Had the new decals delivered and put on in time for the 2009 E30 picnic!
- E30 Picnic and New Decals 07 Jun 2009
- May 2-3 IRDC Race Day 03 May 2009
- BimmerWorld Signs On As Sponsor 02 Apr 2009
- March 30 – ProFormance Lapping 30 Mar 2009
- March 6-7 IRDC Race School 07 Mar 2009
- 2 Years and 8 Months Later .... 01 Mar 2009
- HANS Device 14 Jan 2009
- More Goodies 12 Jan 2009
- Some Bling To Go With My Seat 06 Jan 2009
- 2008 Year End Update 05 Jan 2009
- Picked up a Sparco Seat 23 Dec 2008
- Strut Tower Modifications 19 Nov 2008
- Video Of Rebuilt Engine 08 Nov 2008
- It's Alive! 04 Nov 2008
- Electrical Mania 02 Nov 2008
- The Engine Is In! 05 Oct 2008
- Getting Ready For New Engine 02 Sep 2008
- The Engine is Out! 06 Apr 2008
- March Madness 25 Mar 2008
- Year End Update 05 Jan 2008
- Looks Like Christmas Came Early This Year 30 Oct 2007
- A Huff and a Puff … 15 Oct 2007
- Was ist das? Neue Räder und Gummireifen? 10 Oct 2007
- Stripping the Beast - Part Deux 07 Oct 2007
- Garage Space! 03 Oct 2007
- First of Many Parts Roll In 02 Oct 2007
- Stripping the Beast - Part I 13 Aug 2007
- New Bling 14 Jul 2007
- Results from Strictly … 05 Jul 2007
- Look Ma! Its an E30 325i! 19 Jun 2007
- The Dilemma 18 Jun 2007
- The First Post 09 Jun 2007
Race day! Need I say more?
following images were provided by Curtis Creager of Creager Images
I am excited to announce that BimmerWorld has decided to step onboard as a sponsor for my racing efforts for 2009. Many thanks to James Clay (CEO) who made this possible.
BimmerWorld is a racer-owned, racer-staffed BMW performance center, providing technical expertise and race proven products to make anyone's racing program a front-runner. Staff expertise ranges from street upgrades to full professional racing and covers BMW platforms from 1984 through new models.
The 3.5 hours of driving time that you get at the ProFormance lapping days are a great opportunity to review your past material and push yourself slowly and steadily. I was still on stock tires and brake pads as I didn't have the budget to upgrade these critical parts but plans are in progress.
I started with reviewing the lessons I learned from the race school and found that I was consistently on line. My instructor wanted me to focus more on being smooth and linking the throttle, brakes, and steering so that they add up to 100%. On a more personal side, I also focused on being smooth with the shifting and found that I had definitely improved quite a bit from the last session.
As the day progressed and I gained more speed through the corners, and unfortunately ran into a little incident at T5a. As I was letting go off the clutch while adding throttle and steering, I realized that the clutch hadn't fully engaged yet. I felt the chirp in the rear and braced myself for trouble. Looking straight far ahead, I keep the throttle down while the car tank slapped around a bit. Unfortunately, the turn in the road combined with my proximity to the edge to start with led me into the gravel where jumped on the clutch and the brake before hitting the tire wall. I was lucky and managed to get out with just a dent in the rear quarter pannel (which I bent back into shape by kicking from the inside). It may have been a lot worse if I hadn't started taking evasive action right when I felt the glitch.
After taking a break and calming myself down, I was out on track again to see what I had done wrong and how to fix it. Folks were saying that it may have been because of the tires but since I was stuck with them, I changed my brake and shift zone to be a bit littler earlier than before for T5a and that seemed to do the trick. 2 more hours of practice later, it was time to quit and recall the days events to plan for the next event. Despite the little incident, I learned a lot from the process and looking forward to the lapping session next month.
Wow, what an amazing weekend! The ground school on Friday evening covered the basics and we reviewed the safety information as well as the flags. Then I drove back up to Seattle only to get 6 hours of sleep before heading right back to Pacific Raceways early next morning.
