1982 BMW 323i Baur

1982 BMW 323i Baur
Memorial Day 2010 First Drive 1982 323i BMW Baur Lapisblau M20 5 speed #4154 of 4595 made. The car was imported to California by Dietel Enterprises. I have since changed the wheels, installed the clear turn signal lenses, and I am in the process of installing a new cabriolet roof. I have to do something about those bumpers, too. :) I love this car! To see one of the reasons why, check my post "Score One For the Good Guys" on 6/26/2011.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Baurspotting at Lime Rock Park Historics Part VI: Success for The Quest! Sir Stirling Moss Autographs His Baur Car Test Review From 1979

(continued.... from Part IV:
N.B.  Part V was a brief digression from our main story line.----Ed.)

It was close to noon by this time, I think, and fellow Baur owner JMinNJ had just informed me that we were welcome to park our cars down on the track as part of the admission price.  I had mistakenly thought that presence on the track was restricted to those cars who were entered in the Concours d'Elegance.... which my daily driver Baur was clearly not qualified for!  Hell, I hadn't even vacuumed it out in months!  Thank you, John!

So, per JMinNJ's suggestion, I headed up to the parking lot to bring my car down to the track area.   As I passed through the midway vendor area, I noticed that there seemed to be a long line of people on my right, and they were all heading toward the RC cars tent.  Hmmm.  I wondered for a moment what is with the outsized attraction for the RC (radio control) Cars??

But at that moment, I didn't have the time to investigate that because I was intent on bringing my Baur down to the track.


The Baurspotting Baur can just be seen on the left of the pic at the edge of the track, near the huge 2002 group.

So within about 15 minutes or so, my car was now down trackside and I had returned to my little group of friends on the overlook.  On my return, my friend Carol immediately mentioned that she had just heard something over the public address system indicating that the autograph signing line for Stirling Moss may soon be capped.

Whoa!  I immediately head for the signing area and  ... guess where it turned out to be!  Remember that line I noted above at the RC Cars tent!  Day um!  I shoulda known!  That was no line for RC Cars... that was the Stirling Moss autograph line!!

I tried to join the line but .... there was no way. It was too late, the line had indeed been capped.   Event staff were already stationed at the end of the line with traffic cones, and a few more were stationed along the length of the line, turning away all of the late arrivals and ensuring no one else cut into the line.  Bummer!

Here is the line for autographs.  Sir Stirling Moss is inside the white tent in the background.

Now what???

I tried playing the journalist angle .... in vain.  No dice, the Event staff were not buying it.  Sir Moss was apparently quite tired out by the previous day's signings, and asked the Event staff to put a cap on it today.  The staff were polite, but firm, in letting me know that no amount of finagling, conniving, schmoozing, or bribing on my part would change that fact.
Growing desperate now, I asked them if it would be ok for me to go forward to at least take a few pics, and they said OK.  If my Quest was to have any faint hope of success, I needed, at the very least, to penetrate The Citadel!  I was determined to fulfill my Sacred Quest!

So I proceeded down the length of the line to the tent entrance, and sure enough, I could see Sir Stirling Moss inside, looking tan, fit and robust for an 81 year old guy, seated at a table, greeting fans and signing autographs.  The folks in line were loaded up with books, pictures, replica cars and assorted memorabilia awaiting his signature.  The atmosphere was certainly a happy one--- at least for those in line---- and you could see the smiles and feel the excitement and anticipation.

I wormed my way through the 'exit' gate of the tent, past several more Event staffers guarding both the entrance and exit, on the pretext of getting a close-up pic.  Once inside the tent, I realized that there were actually TWO guys signing autographs!  Seated at the table next to Sir Moss was another older man, whom I did not recognize, and who was clearly not in good health.  He had an oxygen feed to his nose, and appeared quite frail and elderly, especially compared to the vibrant Sir Moss.  Upon inquiring, I learned that he was John Fitch, a WWII hero and fellow race car driver from the same era as Moss.   He is 95 years old.  Amazing.

"Fitch attended Kentucky Military Institute, then studied civil engineering at Lehigh University. In 1941 he volunteered for the US Army Air Corps. His service took him to North Africa, where he flew the A-20 Havoc and then on to England. By 1944, Captain Fitch was a P-51 Mustang pilot with the 4th Fighter Group, 335th Fighter Squadron, and is credited with shooting down a Messerschmitt Me 262 jet. Two months before the end of the war, he was shot down himself while making an ill-advised third strafing pass on an Axis train and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war."

Check out that link... Fitch had an impressive racing career, and a long connection to Lime Rock Park, in addition to being an authentic War Hero!  Wow!

Here are some of the pics I took inside the confines of the tent, all the while plotting a way to fulfill my Quest!

As you can see, Sir Moss was signing a variety of items, and I learned that he was limiting signings to two items per person.  

Aha!  Knowledge is Power!  

