Now if you're thinking that the Bavarian manufacturer hasn't been building automobiles for that long, you're technically correct. The company started out as an aircraft engine manufacturer 99 years ago in 1916. It then got into motorcycles in 1923 before rolling out its first automobile – the Dixi that was a licensed version of the Austin 7 – in 1928. However you trace the automaker's history that's still one heck of a long time. And BMW has been active in motor racing throughout, making it a worthy candidate for next year's celebration.
This won't be the first time that Munich's finest will be featured at the reunion. BMW was given the same honor back in 1996. The featured marque can alternately be an automaker, a specific model, a type of vehicle, or even an accomplished racing driver. Last year's was Maserati, preceded by the Chevy Corvette, Shelby Cobra, Jaguar, and the legendary Dan Gurney. Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Jaguar, and Porsche have each been featured thrice - that's right, thrice! - in the history of the retrospective event.
MONTEREY, Calif., August 16, 2015 — The full, rich heritage of the Ultimate Driving Machine® will be celebrated when Bavarian Motor Works is honored on the occasion of its 100th anniversary at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. The celebration takes place August 18-21, 2016 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on the scenic Monterey Peninsula.
"The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is a perfect stage on which to celebrate 100 years of BMW," stated Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO, BMW of North America, LLC. "The BMW brand and the legend of The Ultimate Driving Machine® was forged on and continues to be refined on racing circuits all over the world. In the United States, Laguna Seca has played a starring role. This year, our BMW Z4 GTLM racing cars finished 1-2 in IMSA competition there - almost 40 years to the date a BMW 3.0 CSL won our very first race on the classic circuit. BMW is delighted to be able to share our passion for great automobiles and motorsport with the world next year."
Bavarian Motor Works has an enormously rich history. The patriarchs of the brand, Karl Rapp and Gustav Otto instilled a robust DNA in the company in 1916 through the combination of their respective businesses. Beginning as an aircraft engine manufacturer, adding motorcycles in 1923 and automobiles in 1928, a century later BMW has become one of the most respected, innovative and popular brands in the world.
"We are honored that BMW will celebrate its milestone anniversary at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion," said Gill Campbell, CEO/General Manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. "Ludwig Willisch and his management team have been enthusiastic supporters of historic racing here in Monterey, right down to having Ludwig drive in the 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL. It will be a truly international gathering."
More than 900 entry applications will be received for the limited 550 positions when requests for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is open October to February. For many, the Rolex Reunion is a motorsports museum springing to life, as authentic cars from as far back as the pre-war era fire up and tackle the challenging circuit.
Following the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will remain the center of BMW focus for a second consecutive week as the circuit will host the BMW Car Club of America's annual Oktoberfest and the BMW Rider's Association Annual Rally on August 24 - 28.