By Dan Tackett
BMW CCA recently selected BMW of Escondido as the recipient of the 2019 Outstanding BMW Dealership award for the Pacific Region. This annual honor is the result of a nominating process and a decision by a national committee. We were very proud to present the award and surprise Tim Brecht during a Club event that BMW of Escondido hosted.
BMW of Escondido is the only remaining family-owned BMW dealership in San Diego County. One by one, the other four dealerships, which used to be family businesses, have been sold to corporate owners. The Brecht family has maintained their ownership and passion for our favorite marque through three generations. Patriarch Bill Brecht began his enthusiasm for the marque as General Manager for BMW of San Diego way back in the 2002 era, when they were the only local BMW dealership and had a small operation on Columbia St. downtown. When a 3.0 CS that Bill had personally sold new came onto the market 15 years later, he promptly bought it, and that classic coupe remains in the family to this day. He stayed with BMW of San Diego for 20 years, overseeing their move to the current location in Kearny Mesa. Following several years of effort, Bill earned a BMW dealership franchise of his own, opening Brecht BMW in 1985 at a former Cadillac dealership facility in downtown Escondido. The family’s big step was to build a new state-of-the art facility in the then-new Escondido Auto Park, which now houses their Mini of Escondido dealership.
Once their modern building was completed in 1988, Brecht BMW was able to fully reach its potential. Along with his wife Jeanelle and sons Tom and Tim, Bill Brecht began to establish a strong reputation for great customer service and genuine support for the BMW community. Bill was also involved in his Escondido community through serving in the Rotary Club and on the Board of the Escondido Chamber of Commerce—a spirit of volunteerism that continues with both of his sons today.
The Brecht family had a long history of building very fast turbocharged dune buggies and enjoying many weekends racing them in the desert. Wasting no time once in BMW circles, they transferred their racing passion to the track after buying two 2002 race cars. I remember Bill Brecht saying, “If it goes fast, burns gas and makes noise, I’m interested.” Their family weekends moved from the desert to various race tracks as Bill, Tom, and Tim all got their SCCA racing licenses. The first shakedown of the 2002s occurred at our Chapter’s inaugural 1989 Holtville Driving School, making their driving debut as we made our hosting debut. The family went on to campaign a pair of E36 325s and later a pair of E36 M3s in SCCA National races. The 2002s continued in VARA Vintage racing in parallel with competing in SCCA driving in more current BMWs: a turbocharged Z3, then a Z4, and a 328i sedan. Brecht Motorsports has evolved into the current era by competing in a Motorsport-built M235i Competition. Bill even created a track paddock runabout out of a Motorsport-liveried Isetta, which remains in the showroom at BMW of Escondido. The lure of the desert hasn’t been completely forgotten: Tim Brecht built and still kicks up the sand in a dune buggy with a twin-turbocharged M5 V10!
Brecht BMW was a strong supporter of the San Diego Chapter from the start. After our first few years of conducting High Performance Driving School events, Brecht BMW became our consistent track school sponsor. Not only have they provided helpful funding and raffle items, Tim Brecht often came to the track in his racing rig with one or more new BMW models (and sometimes a race car) to give track rides to participants and demonstrate the capabilities of the latest cars (and SAVs!) from BMW. That is genuine enthusiasm for the marque and the Club! When another dealership bowed out of sponsoring trophies and providing some auction items for our Clean Car Show and Charity Auction, Brecht BMW stepped up to fill the void and has continued ever since. When we had a Club Tour or other event that started in North County, they often offered to let us start from the dealership and provided food and beverages before we hit the road. Our relationship has flourished for over 30 years.
Bill Brecht succumbed in 2003 after a battle with cancer, a sad loss to the entire BMW community. His sons have maintained the enthusiasm that their father exuded, and despite a franchise-required name change to BMW of Escondido, the Brecht family still conducts their business as Bill would have. Going to extra lengths as a business, genuinely supporting the BMW community, and being a sincere friend of the San Diego Chapter are great reasons to honor them with the Outstanding BMW Dealership Award. And as a tribute to the memory of Bill Brecht and his fine example of volunteerism, our Chapter annually selects the “Bill Brecht Volunteer of the Year” award recipient to recognize the Chapter member who stands out for going above and beyond in their service to the Chapter. Congratulations to BMW of Escondido!