It's a tragic coincidence that on the same weekend the BMW M4 Coupe Concept was introduced in Monterey, one of the men most integral to BMW's M and Motorsports divisions, Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, was killed in England. Kalbfell, a vintage motorcycle enthusiast, was set to compete in the Lansdowne Classic Series at Brands Hatch and had an accident during a practice session. After going wide at Druids Corner and falling, he was hit by a competitor following close behind and died of his injuries after being transported to hospital.
Kalbfell, an engineer, began his career at BMW in 1977 in the communications department; a decade later he was chairman of BMW M GmbH, overseeing development of some of the cars responsible for the myth of M. In 1994 he was named chairman of BMW Motorsport, and his cap full of feathers includes getting the BMW V12 into the McLaren F1, getting the BMW V8 into two Morgan cars, along with developing BMW's Formula One engine and return to the sport. Not incidentally, he also assumed leadership of Project Rolls-Royce after BMW bought the British marque in 1998, which means he oversaw the Goodwood factory upfit and the creation of the Phantom.

He left Rolls-Royce for a brief stint at Fiat, heading Alfa Romeo and Maserati, then went into consulting for clients like Lotus and Paragon, who built the Artega GT. As Autocar notes, Kalbfell "had an abiding sense that customers needed to be attracted to cars by their aura and reputation, not just their engineering." He will be missed.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 30 Comments
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      RIP Kalbfell.
      NightFlight
      • 2 Years Ago
      Condolences to his family. Not such great news to start off our week with....
      Gary Miller
      • 2 Years Ago
      My daughter died going to nursing school...it didn't comfort us at all her doing what she loved while dying. Dead is dead and it's final
      Becky
      • 2 Years Ago
      Dying doing what they love? I remember watching a downhill skier talk about how dangerous the sport was and how friends of hers died doing it. The reporter stated "At least they died doing what they love" The skier immediately stated that was the most ridiculous thing to say. She stated that no one wants to die and dyng doing something that they love makes no difference. She stated the last thing she wanted to do was to die alone cold and scared on a mountain.
      Eggshen
      • 2 Years Ago
      R.I.P.
      vi_per
      • 2 Years Ago
      Terrible way to go out.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @vi_per
        [blocked]
          • 2 Years Ago
          [blocked]
          Pj Taintz
          • 2 Years Ago
          i agree with you, not sure why you are being downvoted. id much rather go out doing what i love than a slow painful death.
          Agilis
          • 2 Years Ago
          It was distasteful to say the least.
      napoleon
      • 2 Years Ago
      yeah its sad! i too enjoy motorcycles by just look at them going by thats about it
      SteveM
      • 2 Years Ago
      Tragic... sorry to read this. If there is any positive in it, he died doing something he obviously enjoyed. Little comfort to his family I'll bet.
      pumaray
      • 2 Years Ago
      This concept of dying while doing something you love has to be the most stupid thing I've ever heard. What if I enjoyed teaching children, rock climbing, or flying a commercial jet more than anything else? The very last thing I would want to do is to leave a negative mark on an activity I loved. Given a choice I'm sure Karl would have rather died in a more private setting, not one that will haunt those who were involved or witness the tragic death. There is no silver lining on this death unless they're able to trace the cause of his crash and take steps to see that no one else suffers as a result.
      Koenigsegg
      • 2 Years Ago
      "I'd rather drive a motorcycle than a smart car" "I'd feel safer on a motorcycle than in a smart car" - random dummies .... RIP
      bleexeo
      • 2 Years Ago
      Dying on track while participating in motorsports is not a 'freak' accident. Obviously. The headline writers at AB seem to not know what they are doing lately.
        Ducman69
        • 2 Years Ago
        @bleexeo
        Actually deaths from racing, particularly less quick vintage machines, on a regulated track is reasonably rare. The fact that they have big wide run offs with virtually nothing to run in to and are usually extremely well protected with full leathers and helmets and corner workers to flag for accidents and the like means serious injuries are rare. It is a bit of a freak accident that another motorcycle hit him, and hit him in a way that was fatal.
        Making11s
        • 2 Years Ago
        @bleexeo
        Agreed. This is very sad, but dying while doing something fairly risky (i.e. racing vintage motorcycles) isn't a freak accident.
        Pj Taintz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @bleexeo
        it started when they sold out to AOL, and got worse when huff po got involved.
        Narom
        • 2 Years Ago
        @bleexeo
        How many people have died in Formula One recently? Or WRC? Or Touring Car?
          Steve Sweetz
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Narom
          Car racing != motorcycle racing. There's at least a few every year when you take all events into account: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rider_deaths_in_motorcycle_racing
      Technoir
      • 2 Years Ago
      RIP Mr. Kalbfell. He was a real engineer with real skill and talent, not a bean counter.
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