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Old 10-05-2017, 11:15 AM   #41
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Project update for October 3rd, 2017: I am way behind updating build threads; I need to do about 5 other project updates but I am going to try to do a quick update here. We had a busy summer, which pushed back some work my red TTD prepped 330, but we finally did some upgrades in mid September.

Click the image to open in full size.

Not only did the front bodywork and aero completely change on the red TTD 330 (above), we completed and sold two of the other E46 cars we have been chronicling in this thread: the 325Ci "Jack Daniels" coupe and the Track Rat 328i sedan (below). This time I will show the final round of work on JD and the 2nd round on the silver 328.

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We also picked up another E46 coupe, this black 2003 below. We are just now starting to work on repairing the "little things" to create another "reliable daily driver" for Amy and I to use while some of our other cars are in the shop for upgrades.

Click the image to open in full size.

I won't talk about the black 325 Coupe above this time, but I will cover work to these other three E46 projects in this post - plus one NASA race weekend - while trying to keep it as brief as possible.

ROUND 317 OF JACK DANIELS REPAIRS + SOLD

This little "whiskey dented" E46 Coupe E46 started this whole build thread, which we named Jack Daniels. It needed a lot of repairs - too many to count - and I lost money on this car due to the purchase price + parts costs alone. I quit counting hours long ago, because it was ugly.

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Learned I should have learned long ago - no matter how cheap a car seems up front, starting with a high mileage car coupled with excessive repair costs can bury a project into a money loser right from the beginning. This car needed everything when we bought it with 200K miles: interior work, body work, paint work, suspension work, gaskets/leak fixes, clean-up work, entire cooling system, headlights, and all of the normal things that can plague any high mileage E46.

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Even with a shop that specializes in BMWs, and friends in the industry hooking us up on things like PDR repairs, and wholesale pricing on repair parts, I really blew the budget on this one. I won't say how many thousands I lost on this build, but it was enough to notice.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

In the end we really cleaned up this little 325 Coupe, and made somebody a nice daily driver that they got with pretty much everything touched or repaired. It had some upgrades that we did when this was going to be our TTD build - the 330 front brakes, Powerflex bushings, etc - and Amy used this is a daily driver off and on for 2 years.

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I had people who read this thread that kept calling to try to buy this car for months, but I kept finding things I wasn't happy with and wanted it to leave my shop only when I felt it was "right". So when I drove it recently and felt the rear diff bushing slop, I had our new tech, Aaron, install Powerflex poly diff bushings in all 3 locations (see above). The OEM rubber is just so soft and cracked that this will give whoever buys it less trouble back there.

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One nagging thing that kept bugging me was the flaky fuel level gauge. It would only read "full" for a few miles after you topped off the tank, then it would ready empty for 3/4 of the gauge sweep. There are TWO fuel level senders and I ordered the primary one that comes with the new fuel pump, shown above. Our crew swapped that assembly in and it fixed the gauge, whew. Notice also: no more dash lights! We only put 7,000 miles on this car in 2 years, but whenever its logged over 200K it still kills the resale value.

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The leather seats (which came from my red 2001 330Ci) needed a bit of work and Brad used LEXOL conditioner to clean and condition the fronts as well as the rear seats. The car was then washed, detailed, vacuumed - cleaner than it ever was while in our possession. I finally felt good about letting this one leave and let the next guy that called have it for a decent price.

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When it was time to deliver it to the new buyer he ended up with a lot of repaired systems and a clean, reliable car that is fun to drive for not a lot of money. It won't win any car shows but it should put in many thousands of street miles without too much trouble. It might become the basis for his next WRL endurance race car build in the next few years also. #LongLiveJackDaniels

TRACK RAT GETS SOLD, CUSTOMER WANTS UPGRADES

I have talked about the silver Track Rat build in the past. This was a 1999 BMW 328i sedan we bought a while back for another purpose (endurance racing), but when priorities changed I just used this car to fill time in the schedule when our techs weren't on billable work. Which is rare, but still. Last time I showed the 330 front brake upgrade to this car, the Bilstein coilover suspension install, rear subframe reinforcement and bushing upgrades done in late 2016. Let's cover another round of work that happened in 2017: the interior.

INTERIOR: ALUMINUM DOOR PANELS, FLOORS, CONSOLE, ROLL BAR, SEATS

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Our crew that started tearing this car apart one weekend (when I wasn't here), to make it into an endurance race car, literally ripped apart and threw away perfectly good interior panels and seats. When we aborted that plan and I decided to make this into a dual purpose street/track car to sell, we needed to keep the windows. Question: how do we cover the door openings on the inside? Answer: fabricate all the things!

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

Ryan made some 3D aluminum door panels that tied into the felts at the top and bolt to the doors around the perimeter. These were a little tricky to make and no, we won't likely make a production version. The C shaped cut-out at the front is to clear the dash. The "bump" out of the upper section is to clear the power window motor.

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The seats were tossed during the interior removal, too. We stock a lot of race seats here so I had Ryan build brackets and a slider to hold the Sparco Circuit II on the driver's side. Notice how ugly the naked transmission tunnel looks, above?

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I got stuck with this unusual and LARGE Momo FIA seat shown above when it didn't fit into a customer's Miata. Plenty of room for wider seats in an E46, so it went into the Track Rat. It uses a fixed mount and fits virtually anyone on the passenger side.

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The center console was thrown out also - along with ALL of the window switches, DSC switch, hazard switch, etc. This made me "less than happy" so I had one of our techs make a new center console. It wasn't exactly a fabrication masterpiece but it does the job. Again, this was back when it was just another car we had and I was trying to get it into shape to sell.

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The missing switches were purchased (GRR!) and then holes were made to mount them into this aluminum console towards the end of the build. This way the hazards worked, windows rolled up and down, etc. The early E46 uses a DSC button that is different than the late cars... so this was purchased and installed as well (see below). Way too many hours tied up into this aluminum console - if you want to keep it JUST USE THE OEM PLASTICS instead.