It was overcast so I wasn't sure how adventurous we would be getting but putting that aside, we headed out for a track walk led by the Hill brothers. Lot of useful dos and donts but the one thing that stuck in my mind was how steep it was from T2 to T3a and T3b. The videos online don't reveal the real horror awaiting you when you see it in person. But don't worry, when you are in your car it goes by so fast, your fear of heights is replaced by fear of fading brakes.
With street tires and stock Mintex brake pads, it wasn't long before I was pushing the car beyond its limits. Though glad that these were the only problems that surfaced as this was the first time ever the Red Beast made an appearance at a track. Luckily, there were several items on the agenda that I could practice at slower speeds as coincidentally this was also my first time on track with a manual car. I was put in Group 2 and we ran about 4 sessions of which the first one was in rain, second one in light snow, and sessions 3 and 4 under a beautiful sunny sky. The changes in weather along with a great instructor, taught me a lot of valuable lessons and I used every opportunity I got to improve myself. Result: my speed steadily increased approaching T2 from session to session and being lapped by fewer and fewer cars and starting to lap others.
No one should be in race car without a HANS device and if you do some basic research you find out pretty quickly why its such a good idea. So I went ahead and ordered mine esp. b/c my 2" inch shoulder harness requires the HANS to be present.
After a month and half worth of delays, UPS finally delivered the Sparco 383 Steering Wheel, Sparco Hub Adapter and the NRG Thin Quick Release to my door! Installation was easy once I figured out how the quick release adapter worked. This one is a bit different than the normal non-slim versions in that the lock stays in place on the steering column instead of coming apart with the steering wheel. Not bad though, it saves over 1.5 inches compared to its fatter siblings.
The seat was looking rather dull sitting in my living room by itself so I decided to go buy a 6 point Sparco Harness (HANS) for it. They are both now living in holy matrimony..
For the past couple months I (along with help from my brother over Christmas) have been busy getting the car finished up and I am glad to say I am getting very very close. All engine, suspension, and brake work is now complete. The car has trouble getting the auxillary fan to come on when the coolant temperature is past its ideal operating temperature. After several bleeding attempts and circuit checks, I have decided to wire in a manual fan switch for the time being and will retry diagnosing the system again at a later time. Apart from that, everything else was smooth sailing. All that is left now is scraping the rest of the mats from the interior, removing the sunroof tray, and re-connecting the dashboard and off to TC Motorsports for the roll cage installation.
In order to take full advantage of the Ground Control camber plates in the E30 series, you need to cut parts of the strut tower. Though it was a bit nerve wrecking at first to think about, the task was very easy to accomplish with the Dremel tools. As far as the paint goes, I chose to cover a thin strip around the cut with matching paint. This makes it look as if the paint job was done for the reason of modifying the strut tower. I have no intention of making it look as if that’s how it came stock. It’s a race car after all :) Thanks to Zach and Mike who helped me out on this. Here are some photos from the op:
On the way back from the garage to the house, I have been trying to come up with words to express my excitement…but have consistenly failed to capture what I feel right now. It’s seriously has to be the best damn feeling in the whole world!
It’s November and I am in Seattle, so needless to say its raining. Despite a crappy day at work, I decide to put my work sweatshirt on and force myself to drive over to the garage. The goal: hook up the remaining wires under the dash and fire up the engine. But as you can imagine there’s a long list of things to do and things to check for that I have been reminiscing over the past few days. And to add to that the constant fear of what if something goes horribly wrong and blows up…
On the way I stop at a gas station to pickup 7 quarts of engine oil (accounting for oil leaks) and a gas canister. I invited a buddy of mine over to help me watch the engine area and be ready with a fire extinguisher in case something happens. But he gets volunteered into pouring oil down the spark plug holes to lubricate the cylinders for the first run while I am busy hooking up the wires to the ECU, VDO, instrument pannel and double checking and triple checking everything. Once that is complete, we walk over to gas station around the corner to get 2 gallons of 92 octane gas … yeah this engine doesn’t need it but the gas has been sitting in the tank unused for over an year! And while we were there, we also grabbed some coolant. After filling up the fluids, I head to the driver’s side but…crap! I don’t have the car keys….grr….okay time to make a trip back home to pick up the car keys.
