BMW had always been quite successful in GT racing. Beginning with the 2800CS, then the 3.0CSL, the Bavarian sedans had often been successful in the European Touring Car Championship, in DRM, and then in the IMSA Camel GT Championship. Following two mitigated seasons with the CSLs, BMW was concentrated its efforts on the World Manufacturer's Championship, with the Group 5 320. BMW North America decided to run a similar car in the IMSA Camel GT Championship. However, the preparation and the running of the car was handed to MacLaren North America. The car was debuted at Daytona in 1977 for the 24 Hour race and was fitted with a 2,0L Formula 2 engine. The car was driven by David Hobbs-Sam Posey and Ronnie Peterson. After qualifying in 19th position, the car did prove neither fast nor reliable. It retired after 235 laps, and was not a contender for victory at all. For the next race, the car was fitted with a 2,0L turbocharged engine. The car suffered from a lack of power at low speed, but could give more than 600hp at top-end. David Hobbs had to push it hard, and he really knew how to do it! Nicknamed the Flying Brick, it was damn fast! MacLaren had added cooling systems for both oil and water. New plugs and rings had been installed to handle the horsepower. The first race was yo be held at Road Atlanta in 1977. There, David Hobbs took the start from the back of the field to finish an impressive fourth overall. They had a misfire during practice leading to a short-circuit. The team had handled it in a magnificent way. It was a good start from that point. The next race at Laguna Seca was even more promising, with David Hobbs starting from the pole. For the race, David Hobbs led the first few laps but then was slowed by the plugs leading to a misfire. It led to a retirement. The next race, held at Mid America, was a failure, the car being the first to retire from the race. The injectors were the main problem for the car. The next race, held at Lime Rock, saw David Hobbs hold second place in the race behind Al Holbert's Chevrolet Monza. Unfortunately, a broken fuel line sidelined him three laps from the finish. The car again had a misfire! The next race was a turning point in the car's recognition as a true winner. David Hobbs won his first race of the season. He had to fight a big challenge from Danny Ongais. When the Hawaiian made a mistake, David Hobbs passed him and cruised to a well deserved victory. The next race, at Brainerd, could have been the same, but after leading the race when he switched for rain tyres before everyone, the car had to retire. The gearbox and the differential had suffered too much strain. Missing the next race held at Daytona, the team had decided to concentrate on the next event, at Sears Point. This proved to be the right decision, as David Hobbs led the race from start to finish to win by a 26s margin over Al Holbert. Pocono was quite different with Al Holbert's domination from the beginning. David Hobbs broke his differential. The next race was a special one, with a string of four Porsche 935s entered for star drivers such as Jacky Ickx, George Follmer, Peter Gregg and Jim Busby. David Hobbs was partnered by Eddie Cheever, but the car was again stopped by a misfire, again, an retired on lap 86. The car could run with the Porsche 935s, which was quite a satisfaction for the team.
Copyright Mark Windecker
The next race, at Road Atlanta proved more satisfactory with a new victory for David Hobbs. This time, he had to fight his way back to the lead after a bad start, and he won in an impressive manner. It was too the first time that Al Holbert was beaten at "his" track. David Hobbs completely blew his start and was seventh at the end of lap one. But he consistently made up his way back to the lead. It was probably the most convincing win of the year. At the Daytona Finale, David Hobbs started second but he did not last more than four laps. He had a tangle with a backmarker which led to an overheating, and a very early retirement. The 1977 season was finished and the season to come would bring several rules changes, and the main concern for the team was to know whether the car could keep up with the Porsche 935s, which were now allowed to run in the new GTX class. At Daytona, the BMW 320 Turbo qualified third overall, but the practice session was run under a wet track. The beginning of the race saw the car lead the race, but it never actually led one lap, because of the numerous lead changes amongst the leaders. Later in the race, David Hobbs spun and lost a few places, but he experienced then cooling problems that led the car to a retirement on lap forty seven. The next race was to be held at Sebring. There, the car proved particularly efficient, with David Hobbs shattering the previous lap record by twelve seconds! Even with the help of some specially qualifying tyres, it was quite fantastic and proved the car's efficiency. The second fastest car was two seconds slower, a Dick Barbour Porsche 935, driven by Rolf Stommelen! The beginning of the race was to confirm the little brick's domination, and the car led several laps. But it was soon plagued with fuel feed problems, and then the car had to undergo a very long pit stop for a fuel tank repair. It was over for the car.
For the next race, at Road Atlanta, David Hobbs had chassis #003 for that race.It was a different story, with Peter Gregg dominating the practice with his new Porsche 935, in the same way David Hobbs dominated Sebring. The race did not start too badly, and David Hobbs was fighting for a top five position. But he broke a wheel when he hit Don Whittington's Porsche 935, and retired. At Laguna Seca, George Follmer dominated the race. David Hobbs had a great duel in the race, but it was only to settle for fourth. Victory was not long to come for the new car as David Hobbs won the next race at Hallett. He was just ahead of John Paul, who drove a Greenwood Chevrolet Corvette.
Lime Rock was a bit different as Peter Gregg again won easily, and David Hobbs finished fifth. The next race, at Brainerd, seemed to bring the team some reasons to look forward to the race. The car was faster than everyone, but it lasted only three laps, and then the engine burned a piston. It was another disappointment. At Daytona, for the night Paul Revere race, it was yet another dnf in the race, when mechanical problems sidelined the car. The next race, at Sears Point, seemed to bring back some luck to the team. The car was again extremely fast in practice and, at the start, it was again John Paul who took the lead. Waiting for the right moment, he passed John Paul and then went on to win the race easily when the Corvette retired from the race. At Portland, it was quite different for the team as Peter Gregg dominated the practice sessions, and the race. David Hobbs had to fight hard against John Paul during the race, when his metering unit seized and it was another retirement.