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The carpets were gone and with that a lot of padding that covers up a funky floorpan shape and lots of big wiring bundles.

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To cover up the "non-flat" floor and hide the wires a pair of "false floors" were built from aluminum sheet. Underneath is a lot of structure to keep them from buckling under the weight of a driver's legs, which is not shown. A custom "Dead pedal" foot rest was added along with some "Grip tape" (above) to keep your shoes from sliding around on the floors when wet.

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I don't like installing fixed back racing seats into a car without at least a 4-point roll bar. A bolt-in kit was ordered from Kirk Racing, and it shipped in on a flat pallet in pieces. Ryan fitted the roll bar structure to the chassis, tack welded the rear down tubes in place in the car, then removed it to final weld these joints.

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The welded assembly was powder coated in a "textured black", then it was bolted into the car. Even the reinforcing backing plates were powder coated before installation. All in all it fits pretty well, with a gap to the roof and B-pillars that allows for this to be installed with a headliner and interior panels. Great place to hang harnesses from...

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Well it turns out when you are building a car "on speculation" of selling it, you probably shouldn't install racing seats and assume it will fit the buyer. The Circuit II wasn't the right seat but we had an EVO III in stock that fit him perfectly. This was installed into the Track Rat and the new Circuit II that was in there went into my red 330, which I showed in the last installment. A pair of new Schroth Profi-II 6-point harnesses went in to wrap up the safety/interior bits.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

A bit of PDR was done early on in this build to remove some dings and a "wrinkle" in one door panel. Kris did a great job and made this car look pretty sharp - it had good paint, just needed a little massaging.

Click the image to open in full size.

Next time I will show the upgrades the customer asked for after he purchased the car. It now looks like this, above. We have since tackled the wider wheels/tires, flares, oiling system upgrades, cooling system changes, custom brake cooling, new belts/hoses, Vorshlag motor/trans mounts, new Motul fluids, plus some other small repairs and a few more little restoration jobs. This car has already seen track use and the owner loves it. He can drive to the track with cold air and windows up, then get there and let 'er rip. It turned into a more dedicated track car interior, and a better dual purpose build than even our 330...

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Old 10-05-2017, 11:17 AM   #42
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continued from above

NEW FRONT NOSE + SPLITTER FOR TTD 330

In the last installment we showed a carbon hood upgrade and new seat on the red 330, so it was a bit lighter than before. We had to add back some ballast (which came out when we put in the 4-point roll bar) to meet the 3205 lb weight we were claiming with driver (I had crept up to 217 lbs in the spring, yikes). That 3205 number is 80 lbs under the "base class" weight of 3285, so we have been burning +6 TTD class points to take this 80 lb drop all season. This was because we couldn't figure out exactly what to do with those points...

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The 330 did well enough at Hallett in June (2 wins + track record) but we had some really close TTD competition (Acura ITR). Being so far under the TTD class / build "theoretical power" max of 244 whp (at 3285 pounds) is hurting it's competitiveness (only making 216 whp with header, exhaust, CAI, stock tune). A 28 hp power deficit is huge, but we didn't have any points left to make the stock M54 engine substantially more powerful, legally. We were also hitting a brick wall with the BMWeditior software (more on that below) and finding someone locally to tune it to maybe find another ~10-15 whp wasn't panning out. Even "tuned" we could still be 20+ hp short of the class/build max. So what is left that we attack to make the car faster for TTD, that can also apply to TT4 class next year? (TTD is going away)

Click the image to open in full size.

Downforce! To go faster in the corners we need some help from the air, and we have been wanting to add a wing + air dam + splitter to this 330 build since the very beginning. Aero upgrades helped us find a lot of lap time in our TT3 Mustang, but when the "powers above" inexplicably pulled 7 points from the "E46 330" listing in Jan 2016 (the TTE -> TTE* fiasco) it crushed most of my "aero dreams". We spent every classing point carefully, but with only 6 points left (assuming we ballasted up to 3285 lbs) we could only do a few things with aero, and none of it was "balanced":

TTD legal Aero additions, shown with class points
Wing = +4
Air dam = +3
Splitter = +3
Front fascia change = +3 (aka: air dam)
Canards/Winglets = +2 (not legal for TT4)
Flat front flat undertray = +0 (from front centerline to front lip)
Rear Diffuser = +3 (not legal for TT4)
Vented hood / CAI = +1 (already are claiming with CAI)

Jason and I brainstormed this part of the TTd build over many lunches for the last two years and could not come up with an aero combination that used all 6 points we had left and could give the car more balanced front/rear downforce potential. I briefly thought about a CRAZY multi-element canard/winglet setup (+2) with a flat undertray (+0) front aero package with a rear wing (+4). The rules poorly define any limits for canards/winglets, especially as to their numbers/square footage/shapes. That craziness might have worked for one event, but then a rules rewrite would have shut that down. And with a planned move to TT4 for 2018, canards/winglets are not legal there. So this would be a lot of weird front aero that could be used for a very time period, maybe not even a full weekend of TT racing.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

We also tried to rationalize taking off some mods (brakes, suspension, etc) to "get some points back" for more aero potential, but everything on the 330 now serves a purpose: to test/prove a new part or brand, to make the car faster, and/or make it easier to drive. Nothing there we could afford to lose was worth enough points to sneak in a wing + air dam + splitter. So for now we compromised and pushed for all 6 points to be used on an air dam/front fascia (+3) and full splitter (+3) instead - which could also be used later in TT4. I had picked up a number of these E46 M3 bumper covers a while back and they fit the E46 coupe perfectly. Even the HARD flares fit up to it without modifications. The original 330 nose was also pretty beat up, as pointed out by the #JankyStick above. The M3 nose had better brake inlet duct support, a larger lower grill opening, and a "more flat" lower edge for a splitter. It also looked a lot better.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

Mounting an aftermarket bumper cover to an E46 could be easier than what we did here, but I wanted to go with with a custom front bumper beam - just like we did on the E46 M3 CSL V8. It is both legal and strong and would probably be lighter, yet loses the "5 mph" bumper shock design. I figured if I hit something on track, its gonna be at a lot more than 5 mph. Aaron used a tubing roller and curved a piece of 1.75" dia DOM tubing, then made some bolt-on brackets and stand-offs, to place the curved beam under the new M3 nose.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

Maybe we could have tweaked/modified/forced the OEM E46 bumper beam & 5 mph collapsible bumper struts to fit with this aftermarket M3 nose, but I wanted something stronger and lighter, so this tubular setup was my decision. A raised sheet metal bracket along the middle of the curved beam has a flat mounting face that the bumper cover bolts to, with the recessed stainless mounting hardware hidden behind the hood/grill. Dimple dies keep this bracket light, and two more "loops" of thin sheet metal touch the underside of the bumper cover out on the ends, giving it additional support.

