Joey Hand’s Driving Dream
Editor’s Note: American sports car racer Joey Hand is a full-time competitor in the German Touring Car series. The following is an excerpt from John Jeppeson’s profile on Hand that was published in the October issue of SPEED SPORT Magazine.
The dream for Joey Hand began in 2011, the first time he set eyes on a photo of BMW’s new German Touring Car (DTM) M3. It was scheduled to hit the track in 2012, marking BMW’s return to the DTM after an 11-year hiatus.
Hand’s 2011 racing season was the prelude to the dream. His on-track performance “blew the lid off the dump” as David Letterman is fond of saying. He won the Rolex 24 At Daytona with Chip Ganassi Racing and the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring a month later at the wheel of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing M3. The winning continued with RLL and ended with the ALMS driver’s championship for Hand and Dirk Müller.
“Joey was our go-to guy in the ALMS,” said Bobby Rahal. “He drove the last three hours at Sebring for the win. Anybody that has ever raced there knows how hard that is. We hated to lose him to DTM.”
Hand approached BMW Motorsport boss Dr. Mario Theissen for the DTM ride during the 2011 season. “Dr. T” was retiring but said: “You never know, Joey, you never know.”
Hand reiterated his pitch to Jens Marquardt, the new boss, during the ALMS finale at Road Atlanta. Marquardt thought a test was possible but not until the middle of the 2012 season. Undaunted, Hand replied: “Why not sooner? You need an American in DTM.”
Hand’s persistence is reminiscent of Carl Edwards’ pursuit of Jack Roush. Failure was not an option for either driver. Hand’s bold approach was the tipping point for the BMW brass.
“Two weeks later I got the call,” Hand said. “Could I get to Monteblanco in Spain and I said ‘I’m there.’” After jumping on a flight to Spain that week, he immediately impressed the team and got invited back to test the latest spec car — so it was done and done.