It’s hard to imagine a better, more iconic racing venue than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to finish off a long and arduous season of SRO GT4 America racing. Indy has proven to be very good to the BimmerWorld Racing team over the years, and thankfully that held to be true again this year.
At the beginning of the week, the practice sessions were in mixed weather which is typical for Indy this time of year. Rain would come and go and completely flood the track, washing away any chances of fast laps or finding any sort of pace. When it came time to qualify, that didn’t seem to matter much as all six of the BimmerWorld drivers did their part putting their M4s well up the starting grid for the Thursday and Friday races.
Thursday’s race had a 5:00 p.m. start time with a cloudy but dry track. James Clay started in fifth position in the No. 36 OPTIMA Batteries / Racing to End Alzheimer’s M4, James Walker Jr. was in tenth in the No. 34 Red Line Oil car, and Chandler Hull rolled out in twelfth in the No.94 GO Organic machine. The second the green flag dropped, Clay was on the move and made his way up to second position within half a lap. Meanwhile, Walker Jr. and Hull were in non-stop battles in the top-10.
Walker Jr. was the first to dive into the pits to let Bill Auberlen take over with 34 minutes to go. Hull followed soon after with Jon Miller hopping in while Clay was in a fierce three-way battle to keep his second-place spot in front of two Mercedes AMGs for a few more laps.
After the new drivers got settled in, they all ended up in heated battles all the way to the end of the race, coming across the line in fourth in Silver class and fifth and sixth in Pro-Am.
It was the pro drivers’ turn to take the green flag on Friday with Bill Auberlen in the No. 34 Red Line Oil M4 starting sixth, Jon Miller in the No. 94 in 11th position, and Nick Galante bringing the OPTIMA Batteries / Racing to End Alzheimer’s No.36 to the green in 18th.
Friday’s race was even more frantic at the beginning as it had rained just before the start, and the weather was still looking questionable. With everyone choosing to start on slicks, there was still some dampness on track once they all got off the line. Thankfully, no more rain fell, and the track continued to dry up to allow racing that was just as intense as Thursday, with constant battles throughout the field no matter where the BimmerWorld Racing M4 GT4s were placed. Unfortunately, Auberlen had some slight contact with a competitor while dicing for position that led to retiring the No. 34 before James Walker Jr. could hop in, but not before Auberlen could put down the fastest lap of the race. The No. 94 of Miller/Hull stayed up front the entire race and managed to just barely miss the podium with a fourth-place finishing position in Silver class. Clay and Galante fought to the end and wound up in a fourth-place finish in Pro-Am, but were bumped to third after the second-place finishing Aston Martin failed its post-race inspection. That wrapped up the 2021 GT4 America Sprint X season. What an absolutely wild year of GT4 racing!
That may have been the end of the GT4 America Sprint X series, but just like last year, there was still more racing to do on this weekend. Eight more hours, in fact.
After Friday’s race, the No. 34 Red Line Oil M4 got prepped and renumbered to wear No.36. The BimmerWorld / Red Line Oil M4 GT4—No. 82 last season—took the win in the GT4 class last year in the Indy 8-Hour, and the same three drivers—Clay, Hull, and Auberlen—were back to defend their title. Accompanying the No. 36 this year was a second BimmerWorld Racing entry, the No. 82 Racing to End Alzheimer’s / OPTIMA Batteries M4 GT4 also being piloted by some familiar names—James Walker Jr. and Nick Galante along with Devin Jones for the first time back in competition since his accident last year. The team was so excited to have Devin back in the car and we knew we had two extremely strong cars and driver lineups for this 8-hour endurance race.
Qualifying for the Indy 8-Hour involves a combined lap time of all three drivers. Once everyone had their turn behind the wheel, it was the BimmerWorld No. 36 starting on second with the No. 82 close behind in fourth.
As expected, the event was roughly seven hours and 59 minutes of intense racing, crunching numbers, picking strategies, reacting to situations on track, and keeping the cars in one piece. Oh, and all that while also going as fast as possible. The mix of the much faster GT3 cars along with our GT4 race made it a continuous heads-up affair with plenty of bob-and-weave action throughout our racing battles, trying our best not to get mixed up in any unneeded contact or drama that could end up being a very costly or race-ending mistake.
In the first half, there was some confusion from the wave-around that wasn’t done promptly by the pace car during a full-course yellow that resulted in our BWR cars going a lap down to the rest of the field. This had the team scrambling to make up time and adjust strategies on the fly to make sure we could get back into contention in the second half of the race. Thankfully, the timing-and-scoring issues were taken care of, minimal mistakes were made, and through clean driving and perfect pit stops, we clawed our way back to the lead lap with both cars running in the top-five for several hours.
With the time clicking away and the final pit stops having taken place, it was down to Bill Auberlen to stay in the No. 36 car and take it home. The strategy had worked flawlessly and gave Auberlen a solid lead going into the last 45 minutes, but with the second- and third-place GT4 cars on the same lap, just a couple of turns behind.
After eight long hours, the checkers flew, and the BimmerWorld Racing team got to run out to the pit wall to cheer on their driver while taking first place in the GT4 class for the second year in a row. Just a few seconds later, the No. 82 came onto the straight away to capture fourth place after an equally clean race for all three drivers.
We can’t think of any better way to cap off the season than winning at this prestigious track with our absolutely amazing team, our incredible driver lineup, and a great series. It goes without saying that we’re already looking forward to the 2022 season.
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ABOUT: BimmerWorld is renowned as a leader in BMW aftermarket and tuning expertise, with operations spanning from stock, aftermarket, performance, and racing parts sales and development through racing from club to professional levels. BimmerWorld Racing competes primarily with the BMW Motorsport M4 GT4 in North America in both SRO and IMSA Championships, where the Virginia-based outfit has become a frequent winner and championship contender.