At Mid Ohio, the race was exciting as David Hobbs, partnered by Tom Klausler, had a great fight with Milt Minter, who drove Cliff Kearns' Porsche 935. They were together until lap 37, when they pitted for fuel. David Hobbs was to be brought to the hospital, suffering from heat exhaustion. Tom Klausler then took the lead of the race but he was caught by a flying Bill Whittington, who took the lead, and later, the win. David Hobbs, who was back at the track, had taken the wheel of the car but a last unexpected pit stop due to an alternator repair settled the car for second place.
Copyright Mark Windecker
At Road Atlanta, the car qualified three seconds faster than in april, but it was not the fastest car however. Doing well in the race, David Hobbs was fourth when he had a puncture. He resumed the race but had to retire later when his alternator failed. The Daytona Finale seemed to prove the car's improval, he was third but again, mechanical troubles forced the car to retire.
The 1978 season was relatively mitigated for the team, but as David Hobbs put it later, it seemed that BMW Germany did not bring a great support to the team. The arrival of the M1 was at stake, Jochen Neerpasch, head of BMW Motorsport, thinking that this future car would be a killer. Yet, BMW North America did not imply into a full racing program. Retrospectively, it seems that the car's potential was there and it could have been a real winner, would it have had more support.
The 1979 season would be the last one. Unlike the previous season, the team chose not to enter the enduros, concentrating on the shorter events. The first race was at Road Atlanta, where David Hobbs qualified second behind Peter Gregg. The race was again all Gregg, while David Hobbs seemed to settle for second when the rain again began to fall. David Hobbs then his battery went flat and he had to be content with a sixth overall. This race was the first one for Jim Busby's similar car. He had a great race when he passed car after car to finish second for the car's very first race! At Riverside, Jim Busby had a slightly different race when he lost his rear end after fifteen minutes. David Hobbs, co-driven by Manfred Winkelhock, lasted fifty five laps to retire with a shortage of rings. The next race was to be held at Laguna Seca, a course which had been favorable to the BMWs. David Hobbs and Jim Busby qualified third and fourth. Peter Gregg and Danny Ongais had a race of them but Peter Gregg once would be unbeatable. Danny Ongais was slowing with a sick turbo and the two BMWs were just behind him, Jim Busby leading David Hobbs. But Jim Busby would be in trouble with his crankshaft and then retire, leaving David Hobbs who charged hard at Danny Ongais. He finally passed him to finish second. Hallett was a track that seemed well suited to the BMWs as David Hobbs repeated his win from the previous year. As Peter Gregg led the race, he was surprised by a spinning Preston Henn and collected a bit of his bodywork. David Hobbs was waiting for his time and he slipped by very cleverly to win "his" race. Once again, Jim Busby retired early in the race.
At Lime Rock, the rain was the main contender and Peter Gregg was again the winner. David Hobbs could not challenge the Porsche driver as he had to fight with a drowned windshield. He managed to finish second, despite some pit stops to wipe it clear. Brainerd had been disappointing the previous year when David Hobbs lasted only three laps. Again Peter Gregg dominated the race as he did many times in 1979. Behind him though, Danny Ongais kept second for a while but he had to pit with turbo troubles. David Hobbs inherited the second place with Jim Busby just behind him. But Jim Busby would soon have an oil fire which would result again in a dnf. David Hobbs ended the race in a poor handling car, which made him be content with a second place finish. The next race, the Paul Revere 250 at Daytona, was to no avail for the team as it was a new retirement in the race, without being a threat to anyone. At Mid Ohio, David Hobbs was on the front row, again alongside Peter Gregg, who was partnered by long time fellow Hurley Haywood. He had Derek Bell as a co-driver and could hope to do well in such a race. Jim Busby debuted the new BMW M1 and would have a great race at his wheel. In fact, David Hobbs would hit a guard rail after eight laps, and lose five ones in the process.
Copyright Mark Windecker
The pair would finish ninth overall, in spite of this off course. The BMW M1 finished third overall, which was a fantastic result for such a car. Sears Point was a race to forget as the two cars retired from the race. David Hobbs was clearly second when he tangled with Bill Whittington, and retired. Jim Busby had qualified second, but did not last more than five laps. His car seemed to suffer from reliability problems. Portland again did not bring any luck to the bimmers as Peter Gregg again dominated the race. David Hobbs was alongside him but he would retire after four laps when his water pump belt let go. Jim Busby would have to pit for a tyre while in fifth place, he would finish seventh. The next race, the first ever Road America 500km, was a strange race but it was too a new, and the last BMW 320 Turbo win. The car did suffer from fuel pickup problems and had to stop every 17 laps. But the David Hobbs-Derek Bell duo managed to set a real good pace, and won over Charles Mendez-Paul Miller in a Porsche 935.
At Road Atlanta, Peter Gregg won again but he was lucky. Once again, David Hobbs managed to finish in a top position while Jim Busby had to retire when he collided with another car. A bad brake line was the cause for the retirement.
The last race ever for the BMW 320 Turbo was the Daytona Finale 1979. There, the MacLaren car was the only car entered. Jim Busby concentrated his effort on developing the M1 car. Unfortunately, this race would be over very soon, as a ventilated block, caused an early retirement after four laps. It would be the last time a BMW 320 Turbo would be seen in an IMSA race. The program would be over, as future plans were to develop the new flagship : the BMW M1.