The BMW M1 Procar Championship, sometimes known simply as Procar, was a one-make auto racing series created by Jochen Neerpasch, head of BMW Motorsport GmbH, the racing division of automobile manufacturer BMW. The series pitted professional drivers from the Formula One World Championship, World Sportscar Championship, European Touring Car Championship, and other international series against one another using identically modified BMW M1 sports cars.
The championship served as support races for various European rounds of the 1979 Formula One season, with Formula One drivers earning automatic entry into the Procar event based on their performance in their Formula One cars. Austrian Niki Lauda won the inaugural championship. In 1980, the series held some events outside of Formula One schedule, and was won by Brazilian Nelson Piquet. BMW chose not to continue the championship in 1981 to concentrate on their entrance into Formula One.
All cars used in the Procar Championship were built to identical standards, although their origins varied. The racing cars, designed to meet Group 4 technical regulations, shared only some basics from the M1 road cars.
Mechanically, the Procar M1s were extensively modified to meet the requirements of circuit racing. The standard M1 featured the BMW M88 straight-6 engine with 3.5 litre displacement. The Procar M1 used modified version of M88/1 and it was capable of producing 470 horsepower at 9000 rpm, compared to 277 hp from the standard M1’s engine. The 5-speed ZF gearbox housing from the road car was retained, but with multiple gear ratios allowed, as well as its own oil cooler. The suspension was entirely different, adding adjustable anti-roll bars.
The brakes were redesigned to adapt the use of a driver-adjustable brake pressure balance, while the servo-activated braking system was removed. A racing steering rack was used in place of the standard power steering unit. Goodyear racing tires were used on all cars. All other non-essential items from the road car were not included, bringing the Procar M1’s weight down to 2,200 lb. The performance of the Procar M1s was increased to a top speed of 193 mph (311 km/h) and acceleration from 0–60 mph (0-100 km/h) in 4.3 seconds. Each Procar M1 cost approximately $60,000.