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Two Renowned BMW Race Cars Add Motorsport Flair to Upcoming “NA Heroes” Grid Icons
BY Mike Maravilla //
March 1, 2024
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Photography: Pit+Paddock
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  • “Grid Icons” remixes the traditional car show concept to focus on quality over quantity and highlights standout marques in the automotive world.
  • The third Grid Icons event, called “NA Heroes”, is on March 23, 2024, and partners Pit+Paddock with BMW CCA to celebrate an iconic era of naturally aspirated BMW M machinery.
  • Official partnerships from Akrapovič, AST/MOTON, H&R, and ST Suspensions highlight the industry’s support of the effort and will help elevate the experience for BMW enthusiast attendees.
  • Two special cars from BMW Motorsport’s collection—an E92 M3 GT and Z4 GTLM—will take center stage at NA Heroes for a rare public appearance and guided showcase by BMW NA.

Yesterday was February 29th, which added an excruciating extra day to our NA Heroes countdown. Nevertheless, the dawn of March presented another opportunity to peel back the curtain a little further on our next Grid Icons chapter. This next layer opened the door to a goal that we’ve always had since Pit+Paddock wanted to become an agency as much as an online magazine: establish working ties with an OE manufacturer.

THE BUILDING BLOCKS

Indeed, so much of what we’ve done over the last three years has led to this point. Traditionally, agencies aren’t as front-facing as Pit+Paddock, but that contrast to convention was strategic to help catapult the visibility of our brand and how we can do the same for our clients. As the industry takes notice, our NA Heroes event in partnership with the BMW Car Club of America (BMW CCA), is the next evolution of that proof.

MOTORSPORT ACCESS

Our first two Grid Icons events achieved important aims: the first Skyline GT-R event established the series’ intent, while the second VW and Audi show helped re-ignite a community that had long been stagnant. The third effort—the upcoming NA Heroes event—will recognize BMW M’s contributions, both as the street cars we know and love and as prolific motorsport machines. The latter aim is where NA Heroes will flex those aforementioned OE ties. Two incredibly special cars from BMW Motorsport’s private collection will be featured front and center for a rare public appearance: the E92 M3 GT and Z4 GTLM.

AN UNDISPUTED CHAMPION

The E92 M3 GT was born into a world of fierce competition. This was the era of the  Flying Lizard 997 GT3 and the factory-backed Corvette C6.R. Nevertheless, BMW was never one to back down from a challenge. The 9,500rpm, 2800lbs P65-powered GT was an aural treat to hear at full chat and a revelation to behold visually. Next to the equivalent street car, it was menacingly wide and almost impossibly low. The drivetrain configuration was shifted to a transaxle arrangement and the driver’s seating position sits nearly a foot rearward of the street car. The changes achieve a 46/54 weight distribution, which is vastly preferred for motorsport use. The result of all that work was two class championships over three seasons in the American Le Mans Series against those aforementioned rivals, one drivers’ championship, back-to-back Sebring 12 Hours GT class wins, and more.

A WORTHY SUCCESSOR

A trio of Z4s—the GTE, GT3, and GTLM—were the spiritual successors of the E92 M3 GT. Compared to the M3 GT, the Z4 was both lower and even wider. The new shape helped direct more turbulence-free air onto the rear wing than its predecessor allowed.

In many ways, these cars gave us hope that BMW would, eventually, create a street-going M coupe equivalent but we’d have to make do with admiring these slick tops in motorsport trim. Despite a less favorable 50/50 weight distribution, the Z4 proved to be an exceptionally precise handling car—something that helped make up for a straight-line speed deficit.

Each variant touted various levels of success throughout its three-year run, including several 1-2 finishes and pole position honors. 2015 marked the 40th anniversary of BMW Motorsport’s first North American race and the start of the 1975 IMSA season for the iconic BMW 3.0 CSL. The Z4 GTLM finished second and fourth at the 24 Hours of Daytona wearing a special homage livery (to the CSL) for the occasion.

COUNTDOWN BEGINS

Grid Icons: NA Heroes is officially 23 days away. Sign up today via our Eventbrite page and stay tuned for even more special announcements as the date draws closer. Thank you to our official industry partners—Akrapovič, AST/MOTON, H&R, and ST Suspensions—for supporting this effort and we can’t wait to see you all in Long Beach soon.


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