On Sunday, April 29, BMW will return to the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) series for the first time since the 1994 season. Granted, that absence includes the three-year-period from 1997 through 1999 when the DTM series was on hiatus, but that doesn’t make Sunday’s race at Hockenheim any less significant to the BMW faithful.

Three factory-backed teams will campaign the BMW M3 DTM this season, including BMW Team RMG (which includes American driver Joey Hand), BMW Team Schnitzer and BMW Team RBM. The M3s will face competition from the Audi A5 DTM and the DTM AMG Mercedes C-Coupe, both of which are also new for the 2012 season.

This season’s ten race schedule includes stops at Brands Hatch in England, the Red Bull Ring in Austria, Zandvoort in the Netherlands and Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Spain. In 2013, the DTM series will come to North America as well, as part of NASCAR’s Grand-Am road racing series.

Longer term, rule changes to ensure commonality between the DTM, Grand Am and Japanese GT300 series will result in a single, unified road racing series, set to debut in 2015. Frankly, we can’t wait.