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Old 04-05-2016, 04:29 PM   #21
Vorshlag-Fair
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continued from above

I've been searching for a second video camera setup to use in the BMW, but the new gear didn't show up in time for this MSR-C race. Jon brought his GoPro to use, but we were both so busy all weekend that we didn't set it up in the 330 until after I had turned the car over to him on Sunday. So no in-car TT video of my dismal laps in the 330 this time, sorry. The new vidcam will be here in time for TWS, where we should hopefully have a little more "motion control" in the suspension.

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Sunday TT Session 3 in-car video from the TTC C4

I did make one in-car video from that weekend, in the TTC Corvette, which was considerably faster than our TTD entry. Nothing special here, just showing what this track looks like, one letter class up. With the same driver, the exact same Hoosier 245mm R7 tire and similar weights, and worse brakes, the TTC C4 was nearly 6 seconds a lap quicker than my best TTD lap time. Part of that was me having a little more seat time in the C4, but mostly it came down to SPRING RATE and HORSEPOWER. The C4 is at the class minimum 3260 pounds (it was weighed 12 pounds over in Tech, so 3272) and makes 288 whp (near the class P-to-W limit). The 330 is at 3430 pounds and makes 195 whp (see dyno test below) - which is both 50 whp down and +150 pounds too heavy for TTD class. The C4 also has a massively upgraded 1200# transverse front spring compared to the 350# front coilover springs on the 330.

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Obviously we have to address the lack of power, the extra weight, and the low spring rates (and subsequent damper upgrade) needed to make the E46 more competitive in its class. We're into year 2 of prep on the "Budget TTC Corvette", so it has a bit of a head start. We should realistically have been running 1:23s or better in a max effort TTD car, so we have a lot of work left to do to this BMW. We are taking the prep in deliberate, planned stages, so stay tuned for more upgrades as the season progresses and hopefully we can nudge closer to some TTD track records - eventually.

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During this NASA weekend I was also instructing, and worked with 4 different HPDE1 students. Sometimes that meant sprinting to the grid to meet them in time for their sessions, after getting out of one of the two TT cars. The grid was way back on the unused 1.3 mile road course, due to the lack of paved parking area on the wet grassy areas. Instructing was fun, but made for a hectic weekend and a lot of running around - I need to get a scooter or small track support vehicle, something to get around the paddock in more quickly. All it takes is money, right?

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Official results for Saturday (left) and Sunday (right)

Overall the weekend was a mixed success. Driving two TT cars + instructing + talking to customers at our ever-busy trailer paddock area makes for a hectic weekend, but it was also a lot of fun. Jon got a check ride for TT and should have his comp license the next time he shows up to a NASA event. I managed two 1st place finishes in TTD (with only one timed TT session each day in this very under-prepped car) and two 2nd places in TTC. No new track records set by our cars, but our old TT3 record here (1:17.2) managed to stay untouched - for now.

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When Jon and I were switching the street tires back onto the 330, we noted that they still had excellent wear across the tread, even with the massive body roll. At least we seem to have the camber, toe and tire pressures dialed in well. Since we didn't win a new set this weekend, I suspect this 6-weekend old set of R7s will be used once again on the 330 at TWS. The front brakes also looked exceptionally good - with virtually no visible pad or rotor wear - and only the first thermal paint band had "turned". That means the rotor had crossed 527 F but had not reached the next band, which is at 860 F.

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I cannot explain with words how GOOD the brakes felt and performed, but I am now a believer. Glad we took the gamble and tried out this new Powerbrake kit on our car. They also flew in for our annual SCCA Tech day + Open House event (shown above) and their rep talked to 200+ people in our shop that day. After that meet-and-great + our recommendations, we've got a half dozen cars lined up for Powerbrake kits - some of which will be new models we have to measure for them.

