Charly Lamm

Freilassing is a tranquil place, A city of 17,000 souls, embedded in an idyllic mountain backdrop. Even though it seems to be located in a deserted corner of Bavaria, Freilassing is the undisputed centre on the touring car racing map. It was from here that Karl Lamm, known only as Charly in the paddock, and BMW Team Schnitzer conquered the world of motorsport, and shaped it for decades. The greater the shock when the motorsport family mourned the loss of Charly. He was 63 years old.

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Charly following in the footsteps of his older half-brothers Josef and Herbert Schnitzer into motorsport one day was always clear somehow. BMW and Schnitzer Motorsport had formed a successful alliance on the racetrack since the 1960s. Charly soon found his place in the team and went his own way. Driven by passion, meticulousness and the desire to get to know the world. “Our home city of Freilassing wasn’t exactly the hub of the motorsport world back then,” he said at one time. He always enjoyed living and working here. “But I soon realised that our racing team would give me the opportunity to get out and broaden my horizons. When we raced in America or Asia later on, I would often stay an extra week with my rucksack and travel around. It was a real privilege.”

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Charly Lamm talking to mechanics
Charly Lamm

The concept of “petrol running through your veins” was invented for Charly. From six in the morning until midnight, the only thoughts running through his mind were how to make his car, drivers and team even better and even faster. Life without racing? Inconceivable for Charly! “Having experienced so much, I don’t want to miss out,” he said. “With the will, a good team and drivers, who really give it their all, you can move mountains,” And he did.

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Even during his school days, the stroke of engines determined the rhythm of Charly’s life. “They didn’t often see me at the grammar school on Fridays and Mondays.” He said that in the style typical for Charly: abruptly, with a Bavarian flavour to his accent and a mischievous grin on his face. As a youth, Charly was already a regular Schnitzer team guest at the racetracks of the world. Initially as an “apprentice”. Little by little, he was trusted with increasingly significant tasks – until he became team principal and the chief decision-maker. What a career! A life in the fast lane.



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Charly Lamm holding the Trophy in his hands
BMW 2002

The list of successes that Schnitzer achieved under Charly’s direction is long. Even in extracts they would fill a motorsport almanac. And he always remained loyal to his brand. Charly celebrated wins exclusively with BMW racing cars or engines. And Schnitzer celebrated great successes in motorsport even before Charly – but the team became a legend with him. In the 1980s, the team dominated touring car racing. Dieter Quester became European Touring Car Champion in the BMW 635 CSi in 1983. Schnitzer won the 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps for the first time in 1985, with Gerhard Berger, Roberto Ravaglia and Marc Surer. This started the era that Charly would later describe as “our time”.

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With the BMW M3, Charly consistently led the Schnitzer team to new successes. “We were the invincibles,” he said. “We had a run, the BMW M3 was phenomenal. Everything came together.” Winning the World Touring Car Championship, winning the European Touring Car Championship again, DTM victory, titles in Italy, Great Britain and in Asia, overall victory in the Super Touring Car Championship. When Schnitzer competed, it rained trophies. But the “race of our life”, as Charly would later describe it looking back, was yet to come.

In 1999, BMW and the Schnitzer team headed to Sarthe. The legend of Schnitzer meets the legend of Le Mans. The appearance turned out to be a victory. Charly and the Schnitzer team won the most famous 24-hour race in the world with the BMW V12 LMR and the drivers Yannick Dalmas, Pierluigi Martini and Joachim Winkelhock, in the face of strong competition.

For many teams and drivers, the Nürburgring is "Hell" – for Charly, BMW and the team Schnitzer it has always been the racing heaven on earth. BMW Motorsport has won the legendary race at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife 19 times, most recently in 2010. The BMW M3 GT2 with the drivers Jörg Müller, Uwe Alzen, Augusto Farfus and Pedro Lamy was the first to cross the finish line. For the fifth time after 1989, 1991, 2004 and 2005, Schnitzer emerged from the 24-hour race in the Green Hell as the winner.

