Bill Auberlen says that he will treasure the “great memories” of his record-equalling 60 IMSA wins after reaching the diamond milestone at Motul Petit Le Mans on Saturday.
The Turner Motorsport BMW driver matched five-time Rolex 24 at Daytona winner Scott Pruett’s haul in IMSA competition by winning the ten-hour enduro at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta with Robby Foley and Dillon Machavern.
Auberlen started out in IMSA competition 32 years ago, when he contested the 1987 IMSA GTU Championship in a Porsche 911 Carrera, and went on to win two titles under the North American sanctioning body.
This preceded a long stint with BMW, which included racing for the German manufacturer’s works GT Le Mans class team in recent seasons of the post-merger IMSA SportsCar Championship.
In Saturday’s race, Auberlen made a late pass on the Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Felipe Fraga to secure the victory in the final race of the WeatherTech Championship season.
“When you look back and you see how many neat wins there have been, and I look in my trophy case and I get to add this to it, all it is, is a bunch of great memories,” said Auberlen.
“All of them I will never forget, like when I team up with these guys and all the fun we have. All the joy it brings and the camaraderie, basically every single weekend you’re going to battle with these guys.
“They will die for you, and you will die for them. To be able to do that for BMW for 23 years has been such a great road, and I would never trade it for anything.
“To tie 60 wins with Scott Pruett is just great and gives you an idea of how great of a career BMW has allowed me to have, winning in these BMWs week in, week out.”
In the race, the Turner BMW started 10th on the 12-car GTD grid after an accident by Foley in qualifying but it quickly worked its way through the field in the opening half to be in contention at the end.
However, Auberlen admitted that the team thought it would need a late splash for fuel without the full course caution that saved multiple teams’ races in the final half-hour.
“In qualifying, we had a little technical issue that threw us out, so we had to start dead last,” he explained.
“Robby worked it up and Dillon worked us up the rest of the way. Then we ran most of the race from the front end the whole day.
“We had a little issue getting bumped off the track by the [Riley] Mercedes, so we had to change strategy. We were not going to make it to the end unless we had a yellow.
“We started this fuel-saving strategy – thinking were we going to make it – and then the yellow came so it was full power, full rich.
“We ran down and he [Fraga] had some issue on the last lap, so we passed him and it was a great day for all of us.”
Auberlen also praised the reliability of the BMW M6 GT3, on its fourth Petit appearance with the Turner squad, and his Michelin Endurance Cup co-drivers.
“You take this poor M6 GT3 car and you beat the heck out of it for 10 straight hours,” he said.
“You cannot believe how this thing has not fallen apart. It takes the abuse, it’s hitting the corners, sparking and flaming everywhere. And it keeps on running.
“It says, ‘you’ll break before I break’ and it just runs from the top. I’m just super happy.
“And [Foley and Machavern] have been perfect in every single race we do, and we’ve done Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and here. These two guys are flawless all the time. It’s been great.”