After switching the tires on the BMW we moved the trailer out of the grassy swamp and onto pavement, then loaded the Corvette for the trip home. After instructing in the last 5:20 pm HPDE session, I didn't get out of there until after 6 pm, and that 2 hour tow home made for a another 12 hour day. But compared to my normal work days, this was a breeze. ;)

BASELINE DYNO TEST

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We've been pretty slammed in our shop since the NASA event, but I found time on the next weekend to go to a Dyno Day at True Street Motorsports, who tunes all of the LSx and Coyote 5.0 powered cars we build at our shop. They dyno'd JackDaniels earlier this year, shown above.

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This time I took "Fireball", the red 330, and was first in line for their Dyno Day (they did something like 60 cars that day). We set the bar pretty low that day with our baseline stock dyno pull on this 164K mile 330, but we at least had something to go by for this build!

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Sure enough, the car made about what I guessed it would on their DynoJet chassis dyno: 195 whp and 200 wtq. Not bad for a bone stock, 16 year old, 164K mile car rated at 225 hp at the crank. As I wrote last time, running at the class minimum weight of 3285 pounds, and with the +0.8 P-to-W "bonus" for running a 245mm tire, we can make up to 244.2 whp in TTD class. Now the real question is... how do we gain 50 whp without burning too many "class points"??

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Baseline Dyno Video: https://youtu.be/zAk8xZwOkgg

The underwhelming video above shows parts of the two back-to-back pulls they made on our red BMW. It was done in top gear, revved to 6000 rpm redline, and had a fan blowing over the radiator the whole time. They know how to do NASA certified dyno pulls as they've done them on a half dozen different cars for us. I just wish they had the ability to custom tune the BMW computer.

WHAT'S NEXT?

I need to wrap this up so let's see what's next. I ordered MCS TT2 internal double monotube coilovers earlier this week so we can finally get those installed with some REAL spring rates before our next event, which is...

Next few NASA Texas events:
  • April 22-24 Texas World Speedway
  • May 21-22 NOLA Motorsports Park Crossover with NOLA
  • June 11-12 Hallett Motor Racing Circuit


Of course this is the fourth or fifth "last ever" event at TWS, but I don't have much faith in those claims. We'll hopefully have a better sorted suspension to go along with the brakes and tires - both of which worked damned well. We'll still be down on power but we will address that later in the summer. One of the two Whiteline swaybars is en route to us (the rear, ugh) so we'll have to figure out something for the front.

We have TWO more E46 chassis we are going to be building soon, one of them with the PSS suspension coming off of this car. I'll show those builds as they happen in future updates. That's enough for this time. Thanks for reading!

Cheers,
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Terry Fair - Owner at Vorshlag Motorsports Phone: 972.422.7170
S197 Development Thread + C4 Corvette + 69 Camaro + S550 + more project builds in the Vorshlag Sub-Section
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Old 10-25-2016, 07:34 PM   #22
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Project Update for October 23, 2016: It has been 6 months since my last update here and we have done a LOT of work to both the red 330Ci (to make it a better race car) and the blue 325Ci (to make it a nicer street car). I will briefly cover the 325Ci updates then jump into the 330 mods. There are two NASA events we have run since the last entry but I only had time to cover the April NASA event this time. Lots more work and another event will be covered in my next update.

VISUAL IMPROVEMENTS ON JACK DANIELS, OUR 325Ci

After we purchased the red 2001 330Ci, keeping the blue 325Ci didn't make a lot of sense. But as we have realized many times in the past, it is awful handy to have a "back up" street car for use when a "dual purpose" race/street car is in the shop undergoing updates or repairs. We've been back and forth on keeping or selling Jack Daniels, but either way, I couldn't let it be sold in its current condition.

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We have done a LOT of repair work on this car in the past year, to the point where I can sell this without shame to anyone. All of the leaks, broken parts, and dash lights have been fixed. I had made the worst mistake on this car when buying it - finding an example that needed too many exterior and interior repairs and with an odometer showing nearly 200K miles. No matter how nice we made it, at this point we would be losing money when we went to sell it - due to the mileage and dollars spent.

