Junior Formula 101- Formula BMW Americas

The Formula BMW program began in Germany with the Formula ADAC Championship, which was run for ten years (1991-2001). ADAC stands for Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club e.V, which is regarded as Europe’s largest automobile club. BMW became the engine supplier for the Formula ADAC program, which was initially set-up to help aspiring race drivers progress from the karting ranks to cars. Eventually, BMW Motorsport wanted to take the series a step further and increase their commitment to the program. They in-turn created a new car/series known today as the Formula BMW series. The new car made its debut at Hockenheim in 2002 and is referred to as the FB02 race car.

The race car itself was designed with very specific adjustments for the drivers, offering them a feel for setting up a race car and the effect of making changes. Safety was a very high priority for BMW when creating the FB02, the cars were sent through numerous static load tests on the monocoque (cockpit) and dynamic crash tests on the nosecone until certification was given by the FIA Institute or the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile. The FIA’s main objective, as stated on their website, is to promote improvements in the safety of motorsport. They currently sanction series such as the Formula One World Championship, Formula 3, World Rally Championship, and the World Touring Car Championship. The engine powering the car actually comes from the BMW K1200RS motorcycle, offering a displacement of 1171cc. The powerplant features an inline four cylinder, 16v DOC, which makes roughly 140bhp at 9,000 rpm. The race car offers a six-speed sequential gearbox plus reverse, and weighs in at about 1,026lbs without the driver. The chassis itself is designed by the United States BMW group (Designworks/USA) in association with BMW Motorsport and Mygale. Michelin supplies all the tires for the series; utilizing both slicks and wets. (photo: http://bmw-motorsport.com/)

After the success of the Formula BMW program in Germany in 2002, the company decided to expand its development program across three continents. The expansion worked in stages, with the series first offering a championship series in Asia during the 2003 season, before expanding to four series in 2004. Germany, Asia, the United Kingdom, and the United States were offering a Formula BMW program during the 2004 season. The United States championship was known as Formula BMW-USA until 2008, when the name was changed to Formula BMW-Americas offering the series to both North and South American competitors. In an effort to be more efficient, the series made a few other changes for 2008. Formula BMW is currently offering three series: Formula BMW-Europe, Formula BMW-Pacific, and Formula BMW-Americas. Each championship utilizes standing starts similar to that of Formula One. The top drivers from each championship meet for a final showdown at the end of the season, known as the World Final. The winner of the World Final is promised a Formula One test drive with BMW-Sauber. The cost of running Formula BMW-Americas ranges from about $280,000 to $320,000 USD.

Drivers who wish to participate in Formula BMW must meet a set of standards. They must be at least 15 years old but not older than 24 years of age(without written approval from the series organizer), and must not have competed in any international racing series other than karting. They must hold an International racing license no higher than Grade C, and are required to complete a Formula BMW licensing program at one of the circuits used by the series. The licensing course is typically held in Valencia, Spain. FIA International racing licenses are graded from A to D, with a special super-license above A. The drivers participating in the series are exposed to some of the top team owners in the world during their season, racing alongside the likes of the American LeMans Series, Grand-Am, IndyCar, and the Formula One World Championship. Another perk to participating in Formula BMW is the Education and Coaching program, which consists of a series of comprehensive seminars that provide young drivers with the long term skills required in the world of motorsports. The seminars cover driving techniques, car set-up, fitness and nutrition, as well as public relations and sponsorship.

Past Formula BMW-Americas Champions

2004-Andreas Wirth (Atlantic Championship)

2005-Richard Philippe (Formula 3 Euro Series)

2006-Robert Wickens (WSR, F2)

2007-Daniel Morad (Atlantic Championship, A1GP)

2008-Alexander Rossi (Formula BMW)

Fun Fact: Most Wins in a Season (Formula BMW Americas)- 11 (Alexander Rossi)

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