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.