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The bumper cover and beam assembly were on and off the car many times for mock-up. The goal was a cleaner fit, so it was not rushed. I wanted this new nose to look good (after it is painted) and have tight body lines when completed. After it was tacked up the beam assembly was removed and finish TIG welded on the bench.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

A new OEM plastic/rubber front "radiator inlet snorkel" from an E46 M3 was ordered and installed, replacing the fresh E46 330 snorkel we had put on last year. This plastic piece seals the openings from the two "nostril" grills and lower "mouth" grill of the M3 nose onto the face of the radiator - directing air through the core. Since air wants to take the path of least resistance, without this air snorkel you would lose a lot of inlet airflow around the radiator core. The OEM engineers do a great job of making these inlet boxes have smooth lines, proper angles, and good seal, and it was much easier to buy this $153 part than make it from scratch. We often make these calculations to see when it makes more sense to buy something than to fabricate it - because time is money, for everyone, always. #BoughtNotBuilt

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

By that same logic, Why not just buy a splitter kit? Guys like AJ Hartman make a beautiful carbon unit that fits this E46 M3 nose. The answer for us was that none of the worthwhile, pre-made splitters fit our class rules, especially the "new-for-2017" TT4 rules. Off the shelf splitter kits rarely fit every class or organization, and some "image brand" parts are not strong enough for real track use.

So this time we did have to make something custom - to fit both the TTD and TT4 rules. We chose sheet aluminum for this splitter design, as we often do, for a lot of reasons. I will address this and the many of the rules we had to interpret to make the max sized splitter for TT4, below.

AERO RULES MEASUREMENT DRAMA

Like we find in almost every ruleset, Jason and I looked at the TT4 aero specific rules and saw things that left some "room for interpretation". In TTD the splitter can protrude past the car a full 12" forward and up to 6" wider than the body. In TT4 a front splitter can protrude 4" forward... but from where? For this event we went with a more liberal interpretation of the TT4 limits rules for our TTD (for now) splitter. Of course the internet erupted with howls of protest when I showed pictures during construction. People cannot be bothered to research the rules or class you are running in, nor want to discuss the nuances of rules that are missing definitions or key words about measurement, in 60 characters or less.

Click the image to open in full size.

So while this splitter "looks huge", its pretty mild for what is allowed in TT-Letter class (TTD), but potentially not legal for TT4 (depending on how they "intended" for the rule to be) by about 1-2" in the forward direction. We are building for TT4 later this season but at the very next NASA event (MSR-Houston) the car will still be running TTD.

Quote:
2017 NASA TT rule 7.3.2.D.2
TT4 Specific Aerodynamic Modification Allowances (if not using OEM Mod Factor):
Aerodynamic parts/devices/aides shall be limited in TT4 to the following:
a) All of the items listed above in section 7.3.2.D.1) “OEM Aero” Modification Factor.
b) Vertical front air dam (5º tolerance) that follows the outermost edge of the front and side bodywork/fascia.
c) Single flat, horizontal front splitter that protrudes no greater than 4” from the vehicle.
d) Single rear wing or spoiler that does not exceed a height of 8” above the roof line, or width greater than the vehicle’s body width, or end plates greater than 12”.
e) Modified BTM, non-Base Trim Model (non-BTM), or replaced front fascia (unless specifically approved in Appendix D:
i) May have nothing attached to it other than specifically allowed items (above).
ii) May not have canards/winglets molded into it.
iii) Any item that is molded into the fascia that functions as an airfoil, deflector, dive plane, or vortex generator and extends 2" or more past the outline of the immediate surrounding fascia is prohibited. To inspect: a plumb line run across the entire surface of the fascia and bumper shall not have any such item that extends 2” past the line when viewed from above.
f) Cutting/removal of the rear bumper cover/fascia where it does not cover the rear frame/bumper cross beam.
In ST4/TT4 if you don't use the "OEM" aero rules and chose to take the small p-to-w penalty (0.4) for "non-stock aero" (we will), you can build around these front aero rules shown above. Somewhat limited allowances and lengths compared to TT-Letter, and the entire section is a bit on the brief side. No canards/winglets or rear diffuser allowed (which are legal in TT-Letter). Since there is no side-limit we jump back up to regular TT1/2/3/4 aero limits, which are a maximum 6" from edge of vehicle, so a splitter can be wider than it is long front-back. About that 4 inch forward protrusion...

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
Defining how and where to measure critical components is important in proper rule writing

It doesn't say so in the TT4 splitter rule 7.3.2.D.2.c, but where do you measure "forward" on the splitter from? This is critical and can be interpreted in 3 ways: A) the projected outline of the bumper cover, B) from the base of the front fascia (and which one - OEM or aftermarket/allowed limit of the class?), or C) from the base of the allowable air dam? Since the TT4 aero rules mention "outermost edge" in 7.3.2.D.2.b, and again with a definition of how to measure "past the outline" in 7.3.2.D.2.3.iii, you'd think it was from the projected outline, right? And since an air dam is legal and effectively changes the projected outline by another 5° forward, that moves the "line of measurement" forward as well.

Click the image to open in full size.

