Dr Mario Theissen
Dr Mario Theissen retires as BMW Motorsport director, officially, on the final day of June while Jens Marquardt formally assumes sole responsibility for BMW's racing projects the following day. Dr Theissen has been with BMW for 34 years and leaves behind great successes and challenges overcome.
"I have really enjoyed my years with BMW," he said. "I was fortunate enough to spend my entire working life with a fascinating company, which constantly provided me with challenging projects. For me, the motorsport project was the culmination of everything that had gone before--extremely tight deadlines, forward and backward steps in two-weekly cycles, triumph and disappointment--all this in the public eye."
More than 100 friends and associates from all phases of his career came to fete Dr Theissen at Munich's BMW Classic. During his 12-year tenure as BMW Motorsport Director, Dr Theissen had an immeasurable impact on people within and outside his domain, celebrating titles and victories in a variety of championships achieved by BMW teams and drivers.
Among those on-hand to wish him well were reigning Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel, drivers Nick Heidfeld, Alessandro Zanardi and the current BMW works drivers. Associates and competitors such as Peter Sauber, Franz Tost, Norbert Haug and Stefano Domenicali also celebrated his career.
"During this period I met many interesting people, some of whom have become very good friends," Dr Theissen mused. "I owe my colleagues a particular vote of thanks. Their untiring efforts ensured that BMW is a regular visitor to the podium and that the motorsport history of BMW has a few more chapters now."
Dr Theissen started his career in the new engine analysis department at BMW and devoted precisely half of his service with BMW to the development of production cars. The second half comprised five years in an innovative projects role, then 12 years in the motorsport division.
Young driver development has been a passion for Dr Theissen and, under his leadership BMW nurtured many of today's Formula 1 drivers, including Vettel. He has also been a loud proponent for "green" racing and, in particular the use of KERS. He was pleased to see the energy recovery concept return to Formula 1 in 2011 after a one-year hiatus.
Dr Theissen enjoyed his final 24 Heures du Mans this past month and watched as one of two BMW Motorsport M3 GT entries in the LM GTE Pro class earned third place in a very hard-fought race.
© 2011 Anne Proffit