on BMW’s factory race cars before returning to California in 1974. Simonds came out of retirement to build replicas of the original aerodynamic parts and put them back where they belonged.
Prologue: Willi Martini builds his last Batmobile
Let us start at the beginning, with Willi Martini himself. In 1958, after a stint at BMW in Munich, he returned to Adenau and took over the former Veritas race shop behind the grandstands at the Nürburgring. Martini started off by building Formula Juniors for Wolfgang von Trips, and his pioneering work in fiberglass served him well when he began building racing versions of the humble BMW 700 in 1965. Along with helping
to save BMW from bankruptcy, the Mothership’s Einstiegsmodell turned out to be a surprisingly capable basis for a race car, especially after Martini bumped horsepower from 40 to 52 and fitted it with an aerodynamic fiberglass body.
When 700 production ended in 1965, Martini moved on to cars based on the Neue Klasse sedans, and he expanded his operation with a new dealership in Adenau. The Nürburgring location allowed his Renngemeinschaft to have a close relationship with BMW in the days before BMW Motorsport was founded in 1972.
Despite his long history with the marque, Martini’s tiny team was gradually overtaken by bigger outfits like Alpina—which had developed the CSL for BMW in 1971—Schnitzer and eventually BMW’s own Motorsport division. In 1982, Martini sold his race shop to BMW outright, with his dealership being absorbed into the Mothership nine years later.
“Sadly, Martini never was able to make a name for himself in the U.S.,” says Kincaid, “but in Europe he’s still a legend.”