That being said, this is how we measured for this splitter, which I feel is 100% legal for TT4 with the rules as written. Of course after a picture was posted on Facebook, I was told through back channels very quickly that's not what they "intended". So even though the same TT4 aero rules section defines projected outline and references it in two other places, and we can add an air dam with up to 5° off vertical that pushes that outline further, they want us to cut the splitter back considerably for TT4 use. We think... Maybe... The written rules contradict this non-official judgement. You never know how these rulings will go, but it seems to always be against how we interpret things.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

Regardless, this splitter plus another 6" of length was legal for TTD at MSR-H. For the event at the NOLA event in October we will switch classes from TTD to TT4, and there I might ask another TT4 competitor there to file a formal protest on this item, so we can FORCE an official ruling from NASA National. In writing. With a change in the rulebook for next year. This way everyone is on the same playing field in 2018.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

The splitter plane itself is .125" thick 6061-T6 aluminum, which is thinner than I normally use so I might not stand on this one like I usually do. The splitter was checked for level and ground clearance at the leading edge was ample at 87 mm (3.4"). This is a more clearance than we have done on previous splitters, like our TT3 Mustang which was closer to 2".

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

Splitter height is critical, and the lower you can get to the ground plane without the splitter plane bottoming (which disrupts downforce completely), the better. But then there are other real world limits, like the issues of curbing height limiting track width (see above right) and the need to load cars into a trailer or onto a flatbed wrecker (see above left), plus body roll and brake dive / bump travel that can smash your splitter into the ground. You need to plan for this, and sometimes this is only seen in track testing.

We let some of the chassis give us a starting point. The back of the splitter mounts at the front edge of the OEM factory undertray/engine bay brace - which is a two layer, welded, stamped aluminum structure. Nutserts were added to this and countersunk stainless hardware was added to the back edge of the splitter to secure it there. From there forward it is level - which is required (no up- or down-angle is permitted).

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

Now it was time to support the leading edge of the splitter. As this splitter extends about 6" forward from the base of the bumper cover, and the plastic fascia is not a good anchor to counteract downforce loads (expected to be in the 100-300 pound range, depending on speed), we need some splitter "stays" or "struts" to hold it in place. Some folks use cables, which only work in tension, but that isn't how we do it around here.

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Old 10-05-2017, 11:38 AM   #43
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continued from above

I also wanted the struts to be mounted into brake duct or grill openings, to minimize holes in the (eventually) painted front fascia. Aaron machined thin slices of solid round steel bar with threaded holes, then welded these in 4 points to the bumper beam. The splitter struts extend through the plastic fascia and attach securely. These struts then mount at the splitter plane with countersunk hardware from underneath, with nothing to hang down and get "ground off" on pavement.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

With the bumper cover in place the #ExposedSplitterStruts are softened a bit, which a friend G-Speed gives me so much grief for. These 9" Joe's Racing Struts have LH and RH threads, which you can adjust the length of by turning the aluminum hex bar center portion. Sometimes we custom make longer units but it wasn't necessary on this splitter (see below right).

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

While a carbon fiber splitter can often get by without struts, we are not a composite shop. The costs for replacing a molded carbon splitter ($2000-2500, if one existed to fit this car/class, which it doesn't) also pale in comparison to the $200 that this 4x8' sheet of 6061 aluminum sheet cost. We could cut another from our new pattern quickly. Carbon splitters also fail spectacularly - they can crack, shatter and sometimes explode in use.

Aluminum splitters tend to bend and deform, which can be repaired track-side with a hammer or by driving over the bent piece with a truck tire. Most of the time spent on this "splitter install" (33.01 hours) was the planning, templating, bumper beam construction, bumper cover mounting, OEM inlet air snorkel swap, struts and anchor mounting, tow hook install, making the air dam mounts, adding the air dam plastic, brake inlet duct mounting, tire wall fabrication, etc. Making the actual splitter plane cut-out was probably only 2 hours.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

Now we had to fill the big gap between the bottom of the not-quite-flat M3 bumper cover and the top of the splitter plane. This was our air dam solution - some short pieces of aluminum angle (not shown) were bent to follow the shape of the fascia, riveted to the splitter, which then forms a semi-continuous lower mounting flange. Next a small strip of black plastic "race roll" was cut, marked, drilled and mounted vertically to this flange via rivets, and trimmed to overlap the fascia and fill the gap. We didn't rivet the upper face to the bumper cover, as this air dam might change, and the pressure of the plastic (after a bit of forming/heating) made for an adequate seal to the body along the top edge.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
These thin aluminum bits are "tire walls", and do not add downforce. They curve downwards

These vertical aluminum parts added in front of the tires (above) are what I am calling "flare extensions". Its really a "tire wall", but they don't define or address this in any NASA ST/TT class that we can find. They also function as an outboard splitter support (we cut the width back from the allowed 6" down to 4", to keep the front end narrower). The black plastic fender flare (allowed) has rules that are a bit vague, so we are calling the more vertical parts of the tire walls an "air dam" (allowed) - which serves the same function here. We went to great lengths to integrate these with the HARD Motorsport flare and keep it from being a potential "canard" (not legal).

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
These cars both have canards, which are meant to add downforce outside of the front splitter. They curve upwards.

In the 71 pages of the 2017 v14.1 NASA ST/TT rules, there is no definition of a "canard" (3 mentions) or "winglet" (2 mentions) that we can find, but the motorsports world knows what a canard is and how it functions. The purpose is to take air hitting the front of the car and curve it upwards (concave shape) and force the air flow to create some downforce. These do work but are a bit drag intensive. Canards are not allowed in TT4, where we are heading with this car. What we have added onto the 330 are curved the wrong way to create downforce, and really are just missing extensions of the flare to cover the spinning portion of the tire sticking out into the air stream. No downforce generated, just operating as a fender flare for the front edge. Again, we can call the front vertical section of these "air dam" if you want - which is legal.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

A threaded coupling was machined, fitted into and welded to the bumper beam (above left) for mounting the pivoting front tow hook. Four little aluminum brackets were built to allow the OEM style grills to mount in the single-layer carbon fiber hood (the OEM steel hood has a mounting flange). These provide a function - keep big nasty rocks from flying into the heat exchangers, and the grills fit up against our M3 air inlet snorkel. Lastly a factory BMW roundel hood emblem was drilled and mounted to the carbon hood which has a depression for the emblem plus the two OEM anchors.

