Meet the 200,000-Mile BMW M5 Camera Car Built to Chase Ferraris

High-speed action calls for high-speed equipment.

camera car bmw m5
YouTube | Praemio

It's not every day you come across a clean E39-generation BMW M5 with over 200,000 miles. Likewise, it's not often you find one that's been transformed into a supercar-chasing camera vehicle. This all-black 2002 M5, nicknamed the Bavarian Ranch Hand, is both and it's used to capture stellar rolling shots at upwards of 130 miles per hour.

The car's owner is self-taught filmmaker Jeremy Heslup, the director and executive producer of Valkyr Productions. The BMW came about as Heslup's clients started getting faster—too fast for his old SUV. Trying to keep up with a Ferrari 458 Italia can be a challenge, so he needed to find a new chase vehicle that could stay on-pace with a supercar, carry a camera crew, and be durable enough to do it all day. A used e39 M5 fit the bill perfectly.

The Bavarian Ranch Hand's rig is a custom setup using a three-axis dampening system Flowcine Black Arm, DJI Ronin 2 stabilization system using an ARRI Alexa Mini-cam, and modified speed rail that attaches to the car. During filming, Jeremy drives with two crew members controlling the arm and camera.

What Jeremy has built with the Bavarian Ranch Hand is independence; the freedom to continue working as an independent filmmaker without needing to inflate project budgets with $10,000-per-day Russian arm rentals using a Mercedes AMG or Ferrari chase-car attached underneath. The video below shows a brief history of how the Bavarian Ranch Hand was created.

Driving the BMW during a shoot means keeping pace around a track, being aware of the star vehicle, and dealing with the pressure of having two other people on board as the speedometer needle moves into triple-digit speeds. For training, Jeremy took stunt driving courses at the Motion Picture Driving Clinic taught by Rick Seaman, the same school that taught Vin Diesel how to drive for the Fast & Furious movies.

The M5 earned its keep when it came time to film the Czinger 21C Lightweight at Laguna Sega earlier this year. Czinger wanted to showcase the C21 running the track at high-speed. Now, we're talking about a hybrid supercar that uses a twin-turbo 2.9-liter V8 and three electric motors, sending 1,233 horsepower to all four wheels. It's a car that company CEO Kevin Czinger said is designed to "hunt for track records." Heslup's Bimmer was fit for the job, though, and it'll continue to do so with him behind the wheel.

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