Since Alexander Calder first painted a 3.0 CSL race car in 1975, BMW's art car and motorsport programs have crossed over often. Nine of the 19 numbered BMW art cars in existence are race cars, including a recent entry that featured a photo of the car on its side. That tradition grows in 2024 with a new car, an M Hybrid V8 Hypercar designed by Julie Mehretu. The car is set to be unveiled on May 21 before racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
Mehretu, an Ethiopian-American painter and visual artist known for massive and abstract painted cityscapes, began working on the project last June. BMW says that the resulting car "uses the color and form vocabulary of an existing large-format painting from a more recent series of works: obscured photographs, dotted grids, neon-colored spray paint and Mehretu’s iconic gestural markings give her design an abstract visual form."
Since current FIA regulations require the car to be covered only in film, the design will be applied in a more typical flat wrap rather than painted directly onto the car.
Mehretu says in a release that the car is inspired by an existing painting in her studio, an idea that stuck after attending the 24 Hours of Daytona. The final design builds on an idea that the car will "move through this painting." She says the idea is inspired by the second BMW art car, Frank Stella's grid on a BMW 3.0 CSL that also raced at Le Mans.
Sheldon van der Linde, Robin Frijns, and Rene Rast will run the art car for Team WRT in the top class of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The trio is part of a two-class, four-car entry for the factory BMW partner. WRT is also entering another Le Mans Hypercar and two GT3 cars, one of which is set to be driven for the full FIA World Endurance Championship season by MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi.
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