Knowing this, I took a look around at the folks waiting in line.  They were mostly loaded down with various gear for his signature:  books, photos, posters, replica race cars, t-shirts, etc.  Everyone seemed to have their hands full.  Day um!  

I stayed within the tent for what seemed like an interminable time---- I was sure that at any moment some alert Event staffer would notice my extended presence, and I would be asked  to leave, since I had no business being there!  I just kept looking busy, snapping pictures, all the while searching the line for a potential savior!  

And then I spied them!  A nice young couple very near the head of the line.  The gentleman had a couple of items in hand, but the young lady with him seemed to be clutching only her purse!  I unobtrusively sidled up to them, and inquired if they both had two items for Sir Moss to sign.  The young woman, Alyson, stated 'no' she didn't' have two, but her companion did have two.  

(Here is my biggest, most egregious, and my most regrettable, mistake:  in my excitement, I failed to note her companion's name--- he told me but I didn't write it down, mea culpa--- nor their relationship.  I do not know if they are friends, a married couple, or what.  Day um!  Alyson, if you can send me this info I will make it right here.  You guys deserve more recognition.)

Ok, that being said.... back to the story!  I saw my opportunity here!  Putting on my best, non-creepy-stranger-approach, I politely asked Alyson if she would do me a HUGE favor:  would she bring my paper to Sir Moss for his signature?  I blurted out a quick synopsis of what that paper was and why I wanted it signed, and how I was unable to get a place in line myself because they capped it at 75.  By this time they were next in line!  I was prepared to drop to my knees if necessary at this point, because time was running out, the line was diminishing, and I was running out of options.

To my delight, she said "Sure!"  OMG.  It worked! I could hardly contain my excitement at her accession to my request!
Here is Sir Stirling Moss autographing my copy of his 1979 review of the BMW 323i Baur.

Sir Moss handing the signed car review back to Alyson (her hand is in the lower right of pic).  

(Incidentally, as Sir Moss handed the signed paper back to Alyson, I stepped forward to thank him and to tell him that this was a copy of a Car Test that he wrote about the BMW 323i Baur over thirty years ago.  Both Alyson and I heard his response: "I don't know if I'd stand behind it any more.")  
My sense was that he said this in a jocular fashion, as in...."Hey, don't hold me to what I may have said 30 years ago' kind of smiling disclaimer, as you can see in his demeanor in the pic above.  My observation of his interactions with the many autograph-seekers that day was that he was quite gracious and friendly, with a nice word for everyone.  He willingly and patiently posed for individual pictures with whoever might ask.  A very admirable and likable bloke, I must say.


Here you can see his autograph "Sir Moss" just below the Baurspotting logo near the right margin.  The signed article is a Review of the BMW 323i Baur by Stirling Moss himself (pre-Knighthood --- he was Knighted in March 2000) from Harper and Queen Magazine in 1979!  It was republished by Der Bayerische (the BMWCCA National Capital Chapter's periodic magazine) in their December 1979/January 1980 issue.  That is where I found it, by pure happenstance.

Here is a more legible version of the article, thanks to Adam S. (Twelvizm in E21 bimmerforums):

As soon as he signed it, I accompanied this happy couple out side the tent, both to thank them profusely, and to more fully explain my presence there, including a little bit about Baurspotting.  And to try to convey to them the enormity (at least to me) of what they had just so cheerfully accomplished.  I couldn't have done it without them, folks, and I remain in their debt.  Thank you both!  

Here they are:  Baurspotting Heroes!

And, incidentally, we had a good laugh together when I explained the story of the serendipitous circumstances that led to that climactic signing moment:  i.e., my accidental discovery of the 30 year old article about the car I feature in Baurspotting, written by Sir Moss;  then two days later my discovery that he is coming to Lime Rock;  then my late arrival to the autograph line .... all of which was on the verge of amounting to naught but failure of my Quest .... until their magical appearance before me!  They were very happy to have been a part of all this!  I do hope that they see this article.

Do you believe in Angels?   Well, I don't know if I do, but I was certainly rescued by these two Angels at Lime Rock Park on September 2, 2012!  Thank you both again!

While going through some other pictures of the Sunday In The Park event taken by sislane of 2002faq, I stumbled upon these two pics below:  Our Baurspotting Heroes/Angels again, were unknowingly captured by the photographer while touring the Porsche area of the show.  I do recall the gentleman saying something about being more of a Porsche guy than a BMW guy, incidentally.  

Thank you again to Alyson and friend!
See earlier post about our Baurspotting Heroes:

So..... the Quest for Sir Stirling Moss' autograph on the Stirling Moss review of the BMW 323i Baur from 1979 was a stunning success, with a little help from my friends!  

 The Baurspotting Archives now contain an authentic and significant historical artifact:  an original autograph of one of the greatest race drivers of all time on a 30 year car review that he himself wrote about a BMW 323i Baur; an autograph that was obtained on site at one of the most venerated and iconic racing venues in the USA:  Lime Rock Park.  

It's a Keeper!

For more about Sir Stirling Moss:

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