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side shot of the BMW M3


On 29th April 2012, a BMW M3 was in the starting line-up of the DTM again for the first time in 20 years – in front of 142,000 fans in the stands in Hockenheim. Five months later, at the end of a nerve-racking comeback season and in the same setting, the new triumph followed: Charly, Schnitzer, Bruno Spengler and BMW won every title up for grabs in the DTM. A motorsport fairy tale.

At the end of 2018, after more than 40 years of racing, Charly bowed out of the big stage. Humble, as he was, but with a final bang: In November 2018, he won the FIA GT World Cup in Macau with Augusto Farfus at the wheel of the BMW M6 GT3. And you would expect nothing less: Schnitzer become the record winner at the legendary Guia Circuit. It was Charly’s last race as team principal, and his last ever race.

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There are many stories about Charly Lamm. But he always tells the best ones himself – with a twinkle in his eye. A racing life in quotes.


Charly Lamm on …

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… his early days in motorsport

“When I was 14, I was given all the cleaning and polishing jobs in the team. In particular, preparing the magnesium racing rims was an incredibly tedious task. My schoolmates were playing football while I was in the garage. As a teenager you start to question that. But it was always short-lived.”

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… his motivation

“The drive to want to celebrate wins is always there and a key driving force. But I always tried to look at the bigger picture. Perhaps it is because I didn’t start learning as an engineer, rather I brought other strengths to the table. My language skills for translating at the track, my handling of numbers as a timekeeper or my organisational skills. It was only over the years that the engineering element and the responsibility were added.”

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… his first win

“1976 in the World Sportscar Championship with the BMW 3.5 CSL Coupé. Josef and Herbert were away with Formula 2 and the DRM, so for the first time I had sole responsibility for our race in Spielberg. Dieter Quester and Gunnar Nilsson got the win. It was an incredible experience. From then on I knew: You want to experience this feeling again and again.”

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... his relationship with the drivers

“Then there was how I dealt with the drivers. I have a reputation for attaching too much importance to them because I wanted to understand them better and get to know their specific needs in the cockpit and their mindset. I have stuck with this approach in the world of data analyses and simulations. As a team we prepare a car that has to be competitive. The driver is then the key factor for bringing home success.”

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… his best moments in motorsport


“There really are a lot of highlights. The win with the BMW V12 LMR in Le Mans, the victories with BMW at the iconic 24-hour races at the Nürburgring and in Spa-Francorchamps, as well as our DTM titles in 1989 and 2012. But undoubtedly my first trip to the touring car race in Macau was very special. I flew to Hong Kong in a cargo aircraft with the racing cars in 1980. And then we won the race with Hans-Joachim Stuck and the BMW 320 Gruppe 5. What a unique experience.”

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Charly Lamm was a legend in his lifetime. With his meticulousness and passion for racing, he won and shaped the hearts of many drivers, team members and officials. Companions describe just how much they miss Charly.

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“He shaped racing at BMW for decades, celebrated magnificent victories with his team, and fascinated fans around the world with his unique passion for racing. Losing him is a tragedy. Thank you for everything Charly. We will miss you always.”

Jens Marquardt, BMW Group Motorsport Director





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Charly Lamm and Augusto Farfus

“Thank you, Charly, for the emotions that we shared. Thank you for the championship and everything that I learned from you! I will really miss you.”

Bruno Spengler, BMW DTM driver




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BMW M8 GTE: Goodspeed, Charly

“A legend who left us far too soon and brought me to tears! Thank you, Charly, for being such a great person and team principal, and there’s no doubt that you made motorsport history. My grandfather, my father and I – three generations looked up to you and admired you, you shaped our motorsport era like no one else!”

Marco Wittmann, BMW DTM Champion of 2014 and 2016

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Charly Lamm and Jens Marquardt

“I lost a family member, a mentor, a friend. I am heartbroken. He was someone special because he was always there for me. He could read my expression and I could read his. I won the first race that I drove for him. And I won for Charly in his final race. Charly, I miss you.”

Augusto Farfus, BMW works driver


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Charly Lamm and Bruno Spengler

“I was really sad to learn of his death. Charly Lamm was a highly respected and talented team principal, who achieved an awful lot in motorsport.”

Jean Todt, President of the international automobile association, the FIA



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Charly Lamm and Marco Wittmann
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