20 minutes of testing Audi’s all wheel drive system later (and it is goooood)…with keys in hand we enter the garage with my heart pounding knowing that I am getting closer to the moment when I have nothing left to do but turn the key. On the trip to my house and back I instructed Mikey about what parts of the engine to focus on and what trouble spots to look for. He picked up things pretty quickly which definitely reduced my stress levels a bit. I get in the driver’s side of the car and put the key in….crap! Steering lock is engaged…grr! Out come the picks and we try to unlock the ignition but to no avail. We try everything till about five minutes in Mr. Mikie suggests … “Dude do you have the right key?” $*#! … I had forgotten that when I bought the car, the previous owner had changed the ignition lock so the key that works on all the other locks doesn’t work in the ignition. Mikie heads back to his position ready with the fire extinguisher while I re-run all the wires and all the hose connections through my head just to check I didn’t miss anything.
Before I knew what I was doing, my fingers were already wrapped around the key and turning it … Chuga-chuga-chuga-chuga-chuga-… Hmm the battery probably needs to be charged…well so far so good; nothing earth shattering. I ran to my daily driver…backed it in, and hooked up the jumper cables. After a few minutes of listening to radio to calm our nerves down we go back to our positions and give it another whirl.
Somewhere between the key being pressed to the start position, Mikey standing in front ready with the fire extinguisher, cold sweat running down my back and the sweet sounds of a new engine trying to start up for the first time…I realized I was in heaven. The cold and drizzling weather didn’t matter, my ex didn’t matter, my job didn’t matter, but what mattered the most was my baby in front of me. Sure enough, like clockwork, after a few more revolutions, the loud unmuffled sound of a new engine coming to life pierced through my ears. White burnt oil smoke was everywhere but neither one of us moved. I think we were lost in the excitement…too busy trying to comprehend what just happened. Big smiles followed by high-fives. My baby was alive!
Total run time: 10-15 seconds, too loud and the next door neighbors were sleeping. Good excuse to get video gear next time around and record the whole thing again :)
I have the flu and to keep my mind from going nuts I decided to spend quality time in the garage over the past 2 days. After hours of slow but steady work the engine harness is in and most of the things are now hooked up in the hood. Need to get the oil coolor connected and all the wires under the dash. Many thanks to Wes Hill and Steve Schafer for letting me bug them about random things and take reference pictures of their setup. Thanks guys, it definitely made things a lot easier. Here are some pictures again, I specially like the before and after shots of the hood :)
After weeks of procrastination, we finally got back together to get the new engine and the transmission back in the car. A total of 5 hours and several minor incidents later we finally managed to secure the last of the sub-frame bolts before calling it quits for the night.
A quick update on the state of affairs. Transmission was cleaned and all the seals were replaced, so hopefully no more leaks. Also added a high pressure fuel hose to the vent tube to catch any overflowing fluid when the transmission gets hot. This should help alleviate the mess around the transmission body or dropping fluid on track. The engine has been re-fitted with all its gadgets and awaiting clutch alignment tool before the new clutch and pressure plate gets put on. And as a last step, I went ahead and cleaned the hood area of years of oil and grime! Parts from Pelican Parts will be here shortly and then on to putting the shiny engine in its new body.
After several weeks…wait…months, the engine and the transmission have finally been hoisted out of the car! Much thanks to my friend Matt for helping me with this (and countless other times) over the weekend. We got it done in under 5 hours and that’s pretty good given that we were completely new to this…
As March rolls on by, I decided to put back the parts on my engine and get it ready for replacement with the engine thats already in the car. In the next few weekends when my buddies can help me out, I will get the engine swapped in and the transmission seals replaced. Then onto suspension, the differential and lastly the brakes and tires.
With much excitement I stopped by TC Motorsports this morning to pick up my suspension and steering upgrades. The sight of the new Koni coilover racing suspension (assembled by TrueChoice) along with the sway bars and strut/shock tower braces left a grin that spanned the width of my face. It’s hard to believe that even as adults, you sometimes get to go back down memory lane and experience once again what it is like to be a kid on Christmas morning. Thanks to Carlo at TC Motorsports for “hooking” me up.
