BMW Motorsport has revealed that the No. 20 Team WRT’s M Hybrid V8 Hypercar will race at the 2024 Le Mans 24 Hours as the brand’s 20th ‘Art Car’.
The one-off livery for the No. 20, which will be driven by Sheldon van der Linde, Robin Frijns, and René Rast, is set to be revealed at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France on May 21st.
The new color scheme for the car is being designed by American artist Julie Mehretu, who is is working with BMW on a three-dimensional format for the first time.
“For the 20th BMW art car, Mehretu uses the color and form vocabulary of an existing large-format painting from a more recent series of works: obscured photographs, dotted grids, neon-coloured spray paint and Mehretu’s iconic gestural markings give her design an abstract visual form,” read a BMW statement.
“She transfers the resulting image motif as a high-resolution photograph onto the vehicle’s contours using a 3D mapping technique. This creates the unique artistic foiling with which the BMW M Hybrid V8 will compete in the Le Mans race.”
Per FIA regulations, the 3D version of the artwork can only be applied to the BMW M Hybrid V8 with a film wrap. For this, Mehretu is working closely with the German Race Spirit team led by Manuel Eberl and Gertraud Brenninger. Race Spirit was already involved in realizing the design created by Jeff Koons for the 17th BMW Art Car.
“It wasn’t until after going to the 24 Hours race in Daytona last year that the idea of how to approach the BMW Art Car really crystallized,” said Mehretu.
“I was thinking about Frank Stella’s grid and how this could also be a shout-out to former BMW Art Car artists. And I kept thinking of this painting in my studio that I had just finished and the model of the Art Car was in my studio and I thought maybe we can try to have the car move through this painting.
“The creative play of what you can do in this new three-dimensional space and how many imaginations and inventions are played out to build it is highly instructive. It is not just the car itself but the designers and their deliberations as well as and foremost the drivers and their desires and aspirations which make it become this place of dreams where painting, conceptual art, aerodynamics, speed and aesthetics can participate.”
This will be BMW’s first Art Car since the 2017 season, when a BMW M6 GTLM designed by John Baldessari raced at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, and a ‘virtual’ BMW M6 GT3 Art Car by Cao Fei competed at the FIA GT World Cup in Macau.
This announcement follows BMW Team WRT’s full driver squad reveal for the 2024 season last week. This year it will run multi-car, multi-class programs in both the FIA WEC and World Challenge Europe with the German brand.