Posted Jan 22nd 2013 2:15PM
Making history is no simple task, but Canadian driver and reigning DTM Champion Bruno Spengler sure made it look easy. After a nearly 20 year hiatus, BMW Motorsport made a triumphant return to DTM in 2012 with Spengler clinching the DTM title behind the wheel of his BMW M3 DTM after years of steady improvement.
It didn't take long for the 29-year-old Quebecer nicknamed 'The Secret Canadian' to make his mark on the racing world, as Spengler recently won the drivers' title and helped Team Schnitzer to the teams' championship as well as the manufacturers' championship for BMW. BMW Canada brought the hometown hero and his trusty DTM steed to the 2013 Montreal Auto Show to show off one of our racing talents.
After closely following his strong season last year, we finally found a chance to chat with BMW's dedicated champion and get to know Spengler from an Autoblog Canada perspective.
Click here to read our full interview with DTM Champion Bruno Spengler.
Related GalleryBruno Spengler - Autoblog Canada Interview: Montreal 2013
AB: Tell us who Bruno Spengler is for those that don't know.
BS: I am a 29-year-old racing in DTM for BMW. I won the Championship in 2012 and I've been second and 3rd before. I was part of a triumphant return for BMW after 20 years absence in DTP. I'm thrilled to be part of the best series in the world, with 150,000 people cheering us on and part of a high level of professionalism. The series is perfectly suited for me, very tough and evenly matched which pushes me harder.
AB: When did your fascination with cars start?
BS: I'd say from four or five years old I was always crazy about cars. I knew all kinds of cars sitting in the back of the family car always telling my Dad to push harder to overtake people on the left... and right! (laughs)
AB: Was moving to Canada at a young age an influence on your career? Or would it have been the same had you stayed in France?
BS: I never thought about that. I was born in Europe, but my whole life has been here from the age of three. I am Canadian. All my friends are here, I am extremely proud to be the first Canadian to win DTM to carry our colours high. I love racing in Europe, sure Europe would have been easier to be a racer there... but the challenge pushed me to succeed here.
AB: What are some of the highlights of your career along the way to get to this point?
BS: Well, it's not really a highlight, but my first big crash was in 2003 racing Formula 3. I broke a vertebrae and couldn't race for 3 months. I had great support and came back and it was very hard to do so. I came back stronger and mentally and physically. But 2012 was definitely the most highlight filled year in my career, so it is the new benchmark.
AB: What racing schools or teachers helped to form your style?
BS: I raced go-carts seven years, Formula Renault two years and won the NA championship. I did Formula 3 and then started DTM in 2005 all of which taught me something. My old teammate Robert Kubica in 2004 was amazing and we pushed each other hard. I have the most respect for Ralph Schenider who won DTM title five times, so I respect him and learn from him. I feel that Mika Hakkinen and Jean Alesi have influenced my style the most.
AB: Being a fairly young racer, do you use racing Sims and do they work?
BS: We don't have DTM simulators at all. However, I do train in the off season on Formula One games, Touring cars games but nothing too hardcore. I play lots of outdoor sports like tennis, cross country skiing, rowing and more to keep my mind and body sharp.
AB: What about life after DTM?
BS: At the moment haven't thought about that transition. I'm open to anything, but I feel at home here since we're well supported and BMW is really great to work with. I just love the technology we get to work with. At the present time, I am very focused on the here and now.
AB: Tell us what you drive?
BS: Well, I drive go-carts a lot! (laughs) But on the street, I am currently driving a BMW X6 and will soon get my BMW M3 Championship Edition in March, I believe mine is #7 of the production run... it's a very special car.
AB: Price is no object what would you drive? Are you excited about BMW M1 concept?
BS: BMW of course has a lot of great products, sport sedans, big coupes, SUVs and yes very excited about the M1. I definitely would like to own one of those M1 concepts. Not sure if it will happen though... but hey, I can dream right?
AB: Any other racers you admire?
BS: Yes, there are a few. Michael Schumacher gave the world such amazing performances for so many years and still does today. Unfortunately, Gilles Villenueve died a year before I was born... but he was also one of the drivers I still admire most. He was so committed all the time. His engagement and commitment is something I'd like to adopt, and I would have really liked to meet him.
AB: Any tips to those looking to get into a racing seat?
BS: Remember, there are no set rules to get you there. Get your schooling, make connections, get seat time and work hard. You can find the best path, never give up and push hard... Always!
AB: Can you give us one tip to make us weekend warriors faster at track days?
BS: Braking is everything! Braking is an art that needs to be worked on. Anyone can step on the gas, but using the brakes to your advantage, car control and for just enough to maintain momentum is key.
AB: Anything else you would like to add for our readers?
BS: Thanks to all the race fans in Canada who follow me. DTM is a very exciting series and I do this to proudly represent Canada. I am happy to put BMW and Canada on the map this year and plan to do so for the years ahead. Thanks for the support everyone.
Interview by: Dave Pankew