Last night, I met my hero at a barbecue.
There I was, during the run-up to this year's Rolex 24 at Daytona, face-to-face with the No. 25 BMW 3.0 Coupe Sport Leicht, one of the Group 4 racers that BMW Motorsport used to blitz the IMSA Camel GT Series in 1975. I've worshipped this car since childhood, and am happy to report that No. 25 does not disappoint in the metal.
Up close, it basically looks like someone glued gigantic shoeboxes onto an E9, painted it pretty colors, mounted Porsche 935 tires on the rear, then blasted it in the backside with aerodynamic buckshot from point-blank range.
The exhaust tips, powder coated hot-coal white and jutting out under the passenger door, are so massive you could actually trip over them. The 3.0 CSL looks wrong sitting still. It's 2400 lbs of bursting static tension, a 440-hp hand grenade about to spit out its own pin and take off down the front straight at Lime Rock, bodycheck an RSR Carrera, then hunt for Hurley Haywood's slipstream. Close your eyes, and you can hear the 3.5-liter inline six howling, all 8800 naturally-aspirated revs at maximum wind, reverberating through Mosport or Road Atlanta at levels that'd measure on the Richter scale.
Then I notice the hat and jacket.
At this barbecue, someone had haphazardly tossed a windbreaker and tweed cap over the passenger door of No. 25, right over where Brian Redman's name is stenciled in white paint. Seriously? BMW Motorsport made its North American competition debut in this car, right here at Daytona, forty years ago. It won at Sebring and Riverside. It won at Laguna Seca and Talladega. Later on, it won at Daytona, too. To me, and a lot of other people, the 3.0 CSL isn't just a touring car. It's the touring car. Who just throws their stuff on the freakin' Batmobile? But when I go to poke around the BMW again later, the jacket is gone. Standing next to No. 25, tweed cap in hand, is Brian Redman.
Here before me was the Group 4 BMW 3.0CSL, a car I'd glued together in 1:20 scale and read books about and clipped from magazines to tape on my toolbox, and Brian Redman is using it as a coat rack. Why? Because he can.
That's his car. It's his, and Hans Stuck's and Sam Posey's and Alan Moffat's and Ronnie Peterson's.
For all its loony aero and fat tires, the Batmobile never actually won a single race. Those guys did.
So I'm happy to report Brian Redman's handshake does not disappoint, and that right now there's a pack of cars reverberating through Daytona International Speedway.
Go .Your heroes are racing.