DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – When Bruno Spengler was a small child, it was clear that he wanted to race.
Recently, IMSA fans have witnessed the Canadian’s move to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with BMW Team RLL. He’s already scored podiums in both the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts in five starts.
Even more recently, Spengler has proven a knack for iRacing. The BMW factory driver has won a pair of IMSA iRacing Pro Series races so far.
However, his love of racing began when he was five years old while he sat in the seat of his parents’ car, begging them to go faster. It was then that they knew he wanted to be behind the wheel of a race car.
“I was always traveling in the car with my parents, telling my dad to drive faster and overtake all the cars I could see,” said the 36-year-old from his home in France. “I was already a big fan of speed at a very young age.”
Starting at the age of 10, Spengler began working his way up the karting ranks – winning a French championship in 2000 at the age of 17 – before shifting his attention to single-seat race cars. After winning the 2002 Fran-Am championship in North America, he returned to Europe to race Formula 3 as a Mercedes-Benz Junior driver.
However, before the 2003 F3 season, Spengler crashed in a fast corner on the French Dijon-Prenoit Circuit in a preseason test. He broke his back and was sidelined for the next three months.
“It was a tough time for me,” said Spengler. “I was pretty lucky, actually. I could’ve lost the function of my legs, but I was lucky for that not to happen.
“I learned a lot through it, and my motivation was to come back as quick as possible.”
He returned successfully, earning podiums as well as a test in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) German touring car series. He began competing in the highly competitive DTM championship in 2005 and won the series championship in 2012.
He remained in DTM through 2019 before making the move to the WeatherTech Championship in 2020 with BMW. While this is his first year as a full-time competitor in the WeatherTech Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, Spengler made his first appearance in the series in the 2015 Rolex 24 At Daytona. He scored a second-place class result in his debut race with BMW Team RLL.
“That’s where my endurance experience began,” said Spengler, who is sharing the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE with Connor De Philippi in 2020. “Before that, I had zero endurance experience. I think that’s why I love Daytona so much because that’s where my little endurance racing experience started.”
Spengler’s recent success isn’t limited to the IMSA iRacing Pro Series. He also has been competing in other eSports events such as the recent 24 Hours of Nurburgring on iRacing, where he finished third on the overall podium.
Yet, despite his virtual prowess, he yearns for the return of real-life racing.
“I get a lot of good comments of people watching (iRacing),” said Spengler. “They like the show. Of course, when you think as a fan that comes to see the races, you miss the atmosphere. I miss seeing the people. I miss the whole atmosphere of the fans cheering for us and being there with us.”