… and here I have a M20 B25 motor from a ‘88 325is! Found it off the all-amazing craigslist and the seller was nice enough to drop it off at my garage. Till all the suspension and body work is taken care of, I will be slowly taking care of the all maintenance upgrades on this baby… as always here are a few pictures to drool on:
Here’s a quick test for the bavarian fan and you are correct if you read it “What is that? New wheels and tires?” Came back home this evening only to be delightfully welcomed by the smell of fresh new rubber! Yuuuuummmm…
You are looking at a set of four Silver Enkei RPF-1 racing wheels wrapped with Falken/Ziex ZE 912 tires balanced and mounted for free by Edge Racing. They were also nice and went ahead and included all the necessary wheel studs and hub rings for free as well!
Work continued this past week on stripping the rest of the interior of the car. Started with the sound defeaning pads in the trunk most of which I managed to freeze with the help of dry ice and then took a hammer to it for a clean and effective removal strategy. Unfortunately, this approach didn’t work as well as I would have liked it to for the interior pads. So I bought myself a heat gun as suggested by some of the fellow racers and went at it. Several minutes of gluey nirvana later I decided to stop the process and continue it later in an open aired environment. Mike you were right about the buzz.
Unwilling to call it quits so soon, I diverted my focus on fun things such as removing the steering wheel and dash so that I could get to the rat’s nest (wiring harness) below. I am quite sick and tired of unwanted components and wanted to start working on removing them from the car. Among the first things to get ripped out was the Viper alarm system which was no longer operational since the last stripping effort. This also forced me to learn how to solder when I realized that the alarm system had its wires deeply entangled with the OEM harness. The unwanted A/C tubes were next in line to be removed. As Sunday evening approached I decided to finally call it a quit and promised to start again early next week with a clean up of around the heater core and removing the A/C subsystem from the car. If time permits I will start digging into identifying and removing unwanted wires from the several harnesses inside the car.
I am a city slicker who wants to go racing…go figure! Living in apartments is not the ideal lifestyle for a wanna-be racer, esp. if you don’t have a garage. And to make matters worse, they are pretty hard to come by around here (Seattle). Well let me clarify: the ones with electricity and the landlord allowing you to work on your car kinda garage. Anyhoo, after months of searching craigslist, I have landed myself in a sweet double car garage not too far from my place of habitat and best of all…it comes with free electricity! Yay! Time to get cracking on all the work that I have been too lazy to bother starting.
After much careful thought, the matter has finally been settled. I am jumping head first into a sport that will undoubtedly be the most thrilling aspect of my life as well as the single most expensive activity that I have ever participated in. If you have been reading along, then you would probably like to know that I have decided to not rebuild the engine but instead spend the extra money on buying a better suspension and safety gear. Cause and effect of listening to Scott H’s stories.
So this past Sunday during one of the local races, I signed a big fat check over to Carlo (TC Motorsports) who is helping me out with ordering all the suspension and steering components. Among other things ordered was a 3.73 LSD from eBay to replace the stock 3.73 open differential currently in the car. I am guessing I will need to switch to 4.10 in a couple years, but hey, I managed to get the 3.73 at a really good price. Also jumped on a really good deal at Edge Racingand ordered four Enkei RPF-1 15×7 wheels and Falken/Ziex Ze 912 tires to wrap them in.
Don’t worry, I won’t keep you hanging for juicy pictures. Here are a few shots of the LSD which the FedEx man just dropped off. Drool on!
