Formula One won’t be the only attraction during the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend. The Red Bull Ring in Spielberg will also host the return of the BMW M1 Procar series. And what’s more is that Niki Lauda will headline the revival.
For those unfamiliar, the Procar series was run by BMW in 1979 and 1980, using race-prepared versions of the company’s legendary mid-engined supercar in support races at F1 grands prix. The series attracted drivers from F1, sports cars and touring cars, facing off in identical machinery during the European rounds of the Formula One World Championship.
Naturally the F1 drivers dominated in both seasons, winning most of the races and taking the top three spots in the standings back to back. Niki Lauda won the first championship, followed by Hans-Joachim Stuck and Clay Regazzoni. Nelson Piquet (another three-time world champ) won the following season, ahead of fellow F1 drivers Alan Jones and Stuck.
The series went dormant after the 1980 season, but has been revived for one-off exhibition races from time to time. The last was held during the 2008 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, and now they’ll be back at it again at the Red Bull Ring (formerly known as the Österreichring or A1-Ring) this weekend – and not without some serious star power.
Now the chairman of the dominant Mercedes-AMG F1 team, Lauda will return to the cockpit, but he won’t be alone. Out of 54 examples made, 14 will participate in the revival race. The others will be piloted by Stuck, Gerhard Berger, Dieter Quester, Jochen Mass and Jos Verstappen (with son Max along for the ride). Most (but not all) competed in the original series, and all are former F1 drivers, which should make it a rather stunning spectacle.