This Pro-Am BMW team has won too much. Now it’s battling IMSA’s best

By | March 26, 2024

The Pro-Am BMW team that won too muchillustration by Tim Marrs / Photos courtesy of IMSA

IMSA’s GTD Pro class exists for the manufacturers. It’s for the Corvettes, the Mustangs, the Ferraris and the Aston Martins, all run by factory-backed brand partners with factory driver lineups. BMW’s newest GTD Pro representative is a little different, and that team’s quest to compete against IMSA’s best was one of the most unique stories on the entire 58-car grid at Sebring.

Since 2011, Paul Miller Racing has participated as a privateer in IMSA and the GT classes of its predecessor. The team drove Porsches, Audis and Lamborghinis before moving on to BMWs, winning a handful of endurance races and one title in the GTD class before switching to a BMW M4 GT3 for the second round of the 2022 season. Since then, the team has been on fire: seven wins in 22 GTD races, including a sprint race trophy in 2022 and a title in 2023.

1 Paul Miller Racing, BMW M4 GT3, GTD Pro Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow, Neil Verhagen1 Paul Miller Racing, BMW M4 GT3, GTD Pro Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow, Neil Verhagen

Jake Galstad

For the past nine years, Paul Miller Racing has essentially been Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow. Sellers has been racing sports cars since 2005, driving a Panoz, an E46 BMW M3 and the only race car in the American Le Mans Series to ever run on Falken tires, before landing in a Miller Lamborghini. Since 2016, he has driven all but one season alongside Snow, a driver who entered the top sports car category at the age of 17 and has now been the team’s ‘silver’ driver for most of his career.

In one season the couple broke up. The GTD class that the Paul Miller team has raced for most of its existence requires teams to enter at least one driver who IMSA and the FIA’s secretive licensing system considers an amateur. Snow has served this purpose for most of his career, but IMSA dropped him from the crucial “silver” classification, allowing the team to compete in GTD ahead of the 2019 season. The team did not have a car eligible for the then all-pro GTLM class in 2019, so the program continued without Snow. Sellers and his new co-driver finished a disappointing 10th in class. IMSA eventually accepted the FIA’s classification and Snow returned in 2020.

1 Paul Miller Racing, BMW M4 GT3, GTD Pro Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow, Neil Verhagen1 Paul Miller Racing, BMW M4 GT3, GTD Pro Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow, Neil Verhagen

Jake Galstad

That has now changed again. Snow and Sellers convincingly won the 2023 GTD Championship, leaving Snow’s chances of retaining the silver title slim. Following the conventional logic of an IMSA team, that gave PMR a choice: either it could continue in the privateer-oriented GTD class with a new silver-rated driver, or it could move up to the factory-oriented GTD Pro, where a team typically leaves its in-house talent for factory-supported driver traps, supplied by their partner manufacturer. The team opted for neither choice, instead switching to GTD Pro and retaining the core of Sellers and Snow.

As Snow tells Road and rail, the option to switch to GTD Pro without adding factory drivers solves his problem with the driver rating system.

“Right now it doesn’t matter to me because I can ride with the person I want to ride with, and that’s Bryan,” Snow said. R&T. “Before this it was a bit annoying because I wanted to ride with Bryan, but I couldn’t because we both had gold.”

1 Paul Miller Racing, BMW M4 GT3, GTD Pro Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow, Neil Verhagen1 Paul Miller Racing, BMW M4 GT3, GTD Pro Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow, Neil Verhagen

Jake Galstad

Despite the choice to stick with continuity over new hires, Paul Miller Racing does have a factory driver: Snow has signed a contract with BMW, making him a manufacturer-affiliated top prospect without ever having to leave his home team. Sellers, who has raced various sports cars since 2005 in the two series that merged into the modern IMSA, has never been a factory driver. That means he understands the gravity of what Snow has accomplished better than most.

“I can tell you that, for everyone here, [Snow’s promotion] is one of the most rewarding things any of us have ever encountered in racing,” said Sellers.

“For me especially, there’s a certain amount of pride in the whole situation, and you keep hearing all the time like, ‘oh, you did such a good job with Madison, you did such a good job with Madison.’ The reality is that I haven’t done anything with Madison other than drive him, but what I have seen is watch him grow and evolve as a driver, and work hard at his craft, and really turn himself into one of the most well-rounded. drivers I’ve ever driven with. To see that, he’s like my little brother… To see someone get that close to you and see that, it was special.”

1 Paul Miller Racing, BMW M4 GT3, GTD Pro Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow, Neil Verhagen1 Paul Miller Racing, BMW M4 GT3, GTD Pro Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow, Neil Verhagen

Jake Galstad

Now Sellers and Snow come together to compete against the best GT field in this half of the world. Paul Miller Racing’s M4 GT3 is the only BMW in the class. It battles two new factory-backed Corvette Z06.Rs built and run by longtime Corvette Racing factory partner Pratt Miller, two new factory-backed Mustangs built and run by Porsche 963 chassis partner Multimatic, and an Aston Martin from the same Heart or Racing program that plans to bring the Valkyrie to Le Mans next year. Paul Miller Races does all that with the same drivers and resources it brought to the pro-am GTD class last year. As Sellers notes, that level of competition means the team has to do more than last year’s top season.

“The only thing we know for sure is that what we did last year is not going to be good enough. The difficult thing about what we’re stepping into now is that you’re definitely underutilized, you already have fewer tools than anything anyone could can do.” otherwise yes. Lexus has a simulator, drivers spend time in the simulator every week before the race. Corvette has a simulator, Ford has a simulator, Heart of Racing built a simulator. Now you’ve named four or five of your biggest competitors who have a tool that you don’t have. Based on things like that alone, we need to find more in ourselves. Otherwise we are already behind.”

That progress is how this is all supposed to work. Paul Miller, Madison Snow and Bryan Sellers have been doing this at a high level for a long time, so the trio takes it up a level and goes for everything. Sellers think this is a process that others can repeat:

“I would say hopefully, hopefully what this does is kind of a ladder in place to show that this is the goal. It’s the goal to start here, go here and go beyond. I hope IMSA and others embrace it.”

1 Paul Miller Racing, BMW M4 GT3, GTD Pro Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow, Neil Verhagen1 Paul Miller Racing, BMW M4 GT3, GTD Pro Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow, Neil Verhagen

Jake Galstad

Paul Miller Racing has finished third and fourth in the first two IMSA GTD Pro races. That’s good enough for second place in the twelve-car championship. Secondly, there is a triumph, but not the triumph that PMR is looking for this year. Everyone involved in the program wants to win in GTD Pro, to win against the best that American GT racing has to offer. Sellers are patiently waiting for that day, and he already knows what he’s looking forward to when that day comes:

“I think we are all in this for each other here. For me, one of the best things about winning a race and being the closing guy is when you’re done and the weekend is over and you get to see the pictures from the race. boys on the wall with their hands up. It’s the most beautiful moment. It’s bigger than the trophy. It’s bigger than the stage. It’s bigger than crossing the start-finish line. That’s what I love.’

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