After no more than 16 years since the last ArtCar, BMW introduced a new creation, signed by American artist John Baldessari and based on the MW M6 GTLM. The car was one of the highlights of the 24hour race at the Daytona International Speedway and was driven by Bill Auberlen (USA), Alexander Sims (GBR), Augusto Farfus (BRA) and Bruno Spengler (CAN).
After 652 laps of racing, Farfus took the chequered flag at the wheel of the 19th member of the BMW Art Car Collection. The quartet of drivers, as well as team principal Bobby Rahal’s crew, delivered a focussed performance, despite difficult conditions with heavy rain and a total of 21 fullcourse yellows. GTLM victory went to the number 66 Ford.
The Baldessari car is only the third BMW Art Car in history to finish the 24hour race it appeared in. The same feat was only achieved by Roy Lichtenstein’s BMW 320i in the 1977 Le Mans 24 Hours and the BMW M1 Art Car created by Andy Warhol at the same event in 1979. Prior to this year’s Rolex 24, the latest BMW Art Car appearance dated back to 2010, when the BMW M3 GT2 Art Car created by Jeff Koons was sent into action at Le Mans.
In contrast, the 55th Rolex 24 At Daytona came to an early end for the number 24 BMW M6 GTLM. Only 14 laps into the race, first stint driver John Edwards (USA) came to a stop at the pit lane entrance after suffering vibration at the rear of the car. BMW Team RLL tried to get the BMW M6 GTLM back out onto the track, and Edwards did actually rejoin briefly after a long break for repairs. However, he was then forced to retire permanently just one lap later due to persisting powertrain issues. Martin Tomczyk (GER), Kuno Wittmer (CAN) and Nick Catsburg (NLD) did not play a part in the race.
John Baldessari said at the end of the race: “Everybody gave this their all, which makes me a happy man. In Daytona competition is fierce. I wholeheartedly thank BMW Motorsport, the drivers, the engineers as well as the mechanics. My car has now earned its spurs on the racetrack and has proven itself as the fastest work of art I ever created.”