Click the image to open in full size.

That wraps up the front nose + splitter install. Below we will cover some other things that were done at the same time...

BRAKE COOLING + NEW ROTORS

We have been racing this car for 2 seasons without any front brake cooling whatsoever. A stock E46 330 normally has some small "scoop" plastics that sort of push air in the direction of the front brake hub, but its not very effective. And after the front hit that this car survived years before under another owner, all of those undertray, front fender liner, and brake scoop plastics were long gone or shredded. There were entire sections of the fender liner just gone - all too common for a 15+ year old car like this...

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

Why did I care? We have these massive Powerbrake 4 piston motorsport calipers and 340x35mm rotors up front! Big meaty things that can soak up tons of heat and shed it all easily, right? Well after 1.5 years of abuse, and a few times where I aborted a hot lap right before the pits and came in with hot brakes, I finally warped a rotor. Amy says I came in more than once with the front brakes pouring smoke, hopped out, ran off to get in a student's car, and just left the car parked - which is what probably warped the rotors. My stupid mistake. So for the last couple of events I've had to drive around this issue, which would show up after a few REALLY hard laps and was evident with a pulsation in the pedal.

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Even though the rotors have plenty of meat left on them we couldn't find a way to safely turn 2-piece floating rotors, so we ordered replacement rotor rings and new bobbins/hardware from Powerbrake. These were installed onto the original aluminum hats that came with the brake kit. I was hesitant to put these new rings on the car until after we had some front brake cooling upgrade. And that brake cooling was waiting on the new nose + splitter decision. Now that we had a path forward, and a new front nose mounted, it was time to add some backing plates with cooling air, then feed that with some effective brake inlet ducts and hoses.

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We are developing a front brake cooling backing plate package for the E46 330 using the design above, which we created on the silver 328i shown at the beginning of this post (will show that next time). With a small tweak these backing plates cleared the Powerbrake calipers. The 3" oval hose opening shown should pump air completely inside the rotor hat, around the wheel bearing, and through the rotor ring's curved vanes like an air pump.

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We chose 3" hose for a number of reasons, but mostly because it packages well, provides cooling that is appropriate for cars this size/weight, and is a default brake duct size for most cars. Heavier/faster cars often get 4", but it is much less common on a 2900 pound BMW like this. Notice the vertical wall that has a "C" cut-out for the hose to pass around? That also acts as a splitter mount. We will go back after our next track event and add some inner fender liner sections - from aluminum or plastic - to fill in the gaps and better seal the engine bay. A clean fender liner makes a vented hood more efficient, too.

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Placement of a brake inlet duct is critical - you are looking for the highest pressure area on the nose without moving the inlets off to the side too much, where the air can roll off to the sides. These HARD Motorsport inlet ducts fit the E46 M3 nose perfectly, so a pair were purchased. Again - we can buy something for a whole lot less than the time it would take to hand-make it here. #BoughtNotBuilt The bumper beam was designed to clear these with the new nose, because all of these pieces interact with each other in the same space.

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Right: The hole shown in the duct is for the splitter strut mount to pass thru and land on the bumper beam.

The M3 foglight openings are large and these formed thermoplastic ducts fit around them perfectly. They form a nice curved bell that pushes the inlet air into the 3" round opening, which fits inside 3" brake hose nicely. Aaron mounted these to the M3 bumper cover with rivets hidden behind the front face, for a cleaner look. The hoses route to the backing plates but care was taken to keep them from being rubbed into by the front tires steering at full lock. With a 17x10" wheel, that takes some twists and turns, and the custom vertical splitter mounts inside the wheel well have room for the hoses, but its part of the normal plan when routing brake hoses. This should keep rotor temps from getting high enough to warp a rotor ring, even if I screw up and forget to take a cool down lap after a session. (I did a full 20 minute session of qualifying laps at MSR-H with these brake ducts installed - never saw even a hint of fade or warping).

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Even with nearly 2 seasons of track events on these Powerbrake fronts, and the lack of brake cooling, and my mistakes in skipping cool down laps, the PB23 compound pads that I purchased with this set of calipers still have a ton of life! These are motorsports calipers so they are made with thicker-than-OEM pads, but still - many of these race weekends in 2016-17 were with two drivers. Amazing stopping power and pad life.

OTHER SMALL UPGRADES

There were a number of other little modifications we accomplished over the summer before our MSR-Houston event September 22, 2017. I will briefly cover those below - including the loss of the "daily driven track car" moniker!

TT4 = NO MORE STREET CAR

There is usually a tipping point you come to in a dual purpose car where it no longer makes sense to keep it street legal. Too many compromises that you have to make for street use that limit the track potential in TT-Number class - especially the aero. Driving a car with a rigid, low mounted splitter on the street is nerve wracking! I feel that our recent "beginnings of the move" to TT4 are already unleashing too many compromises that are just not appropriate for street use. While we kept our TT3 Mustang "street legal" for long time, at a certain point when it became more competitive, it no longer made sense. That's where we are on this 330... inevitable, with the TT-Number move looming just ahead.

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Last time when we added the Sparco Circuit II seat with the halo support the car was safer on track but became less safe for street use. Why? While this style seat really helps save your head/neck/back in a side impact, the halo portion blocks a some of your side vision. I mentioned it briefly then.

In a race car you should have enough situational awareness for this small blind spot to not matter, but on the street where you have a lot more crazy people trying to kill you... not ideal. Swapping seats is a pain and we have so many more daily driver cars (including other E46 models) it didn't make sense to do that with this car, so its off of "street duty" for now.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

We also pulled the front seat belts and the Texas rear license plate came off. A fake Euro-style, vanity plate went in it's place (these embossed metal pieces look like real plates and cost $25-35 online). We were also never going to run the TT4 motor with catalytic convertors, which are dangerous to run with in long stints on track with a race motor, so we can avoid that limitation. And registering/inspecting/insuring the car costs money that I'd rather spend on race tires. I just sold the fresh set of Dunlop ZII street tires (to pay for race tires!), dropped the insurance, and decided to no longer "dual purpose" this car. #BecauseRacecar It still has roll up windows and the A/C might stick around a while longer, but those might both go away in the future as well. We will see.

