PRUETT: Farewell to Turner’s BMW zombies

Jake Galstad/Motorsport Images

PRUETT: Farewell to Turner’s BMW zombies

Insights & Analysis

PRUETT: Farewell to Turner’s BMW zombies

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If and when the world is overrun by a zombie apocalypse, IMSA team owner Will Turner is sitting on the perfect getaway cars.

In fact, thanks to the motorized BMW M6 GT3 zombies he owns, the New Hampshire-based BMW aftermarket sales and tuning expert should blend right in. The unstoppable Bavarian endurance racing machine has been among the series’ greatest success stories since its debut in 2016 at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. From 78 races entered, a total of 11 races have been won by Turner Motorsport with the M6 GT3, including three this year, with the Motul Pole Award 100 contest at Daytona in January added to the tally.

Starting with the No. 96 BMW M6 GT3’s first victory taken in 2016 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park by Jens Klingmann and Bret Curtis and ending with their last triumph in June at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen with Bill Auberlen, Robby Foley and Aidan Read, a 14-percent win rate has been produced by Turner’s team.

And while many of Turner’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship rivals have traded in older GT3 models for newer iterations or switched to different manufacturers, he’s campaigned the same 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8-powered coupe and beaten its younger, fresher adversaries.

Ready for its farewell to GTD and replacement by BMW’s new-for-2022 M4 GT3 model, the old M6 that can’t be killed heads into its 79th race this weekend at Road Atlanta for Petit Le Mans where, at least in Turner’s hands, the car has 10 more hours on the clock to run before it moves onto a new home.

The numbers leading into Petit Le Mans for Turner’s BMWs are staggering. Thanks to some statistical assistance from IMSA, we’ve determined Turner’s M6 GT3s – and he’s run more than one on occasion – have completed 13,668 laps of racing since Daytona in 2016. Factor in all of the practice, qualifying, and warmup sessions, and Turner’s M6 battle axes must be over 20,000 laps in WeatherTech Championship events.

And from those 13,668 race laps, Turner’s M6 GT3s have amassed 42,775.922 miles of competition, which is the equivalent to 1.7 laps around Earth. Throw in all the non-racing mileage, and it’s easy to imagine the No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 and its sister models in Turner’s possession have done two full tours of the planet.

Turner’s BMW M6 GT3 began its first lap around the planet on its debut at the 2016 Rolex. Mike Levitt/Motorsport Images

“Six years down the road, this car is long in the tooth, but it continues to perform,” Turner told RACER. “I think it’s a double-edged sword, right? Because the longer you have a car, the more repetitive racetracks you go to with a setup that we know what worked the last time we were there, and we just improve on that each weekend. And we have three of these cars that we do drop in and out of services as needed, which means there’s work on multiple cars at times.

“So I’m not sure if it’s the car being as good as it’s been, or if it’s the combination of the team and the car working together for so long, but we know this car inside and out. I mean, so much so, that my guys don’t even want to see it anymore! They’re like, ‘We are so ready for the new car.’”

Despite Turner Motorsport’s ascendence as one of North America’s great sports teams with tours in SCCA World Challenge, Grand-Am, ALMS, SRO America and IMSA over the last 20-plus years, the outfit’s founder has a surprising detail to reveal.

“I don’t have, and I don’t own, any of my old race cars,” Turner said. “I’ve always had to sell them to afford the next model, so once we’re done at Petit, the M6s won’t go into a personal collection, because I’ve never had cars that I could keep. So it’s been it’s tough. At the time when they’re shiny and new cost so much money, they’re great, but even when they’re older and we’re done with them, I need to build some of that money back.

“So I’ll sell the old ones, and put that towards the new ones. Of course, there are couple of cars I wish I had, and I hope I can eventually get them all back, but the economics just haven’t worked out for me like that. This one’s going to find a new home, and when it goes, years from now, I’ll regret it. But you know, I like shiny and new. So having shiny and new is more important to me than having the historical stuff.”

Turner says he’ll look back on all his team achieved with the M6 GT3 with great fondness, and with a solid chance to score a farewell win, the No. 96 BMW is ready to write its final chapter with Auberlen, Foley, and Read behind the steering wheel.

“Yeah, I’m proud of what we’ve done with the car; I think we might’ve been the first to with the M6 GT3, and if we weren’t internationally, I know we’ve got to be here in North America,” he said. “My guys have won at least one race with the car every year we’ve run it, so six consecutive years with the same model of BMW. Took some big endurance wins at Petit in 2019 and Watkins Glen in ’18 and again this year. I’d say we’ve gotten just about everything out of the car you could ask.”

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