Schnitzer’s Charly Lamm retires
A chapter of motor racing history will come to a close at the end of this season. Charly Lamm is to hand over the tiller of Schnitzer Motorsport after a golden career as team manager of an operation that can rightly be called the greatest touring car squad of all time.
Lamm, who turns 64 next year, is too modest to agree with the proposition that he was the architect of Schnitzer’s successes with BMW across the everchanging touring car landscape over a span of 40 years, not to mention its achievements in sportscar racing. But it was under his watch as team manager that it racked up major tin-top titles all over the world, won the Spa 24 Hours four times and triumphed in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Schnitzer’s first major championship success came with a small side-operation headed by Lamm when he was still a student 40 years ago. He ran the Schnitzer BMW 320i, in which Harald Ertl claimed the German DRM title (below), while on a work placement with the team as part of his industrial engineering studies at Munich University.
Lamm brought a new attention to detail to touring car racing before and after he joined the family team – which had been founded by his half-brothers Herbert and Josef Schnitzer – full-time in 1981. Schnitzer’s organisation and its prowess in the pits often made the difference in the Group A era of the European Touring Car Championship in the 1980s. It would win the series known simply as the ETC three times, as well as the original, one-off World Touring Car Championship spawned by it with Roberto Ravaglia in ’87.
Now, he reckons, it’s time to step back. “There comes a time in life where you have to be a little bit more calm,” he says. “I’ve been driven my whole life by the rhythm of preparing for the next race or test. It’s been fascinating, but maybe my drive is going down a little bit. I don’t want to be going to the next race just to tick it off.”
And the biggest success of a career with Schnitzer that began after he was handed timing duties by the team while still at school? “The race of my motor racing life has to be Le Mans ’99,” he says. “We didn’t get so many chances to win there, but the reputation of that race makes it an amazing result.”