MORE BALLAST + M3 GAUGE CLUSTER SWAP + FUEL LEVEL FIX

With the 6 points spent on air dam and splitter for TTD we had to add the 80 pounds of ballast back in the trunk, going from the 3205 lb number we have been running this season up to the 3285 lb number shown. We are so far under max power/torque it isn't even worth noting (but we do have it on our classing sheets and dyno printouts).

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Two 45 lb plates + one 25 lb plate are double secured to our weight bracket in the trunk. I lost 21 pounds over the summer (Atkins) so I had to add that for a total of 115 lbs of ballast now (the roll bar gobbled up about 60 pounds). We left with only 1/2 tank, to test fuel slosh, too.

continued below
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continued from above

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

Note that between our first race in Jan 2016 we have gone from a 54% front weight bias down to a much ideal 50.5% front bias now. We have been moving weight down and to the back every chance we get.

A random failure of a stock gauge cluster in the silver 328 led to a musical chairs of E46 cluster swaps - my red 330 gave up the stock cluster and a leftover E46 M3 cluster made its way in. This isn't a 100% plug-in swap - there's a beeping alarm and "brake light" lit up ever since - but the fuel level, water temp, speedo and tach all seem to work perfectly. Don't know about the oil temp gauge? Bonus: the M3 has a 9000 rpm tach, which might come in handy for next year's motor!

Click the image to open in full size.

Also (not shown) Aaron pulled inspection covers for the fuel tank to see our dual fuel pump setup, which fuel cut at Hallett in right hand turns with 1/2 tank or less. He re-routed one of the crossover hoses to be able to to retest at MSR-H.

CURRENT TTD POINTS BREAKDOWN

Below is the list of modifications in this, the final iteration of this car for TTD class. TTC goes away in 2018 and rumor has it TTD will be sacked as well, both replaced by TT4/TT5. We won't see those new TT5 rules until its too late to build for next year, but very likely we would have to ballast up or power down for TT5.

Click the image to open in full size.
Ballasted up to our new TTD 3285 pound number with me in it, + 1/2 tank of fuel, + 5 lb buffer

So we planned on running TTD at least one more time in 2017 before making the jump to TT4. Our E46 330 starts in TTE class and has 39 points to spend with "1 class UP jump" to TTD (+19 points for TTE and +20 points once into TTD). Here's the points breakdown:

+ Base classing of TTE* with 3285 lb min
+ 7 points for the BMW E46 330 "star" added to this car in the 2016 rules (*GRR!)
+ 10 points for Hoosier Racing Tire R7 compound
+ 1 point for 245mm tire size (+10mm from 235mm base class TTE tire)
+ 0 points for weight reduction (we were taking +6 for -80 pounds previously)
+ 1 point for cold air and/or hood venting (haven't vented yet)
+ 5 points for non-stock headers, cats, exhaust
+ 3 points for 2 way non-remote monotube coilovers (Motion Control Suspension TT2 model)
+ 2 points for non stock springs (Hyperco coilover springs)
+ 2 points for swaybars (Whiteline at both ends)
+ 2 points for non-BTM brakes (Powerbrake front 340x35mm 4 piston)
+ 3 points for add, replace, modify front fascia or air dam (5° variance from vertical) - New mod
+ 3 for add, replace, modify a single flat front splitter (up to 6" wider than body and up to 12" sticking out front) - New mod
================================================
39 points (everything else we have done is an approved "free" mods)

CUSTOM "REMOTE TUNE" - NO GAIN

In an effort to squeeze as much out of the TTD setup before we go to the new motor next season, and to see if the BMWeditor software actually works, we asked for some help from a friend at another shop. He knows how to load a tune into these cars, and had a tune sent from a "remote tuner" who tunes BMWs all the time. We communicated the mods the car had (header, exhaust, no cats, no air pump, CAI) and the goals (road course use) and he had something that he felt would fit the bill. We did not have time to book a dyno - this happened suddenly, the day before we left for MSR-Houston.

It took a little effort but our local buddy got the tune to load and actually start and run. I drove it around the block and it "felt better" but who knows? Maybe that was wishful thinking. I was just glad we didn't have the stock tune any longer! I knew we couldn't possibly go beyond the class limit of 244 whp from our 216 whp previous dyno, so we loaded the car up for the NASA weekend.

Click the image to open in full size.

A few days after this race weekend I went by True Street Motorsports (who does not tune BMWs directly, but has a dyno and tunes all of my GM and Ford V8 powered cars), where we made several pulls to see what the power numbers and air:fuel ratio looked like with the wide-band O2 they hook up during pulls. In the graph below we have overlaid the best "stock tune with headers + CAI" pull (in blue) with the best pull of the new "tuned" setup (in red). We made 3 pulls that day but they were nearly identical.

Click the image to open in full size.

As you can see it didn't change much at all. The "tuned" curve was within 2-3 hp of the old one everywhere, and was actually down 1 hp at peak. If it wasn't for the much worse Air:Fuel ratio I would have guessed that this car still had the stock tune loaded. In the upper end of the power band where it matters, the A:F went from 12.05:1 (rich) with the stock tune, down to 11.05:1 (VERY rich) with the new tune. So it went from bad to worse. Not dangerous, just far from ideal.

I worked in the late 1990s in a shop where we did custom EFI tuning using a chassis dyno (and some street driving) with a wide band. I know what it takes to tune a car, and like I have said in the past, I feel that canned/email tunes or "remote tunes" are impossible to do properly without a lot of time on the tuner's end and someone with a dyno + a wide band at the car's end, so this "shot in the dark" tune went about as I expected.

