1973 BMW 3.0 CSL #28 Pilot: N. Lauda Team: BMW-Alpina Race: 1st overall (Group 2) at Coupes de Spa in 1973 Spark - SB226 (resin)
Andreas Nikolaus Lauda was born on February 22nd, 1949 in Vienna, Austria, to a wealthy family. Though destined to follow the family business, Niki Lauda had other plans. To his parent’s chagrin, he wanted to be a race driver. Starting out in local races, soon he moved on to Formula Vee and then sportscars. However, his career stalled, so he took a loan and bought his way into the March F2 team in 1971. A natural born talent, he quickly moved to the F1 team in 1972. Yet, the March cars were terrible. With that, he took another loan and in 1973 financed his way into the BRM team. Back then, professional pilots were not overly specialized, and it was common for them to race in different categories. Nonetheless an F1 racer, in 1973 Lauda also piloted touring cars, in the World Championship for Makes.
In the Makes Championship, he raced in a BMW 3.0 CSL, for the BMW-Alpina team. The 3.0 CSL was BMW’s special weapon for the ETCC. Though based on the road-going 3.0 CS and CSi models, and visually very similar, the CSL was a pure-blood racer. With aluminum doors, boot and bonnet, thinner steel for the body and Perspex side windows, it was 136 kg lighter. Powering the car was the M30 engine, an inline-6 that initially had 2985 cm³, then 3003 cm³ and later 3153 cm³. The 3003 cm³, engine, with Bosch D-Jetronic direct fuel injection, produced 197 hp. BMW used a Getrag four-speed manual gearbox and a limited speed differential for all engines. Brakes and suspension system (except for an added Bilstein gas shock) were essentially the same of the city cars. With all that, BMW had a great car, because it dominated touring races.
The 1000 Km of Spa was the fifth round of the 1973 World Championship for Makes. The race was on May 6th, a Sunday, and Niki Lauda was there, piloting a 3.0 CSL. However, on Saturday the 5th, there would be a “warm-up” race. This race was the fourth round of the Belgium Touring Championship. Called Coupes de Spa, It was a short race, disputed by many of the pilots that would race the 1000 km on the following day. Lauda was one of them, piloting the BMW-Alpina 3.0 CSL #28. In Group 2 he came in first place, almost a full minute before the second place car. The following day, in this same car and paired with Hans Stuck*, Lauda came in seventh place overall and first place in the Touring class. A gifted racer, by 1974 he found his way into the Ferrari F1 team.
Being such an obscure event, I had a hard time procuring information about the race. Therefore, I only found two photos of Lauda’s car. Even so, being a car piloted by the great Niki Lauda, it caught my attention. The model is another limited edition by Spark – #298/750. And just like my Donohue IROC 911, I also think it’s a new release. The day I bought it, I found 12 different listings for the model on eBay. Though I never saw this one before, with that many listings I deduce it’s a new release. With two in a row it looks like Spark is on a LE spree… Nonetheless, it looks awesome. So, even if from an obscure race, being a Lauda car AND a fantastic model makes it a great acquisition for the W-143 Garage.
*On the model, you can see printed on the doors, “Niki Lauda / Brian Muir”. The BMW-Alpina team consisted of Lauda, Stuck and Muir, and they had two cars in the race, #60 and #64. While the class winner was #60 (second overall), car #64 came in third overall. I think that Lauda was supposed to pair with Muir on the Spa 1000 km. Yet, he shared this #28 (renumbered to #60) with Stuck instead of Muir.