On a whim, my friend Matt and I decided it’s about time to strip the interior of the 325i after I wanted to relocate the sub and amps from the 3-series to my 5-series. From what was supposed to take 15 mins ended up taking a day and a half and we ended up with a mostly stripped 325i exposing its bare red skin to all those who dare to glance. All that are left are the A/C components, roof liner and noise reducing pads…but that’s for another weekend. As always, here are some pictures from the event…Matt’s dog seems to like the new interior quite a bit :)
Replaced all the brake rotors, pads and fluid in preparation for autox this year. Before race season next year these will be replaced again by Brembo rotors and pads. Check out the bling:
When I bought the car, I was made aware of low compression issues in the engine which most likely needed extensive engine work. I wanted to know for sure what the problems were as the engine seemed quite zippy and the best way to diagnose engine troubles are compression and leakdown tests. So I took the Red Beast down to Strictly BMW for a quick check-up. And here’s what the doctor found:
Diagnosis: Cylinders 2, 3, and 6 are in excellent condition. Cylinder 1 and 5 could be fixed by doing a top-end rebuild. However, to get cylinder 4 back into shape a bit of love and care is needed. More to the point, the cylinder may have deformed into a egg shaped cylinder which can only be fixed by boring. So my two choices are to rebuild it which will gurantee me a good competitive engine for the next couple of years to come, or buy a used block from somewhere. To rebuild an engine it will cost about $4000 including parts and labor, whereas, I can get an used engine for a mere $900. I am holding back on making a choice till I talk to a few racing gurus.
After what seems like an eternity, I have finally found what I am looking for! Its a beautiful red 1989 325i that has been babied by the previous three owners. As arranged, the cute little beast was parked in the middle of the Macy’s parking lot and it clearly stood out from the rest of the pack. As I drove towards it, the smile on my face couldn’t be lifted for any sum of money and right then and there I knew that this is it.
After a thorough look-over by my friend Mike, we confirmed what we already knew. Very well taken care of E30 325i. Sure the engine needed a bit of work, brakes needed some attention and the windshield replaced but when you get a rust free body, new transmission and clutch, new tires, and an interior that will leave you second guessing if this car was really manufactured in 1988, the bad points melt away like butter. Surprisingly the engine was responsive despite having low compression issues.
Zipping through the price discussion, cash trading hands for the title, the usual handshakes and we have ourselves a beautiful 325i ready to be converted into a race car. Here’s a teaser of the Red Best:
So I have been staring at craigslist for quite some time now looking for a good deal on either a Spec Miata or an E30 BMW. Everyone knows that a good starting race car is a Miata … however, what exactly makes it the number one choice for newcomers?
To help solve this dilemma I asked Jim Walsh who races a Porsche GT3 cup car in SCCA here in the Northwest. According to him, Miatas have a very low cost of entry. The earlier model (NA) cars can be found for a pretty decent price and maintenance costs are quite low as well. The best part of it is that you can drive you SpecMiata to the track, race, and then drive it back home! Not many other categories yield streetable cars if they are prepped to be competitive. But that is still not why Miata’s are recommended as starter cars…and if you are thinking that speed is the factor then you are only partially right.
Yes the car only has 120 hp which means to be fast on track with a Miata you have to learn and execute perfect driving lines whenever possible. This is undoubtedly very critical to become a good racer but the other important factor is the type of competition you have. Because of the low cost of entry, there are more SpecMiata racers on track, which also means you have more competitors to gauge yourself against. So there’s always someone there to make your track experience more meaningful and exciting. And all these factors combined makes Miata the number one choice for folks new to racing.
Thats fine and dandy, but why am I looking for an E30? Michael Lord, Competition License Director for the SCCA Northwest Region and the Lead Instructor for ProFormance Race School gave me a bit more insight into the local racing scene. He mentioned that the ICSCC (https://www.icscc.com/) is more popular here in the northwest than SCCA. And ICSCC has their own spec class called the PRO-3 consisting of E30 BMWs. For the same reasons as Jim Walsh, he thinks the PRO-3 is a better choice for starting off in regional competition as well as having a bit more powerful car which will keep things fun and interesting for a long time. Though he suggested that after getting the car, I put in a lot, a lot of seat time before attempting to race it.So with that, its settled…PRO-3 it is.
Starting off a blog is perhaps more challenging than I thought it would be. How do you begin to describe what it feels to get started in the world of racing…you simply can’t. You have set plans on how you would like to execute but you have no idea what might obstruct them in the future. If you ask any racer today, they will all unanimously say that choosing to be a part of the world of motorsports was one of the best decisions they made in their lives. So with high hopes and optimism I am putting together my words, my experiences as they happen…good or bad, for the rest of the world to get a glimpse into the life of an amateur racer. Welcome aboard!