Now that we know what the hang up was on our end with BMWeditor (the BIN loader software), and we can see what happened between the stock tune and the new one, we can work with the tuning software directly, while on the dyno. If we can get the A:F closer to ~13.5:1 at WOT, that should unlock a few more horses. Running at 11:1 or 12:1 won't hurt anything, just not the way to make the most power on a Naturally Aspirated motor.

NASA @ MSR-HOUSTON SEPT 21-23, 2017

As I showed above, the new splitter still required all 12' feet of the 2-piece RaceRamps to load, but it goes in relatively easily. With the front tow hook it can be winched in, but I normally just drive it in and out.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

We loaded up the Thursday evening before the event, bringing along a second set of 17x10" Forgestars (ordered over the summer, powder coated gold) mounted with two "fresher" R7s and 2 new "sticker" R7s that I won earlier this year (the one day we finally had 5 in class, Saturday at Hallett). With no time for track testing before this event we went ahead and signed up for the Friday "test day". The plan was to run the old set of tires on the silver wheels (which had too many events on them) at the Friday test, try get the car and driver dialed in with the new front aero, then switch to the sticker/newer set for Saturday to run TT.

FRIDAY - TEST DAY

We towed down 5.5 hours from Dallas to Houston Friday morning, got to the track, found a spot to park and quickly unloaded the car. Ran over and paid the $75 for the afternoon test sessions and I was in my gear and on the track by 2:30 pm.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

Since I was rushed I didn't put the vid cam in the car, but ran the AiM SOLO for lap times. Right off the bat I was way off the lap record pace set in 2014, by one of my customers in a BRZ that used to run in TTD with MCS TT2 coilovers and Hoosier A6 tires. Not only did I have a poorly handling car at speed I was having trouble remembering this track in this direction.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

MSR-Houston has been on the NASA Texas schedule twice each year for a while. They alternate the direction for the January event (normally CW) and the September event (normally CCW). For various reasons we have missed the September NASA event here most years, as this is usually a busy month where we have other events going on that pull us away. After looking back at 12 years of running NASA events, I've only found one other instance where I ran this track in the CCW direction - back in January 2014 (when it was cold, where Hoosiers work much better). This might explain why the CCW record for TTD is fairly solid at a 1:48.5 - the MSR-H CCW event wasn't run that year during the traditionally hot "second" September event date. I ran that event in TT3 that year and it was COLD, but I put down a 1:41.4 lap which was the class record until it was reset in 2015 by a TT3 M3 with a giant front wing (which prompted a front wing ban from all TT1/2/3 production cars).

Click the image to open in full size.

So I was re-learning the track again in the 330 in hot weather on a pretty used up set of tires. But still, I knew we had a setup problem - the car was very loose in high speed corners, especially Turn 2 (the Carosel). I was entering this corner at about 85-90 mph, avoiding the curbs, but it would step the rear out badly at speed. It wasn't shocks or tires, it was mid-corner at the limit - I could enter the corner slower fine, but as I sped up the nose really planted and the rear stepped out. This was the "new front downforce" working like it should, just a little too well. With no rear wing to balance that new front downforce out it had an aero imbalance. Damn it.

It was also very hot and humid - 95°F in the late afternoon sun - which didn't help things. Still, my lap times were getting "better" the longer I drove, as long as I kept my cornering speeds down in Turn 2. Very frustrating - I knew what the problem was, just couldn't fix it without pulling the entire splitter off. About 10 laps / 20 minutes into this session the coolant temps started to creep up. I took a cool down lap and they came back down, but as soon as I pushed it again they were spiking. No steam or water coming out that I could see. I shut off the engine, coasted around the track to pit in, and came into the paddock right as the session ended.

Fuel pump check: The car started this session with a hair above 1/2 tank of fuel and after the 20 minutes on a course with a long right-hander it had no fuel starvation, got all the way down to 1/4 tank with zero issues. At least we can say with confidence now that the dual fuel pump upgrade does indeed work.

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continued from above

When I got out of the car I could smell just a hint of coolant. Even though we have purged this coolant system of any traces of anti-freeze, and all we put in is distilled water and Motul "MoCool" additive, it seems like you never really get ALL of the old stuff out. I could hear just a small hiss of steam, so I popped the hood and it was coming from a tiny pinhole in the plastic coolant reservoir tank. Almost impossible to see, buried at the bottom of the engine bay.

The thicker aftermarket radiator core was pushes the plastic reservoir a tiny bit closer to the engine, and with some uncontrolled radiator movement the tank started to rub into the power steering pulley - under heavy braking, I guess? The same exact thing happened at TWS last year, and way back in 2011 on my blue 330 with the same radiator setup.

I was now on the clock - it was past 3:15 pm on Friday when I found the issue, and I needed a new reservoir, fast. Called our shop manager Brad and he started calling around - he found one at a WorldPac warehouse 32 miles north, in a rough part of Houston. They were supposed to close at 5:30 pm, so we quickly unhooked the trailer, hopped in the dually and raced north. We got there fighting the worst Houston 5 o'clock traffic I've ever seen at 5:12 pm, whew!

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

Traffic was still VERY BAD. It was going to take nearly two hours to get back down to the track, and by then it would be pitch dark. We re-routed, picked up several gallons of distilled water, headed to the hotel, and decided to get to the track right before dawn and change out the tank (its a 5-15 minute fix, if you have light). At least we got to eat some good food in Pearland at an old favorite - Los Cucos, Tex Mex.

SATURDAY - HPDE5 DAY 1

We got to the track very early, and it was foggy and dark. The cooling system was cold so I started to get the old reservoir off. Its a series of quick disconnects for several coolant hoses and attachment at the radiator neck, 5 connections total.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

I was fighting with the new tank install when I had to run off to an instructor meeting at 7:20, then a TT meeting at 7:40. I had enough time after that to get the tank on, refill with distilled water, let the car idle and hopefully "burp" coolant. I then secured the radiator with a big mess of zip ties, and yes it looked janky. I would have swapped on the "gold" wheels, but time was too tight, so I ran the old set from practice. It was just the Saturday TT warm-up, and any times taken would only count for gridding in the 2nd TT session (which would then count for times/classes).

