BMW powertrain engineers are giving a shout-out to Paul Rosche, the engineer who literally defined engine development at the German automaker for almost four decades and is considered the father of the Formula 1 turbo engine that swept Nelson Piquet to the world championship in 1983. He turns 80 years old today.
Now retired for some 15 years, Rosche also developed the 2.0-liter, 16-valve engine that recorded more than 150 victories on Formula 2 circuit. Plus, he designed the 6.0-liter V12 that won Le Mans in 1995 and 1999.
Rosche joined BMW in 1957, and one of his first jobs was calculating camshaft profiles for race engines. This specialization gave rise to his nickname, “Nocken-Paul,” or Camshaft Paul. Rosche’s engineering was leveraged in BMW’s road cars, as well, including the 2-liter in the 2002 model that won the ’69 European Touring Car championship. Many of the 6-cylinder engines in the BMW 3-Series also bore his signature.
The Formula 1 engine was an engineering gem. Only 1.5-liters and four cylinders, it boasted the first digital electronics engine controls in F1 and put out around 800 horsepower initially. By the time Rosche’s team finished developing the turbo engine, it was making more than an estimated 1,400 horsepower.
“We don’t know for sure,” he said at the time. “The dyno didn’t go beyond 1,280!”