Bill Auberlen is IMSA's all-time winningest driver. (IMSA Photo)
Bill Auberlen is IMSA's all-time winningest driver. (IMSA Photo)

Bill Auberlen: IMSA’s All-Time Winner

It has been said records are meant to be broken. Many believed Scott Pruett’s record for IMSA victories was safe. That was until his closest rival Bill Auberlen went on a tear. 

Now, Auberlen is IMSA’s new sheriff, with 63 victories and still counting.

How did he get there?

Let’s look at some history to set the stage. 

“I raced in ISRS, a European prototype championship,” Auberlen explain­ed. “It was interesting because they were developing an engine to go to IRL (Indy Racing League). I was helping them develop that motor. If they went to the IRL, it would be a win-win for me. The motor didn’t quite work out, so we raced prototypes instead in the BMW LMR. 

“You couldn’t do better than that. It was an amazing car. They built that car in conjunction with Williams Formula 1. It was built for the sole purpose to win at Le Mans. It did go and win Le Mans. I drove it with Joachim Winkelhock,” Auberlen continued. “Then, I raced the LMR in America for two years. I’d still drive it today. It was amazing to have that kind of horsepower … those cars were designed to go 220-230 mph.” 

Auberlen has the dubious distinction of having flipped the car over backward at the dip at Georgia’s Road Atlanta. 

Auberlen later moved to GT racing, where he found his true home. 

“I’ve been under contact with BMW for going on 26 years. Can you imagine a career with one manufacturer for 26 years and competing at the top level? It’s amazing that we’ve had such success,” Auberlen said. “I was at Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan) for many years where I transitioned to GTD. I love it so much and I love being back with Turner. You get to race as hard as you want and as free as you want.” 

It was much different when he raced in the GTLM class with Rahal Letterman Lanigan. That’s because BMW in GLTLM had direct factory involvement with so many German engineers at each race. “You’d get reports of what you did wrong, and what you did wrong,” Auberlen said. 

It was an oppressive environment, lacking any positive vibes. 

The sun rose again when he returned to Turner Motorsports. 

“I just get to rip it. I love racing to the core. I live for it. I die for it,” Auberlen said. “When I transitioned to GTD; I love being with Will’s (Turner) group. We know how to win races in that car.”

His introduction to Will Turner was as inauspicious as it gets. 

“When you say we’ve been together for a long time, I have to go back to when I met him,” Turner said. “The first time was at Lime Rock in 2000. We brought three cars to the race, but only had drivers for two. IMSA was with us, we were racing the World Challenge. We were racing before the IMSA race. My crew chief said I should get Bill Auberlen, who was racing a BMW M3, in our spare car. I asked, ‘Why?’ My crew chief said, ‘He’s fast and he could help us with car setup.’

“This was when we were in the beginning of (professional) racing stuff. I went over to his trailer and introduced myself. I didn’t have any idea who he was,” Turner added. “‘Yeah,’ he said, ‘Show me your car. It’s like the car we race without the aero stuff.’ 

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