BMW Art Car to Race in North America for First Time in 2017 Rolex 24 At Daytona
Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Since 1975, world-renowned artists such as Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, David Hockney and Jeff Koons have used BMW race cars as their canvas to create rolling works of art.

Several of these Art Cars were designed specifically as exhibits and never raced. Some competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans or major championships in Australia.

In 2017, however, a BMW Art Car will race in North America for the first time in the 55th Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 28-29, the season-opening race for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Last night at Art Basel in Miami Beach, the No. 19 BMW M6 GTLM by John Baldessari – an American master of conceptual art and legend of the Los Angeles art scene – was unveiled at an exclusive reception at the Botanical Garden of Miami Beach.

“Given the history and prestige of the program over several decades, it is truly an honor for IMSA being selected to have the first BMW Art Car to race in North America in the field for the 55th Rolex 24 At Daytona,” said IMSA CEO Ed Bennett, who was in attendance at the Art Basel unveiling. “This car will race just once – in our season-opening race – before it becomes a treasured piece of art to be displayed in exhibitions and museums around the world.”

The car carries the No. 19 as it is the 19th BMW Art Car and will be co-driven in the Rolex 24 by Bill Auberlen, Alexander Sims, Augusto Farfus and Bruno Spengler. Baldessari described this project as a “rolling sculpture.”

“It is an honor to add this new masterpiece by John Baldessari to the BMW Art Car Collection today,” said BMW of North America President and CEO Ludwig Willisch. “As one of the most important contemporary artists working today, John joins an incredible group from Calder and Hockney to Warhol and Koons that has contributed to this collection over the past 40 years. He has used his signature aesthetic combining color, shapes and text to create a visually stunning work, which will stand out at both the museum and on the racetrack in Daytona early next year.”

The design of the car united Baldessari’s creative practices from the past 50 years. As a committed minimalist, he worked with the colors red, yellow, blue and green and with monochromatic dots. The right side of the car features a graphic reflection of the car in profile, while the left side features the word “FAST” as a central typographical element to make it visually accessible for viewers at the race track as well as the museum.

“I have done only one work in my life involving a car before, and that was an image of a car,” Baldessari said. “So for the BMW Art Car project, I entered uncharted territory, not just in terms of the subject, but also moving from two- to three-dimensional art, a challenge I did enjoy!

“The ideas came all at once. For instance, the red dot on the roof, so you can see it from above, FAST on one side and a picture of the car on the other side. I like the ambiguity, having two dimension and three dimension at the same time. Considering the car as an icon of contemporary life, my concept turned out playfully satirical, but also highlights some of the trademark ideas that I use. So you can say the BMW Art Car is definitely a typical Baldessari and the fastest artwork I ever created!”

The No. 19 BMW will be fielded by BMW Team RLL. Since 2009, the team and BMW Motorsport North America have won five titles and 12 races.

“It will be a great honor for us to present the 19th BMW Art Car on the race track – and especially to bring it to an event steeped in tradition such as the 24 Hours of Daytona,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “The design of this BMW M6 GTLM is absolutely unique. We will give our very best to ensure that this rolling work of art will not only provide a visual highlight but also be successful on the track.”