BMW Team PTG is most known for being BMW's primary motorsports research and development team in the United States from 1995 to 2006. One of their technicians gave jbh a behind the scenes look into the team's greatest moments and the lovely E36 M3 that PTG campaigned in the 90s.
I posted this video a few months ago, and for the first time in the history of the internet, I received a truly productive YouTube comment:
Steve did email me, and ended up answering a whole bunch of questions which I have posted below with some images I took shortly before my even shorter ride:
I will do my best to answer your questions, it has been a long time since the PTG/BMW program. BMW is a great company, the people and the products they produce are some of the best in the world. I cant say enough good things about them, as they were a big part of all the success during our racing program. The people at BMW North America worked so close, and well with us, and gave us the best cars we could have asked for to make the deal so successful.
First off, the car that you got a ride in was the first car built in-house at team PTG. The first cars out of the shop came in as BMW AG Motorsport cars, I cant remember if they were ex-Group A or Group N cars, that we updated and made to fit IMSA rules for GT. So the car you rode in is the car that was the First Union / Valvoline car built at PTG, and won the Daytona 24 hour, as well as the 12 Hours of Sebring, known as the PTG Lightweight.
The team worked very hard to build this car, this whole program relied on what a great team we had, not many people truly understand how much goes on behind the scenes when it come to racing, and having the right bunch of guys, who have the talent, and skills, who can work together well to get the job done, is so important to the team doing well.
-When were you with PTG?
I started at team PTG in 1996, just after the BMW deal was struck. I was there 'till 2006, just to the end of the BMW program. So with that said, I worked on every BMW built by PTG during that time, including all the customer cars we built, and built engines for etc. I also worked on most of the cars in the BMW vintage program, as we did a lot with those cars, restorations, shows, and vintage racing.
-What were your main roles with the team?
When I started at Team PTG, I worked in the chassis shop as a car tech, I had always had a race car of my own, so I fit in well. I always did my own engines, so when I had the chance, I moved to the engine shop as a engine builder, and worked my way up to dyno-operator, doing engine management.
-Where did you learn your skills?
I started out in street car shops, built and worked on my own car, street and race, learned a lot that way, but when I had the chance to go to Team PTG with BMW, I new I would only learn more, and that I did. It was a great experience, and some of the best times in my life. The people I met, the places I got to go, the things I learned will always be with me. I do miss it, and hope all my former team-mates and drivers are doing well these days.
-Why was the E36 your favorite?
The E36 is my favorite I would say because it was the first car I worked on, as well as the first to win with. It is just a great car, the perfect size and power, combined with great style.
-What was your favorite story/experience with PTG?
As far as my favorite story, well, there are a lot of them, I can take days telling stories from that time, and some I can't tell also! One of the best was after we had won the Daytona 24 and Sebring 12, IMSA made a rule change to state that the BMW E36 3.2 had to carry more weight for the rest of the season, which in fact did slow us down. So team owner Tom got the team together, talked with BMW, and we decided to build a 3 liter engine for the lightweight car for Watkins Glen. Well, we set the pole, and after qualifying at tech, the officials checked the car and said it was too light, and were going to take the pole away, then we showed them the rule was written to apply to the 3.2 liter engine and that the car had a 3.0 liter, therefor was legal.
-Did you ever get to drive any of the cars?
I did get to drive most of the team cars as well as most of the vintage cars, we had a team day at the end of every season, had the sponsors, and people from BMW come to Summit Point, and everyone got rides in the race cars, as well as a chance to drive some of them. It was always a lot of fun, the drivers would be there to take people for rides all day.
-What do you drive personally?
I drive an E36 myself today, it is a Motorsport car, but is all stock, and is my driver, I still love that car.
-What was your first car and what happened to it?
My first car was a 1971 AMC Hornet, SC360 car witch I still have. I also have a 1968 AMX drag car , I have been messing with AMC cars for a long time.
-Who's your favorite race car driver?
Well that's a tough one, I would say it is a tie between Bill Auberlen, and Boris Said. I don't want to take anything away from any other drivers we had, and there were a lot of great talent that drove the cars, But Bill and Boris were always there and were very good friends as well. I spent a lot of time with both, both at the track, as well as outside of racing. We were blessed with great driving talent during the entire program at PTG.
-What's your favorite track?
Lime Rock Hands down. It was the home track for BMW NA, in a great part of the world, lots of history, and we had great success there.