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I got to the grid, got strapped and ready with the 5 minute warning, engine warming up... then the coolant temps spiked - it had burped out another air pocket. Shut engine off, coasted back to the paddock. Popped the cap, refilled it again with more water (and one more time later that day) to get the system bled and filled. Back to grid, no more cooling problems. Then we waited for 30 minutes...

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
Left: MSR-H just a few weeks earlier was under water. Right: Same section of track "dry"

Turns out the Hurricane Harvey had flooded the track weeks earlier, and this led to electrical gremlins with the timing system during this event. The AMB timing loop wasn't working consistently. A crew of guys was frantically working to patch the timing loop, hoping there was a break. Both the Primary and Secondary loops were failing to register transponder pings. At one point they finally sent us out for the TT Warm Up, telling us it was fixed. The TT group was gridded randomly and I was stuck behind a lot of traffic when we went out, but I fought my way through and found lots of time on the old tires - according to my AiM lap timer. I was finally into the 1:50 range, inching closer to that "cold" TTD record for the CCW course. Was finding ways of driving around the aero imbalance, but it was still very limiting.

I thought about pulling the entire splitter Saturday night, otherwise I might lose this class of 5 TTD cars with the aero imbalance issue. There were a couple of "dyno-reclassed" engine swapped, gutted race cars in TTD that I had never seen before. The track was still a bit moist from the morning fog/dew, so I came in after the traffic got really bad, not happy with my times but knowing that the sticker/new tire set would help and the fog would burn off before lunch. Sunday morning is always the "money session" anyway. Once back to the paddock Amy said the live timing system "...Race Hero didn't show any times for anyone". Hmm, that's odd, must be a communications problem? Got to grid for my HPDE1 student. And we waited for 45 minutes while they again furiously worked on the timing system again... So we didn't get any official times from the TT warm-up?

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

This went on all morning - no functional timers, frantic work, sending out cars to test the loop, and yet no times. HPDE folks had no issues because they get no times anyway. W2W groups didn't have a qualifying session and instead gridded for races after lunch by season points, but they got to race (they had a gang of volunteers hand scoring every lap, showing which cars passed start/finish in what order). But we were assured the timers would be working after lunch, so I swapped onto the gold wheels and newer tires. Got to grid for the first afternoon TT session, another long wait. When they sent us out I found a lot of time in the afternoon heat, knocking on the door of the old record with some 1:49.0 laps. Got some good passes in, figured I'd place grid really well later in session 4, might sneak into 1st, and have some good video/data to crunch over night. Sunday morning I could get this track layout in my brain, see some faster times in the cooler weather...

Wait, what? Once again the timers didn't work, and they were down for the rest of Saturday. TT was officially scrubbed, with no times, no results, no points, and no contingency for the day. Damn it, and we finally had 5 in class. The fastest "unknown" TTD car left broken on a flat bed and wouldn't be back for Sunday. So I might not have 5 in class tomorrow, but at least we'd have timers by then. They had a whole new AMB timing loop being brought in, after patching both the primary and secondary loops in the track AND moving the karting track's loop over with no luck - it wasn't for a lack of trying. They said they'd "work all night" on the timing system if they had to, get it fixed, no worries. We had surprisingly good Thai food for dinner, then went to see Kingsman 2. Turns out Pearland is actually pretty nice little town, just about 25 minutes from the track.

SUNDAY - HPDE5 DAY 2

If you aren't seeing the "HPDE 5" notes above, that's what we were calling the Untimed Time Trial group. Our luck did not improve - We never had functional no timers on Sunday, so the entire TT weekend was scrubbed for us. We could run if we wanted, but with no results. Really really disappointing to come this far and get no times. There was no back-up means of timing TT, either, we were just S.O.L. I never took a lap on Sunday - what was the point? I had already put a wasted session on a sticker set of tires for no results.

Click the image to open in full size.

I tried to stay positive and spent the day working with my HPDE1 student, then coached with two more: a DE3 guy in a S550 Mustang and a DE4 guy in a Corvette. My new wired helmet comm system worked great with all 3 guys, and we all saw some good driving and time improvements in the very hot weather. We loaded up the BMW that afternoon and after a lot of sweat and work, headed home.

Its just a bitter ending to what became an extended test weekend. Our last TTD event in this car here was just not going to happen. The fuel pump test was successful, we have narrowed down the recurring coolant reservoir issue, and the front downforce test was proven, too - the splitter made way too much impact, and let me know that it would need a wing to balance this out, and quickly.

WHAT'S NEXT?

A few days after that event we brought the car to True Street for the dyno check, which I showed above, which just added further disappointment. We then measured the chassis for width (68.9" wide, minus mirrors) and immediately ordered a wing for use in TT4 (68.5" wide). AJ Hartman is making this carbon fiber element now and we will show the new wing instillation next time.

Click the image to open in full size.

The TT4 wing mount will be similar to the E46 M3 wing on the V8 car above (same width as the car, 8" above roof), but with some changes for possible "production" manufacture. I'd just use AJ's uprights but they are tailored for BMWCCA, much lower than NASA allows. We're gonna shoot max allowed width, max allowed height. The endplates will need to be smaller but otherwise pretty similar to the M3 setup.

Click the image to open in full size.

Before the next event we will trim the front splitter just a bit, to get all of our ducks in a row for TT4. We are signed up for NASA @ NOLA for Oct 27-29, where we will go down on Thursday to be able to run the Friday test day. We will probably step up to 275 R7 tires (max size allowed in TT4), yank all 115 pounds of rear ballast, and jump right into TT4 class - under powered and over weight. We can then work on dialing in the new wing's AoA to get some aero balance in high speed corners, which NOLA has in abundance. There's no prayer of winning TT4 in this car yet, but it will give us an idea of how the class is looking and give us some goals to shoot for in 2018.

Thanks for reading!
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