Mem­o­rable meet­ing

New Zealand Classic Car - - CONTENTS - Ash­ley Webb Ed­i­tor

In this month’s is­sue, Michael Clark gives us a true in­sight into the Chris Amon’s il­lus­tri­ous mo­tor rac­ing ca­reer in Mo­tor­sport Flash­back. Michael’s won­der­ful ar­ti­cle brought back my own short, but none­the­less mem­o­rable, time spent with Chris at his home a few years ago, when he was re­united with his BMW 3.0 CSL af­ter 38 years.

Res­i­dent of BMW’S mu­seum in Mu­nich, where it is a prized ex­hibit, the BMW 3.0 CSL — dubbed the ‘Bat­mo­bile’ due to its plethora of aero­dy­namic aids — was brought to New Zealand by BMW New Zealand to take part in the 2012 New Zealand Fes­ti­val of Mo­tor Rac­ing — Cel­e­brat­ing BMW.

On the fi­nal leg of its na­tion­wide tour, the CSL made a slight de­tour for an ap­point­ment with Chris Amon, who last saw the car he shared with Hans-joachim Stuck dur­ing the Euro­pean Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship (ETCC) se­ries back in 1973.

Af­ter a close ex­am­i­na­tion of the car in which he and Stuck had won the 6 Hours of Nür­bur­gring in that year, I sat down with Chris and was trans­ported back to a time when driv­ers such as Jackie Ste­wart, Niki Lauda, Jochen Mass, and James Hunt all vied for tour­ing-car hon­ours. And, with the ar­rival of the BMW 3.0 CSL, a mighty bat­tle for supremacy en­sued against the ri­val Capris from Cologne.

Chris ex­plained to me that he was, in fact, sup­posed to be rac­ing in For­mula 1 (F1) for Max Mose­ley’s March Team in 1973, but, in one of Mose­ley’s typ­i­cal ma­noeu­vres, he ended up rac­ing a BMW in the ETCC. Ac­cord­ing to Chris, it was an odd po­si­tion to be in, as his en­tire ca­reer to date had been pre­dom­i­nantly fo­cused on open-wheelers. Af­ter many years rac­ing in F1 — plus sev­eral Can-am drives and, of course, his epic win at Le Mans in 1966 in the Ford GT40 — rac­ing a tour­ing car pre­sented a fresh chal­lenge for Amon: the CSL was far heav­ier and less pow­er­ful than the F1 cars he nor­mally raced.

He was part of a two-car race team of Chris Amon / Hans Stuck and Di­eter Quester / Tony Haze­mans, who com­peted in the eight-round 1973 ETCC. The Capris were no match for the CSLS, and BMW won the 1973 cham­pi­onship — in­deed, BMW to­tally dom­i­nated tour­ing-car rac­ing fol­low­ing the ab­sence of its Ford ri­vals at the end of the 1974 sea­son.

Alas, the few hours I spent with Chris went by in a flash, leav­ing me with many ques­tions that I wanted to ask. I could have eas­ily sat lis­ten­ing to him for hours as he rem­i­nisced about his ca­reer, but, as the old cliché goes — all good things must come to an end.

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