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To make the sale easier and net the most of our investment back I made the call to fix a lot of little interior and exterior issues. First up were the interior A-pillar coverings, which are almost always trashed on BMWs of this era.

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Some previous owner had tried a half-assed repair by gluing the fabric back to the A-pillar covers, but instead they smeared glue all over the windshield and their dirty paw prints all over the fabric. Looked terrible. Brad got the old A-pillars off, removed all of the glue overspray, and installed gray panels sourced new from BMW.

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He cleaned up the door panels making them look good as new. The broken sunroof was manually wound down and sealed shut, permanently. No more chances of leaks when it rained. The sunroof mechanism ALWAYS breaks on the E46 chassis, given enough time, so at least now it is fully closed.

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The leather rear seats were cleaned and conditioned. The matching black leather front seats (swapped in from the 330) were also cleaned and oiled. The trunk interior was shampoo'd and detailed.

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The factory leather cover was literally falling off the steering wheel, and it stuck out like a sore thumb. I spent too much time investigated the many options to have this wheel replaced or recovered. These ranged from as little as $10 (cheap slip-on cover) to as much as $400 (professionally die cut, stitched and installed leather cover). I briefly thought about a $150 kit that we could custom order and install in the shop, but after reading about horror stories of 10+ hours being burned trying to get it stretched, fitted, and stitched - and potentially still looking like crap - I hesitated.

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Time is money and even with a $150 "DIY" custom-cut wheel cover, that had to be stitched on and fitted, I couldn't afford to tie up my crew or myself putting one of these on. The return was too low. So I went with a $21 leather cover that goes over just the outer 3/4 rim of the wheel. They come in a number of colors and diameter ranges, and I got the closest one that matched this car. It looks better than the dilapidated factory cover, for sure, and it went on easily. Does it look factory? No. You still get what you pay for, but at least it wasn't falling off now.

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If you remember why we call this car "Jack Daniels" it was because it had a number of "whiskey dents" on the exterior when we bought it. We were buying it for a race car and had intended to always fix the dings during a paint job down the road. Well our newest tech, Donnie, has a twin brother, Kris, that does PDR work. So when he had a break in his schedule (a rainy day) he popped over to our shop to remove some dents from Jack Daniels. The dents in the left rear fender were fairly significant but they are now GONE.

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He took out 90% of the dents on this car in a day, and the results were quite amazing. The hail dings in the roof and trunk were easy, but I simply couldn't get over how well he removed previous crash damaged to the left rear fender (completely gone) and the huge vertical crease in the driver's door (mostly gone).

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I had always assumed we would have to replace the hood, as the front corner was caved in and the leading edge had a big dent in it. Kris got the dents out of there, too. Amazing.

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There were some scratches along the sides we couldn't do much about, but two chunks of missing paint on the hood now became the biggest focal point on the car. We had some BMW paint code matching spray paint cans on hand to paint the front headlight trim (and later the upper trunk handle) but it wasn't a good match for these two spots on the hood. Even with hours of blending, wet sanding, and clear coat application they just don't match. Probably because the hood had been resprayed in the past in a slightly lighter shade by a hack paint shop. Oh well - at least these spots won't rust.

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The old window tint was purple, bubbled and just terrible. I asked Donnie to remove all of that from the side and rear windows. Then we cleaned up and polished the glass, and the car looked even better. Lastly the rear trunk release handle broke off. It happens all too often on E46 BMWs. Its a plastic / fiberglass piece that bolts to the trunk, but if you pull up on the trunk lid when the trunk release doesn't pop correctly (common) it flexes the threaded holes in the structure. Over enough time it breaks clean off (above right). We purchased a new piece from BMW, painted the exterior with our paint code matched spray can and clear, and bolted it on. Now it looks like as good as new.

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The best upgrade was the wheel and tire swap. Off came that fugly Foose wheels for good. After some musical chairs with wheels on the 330, these split 5-spoke "Coupe wheels" were bolted onto the 325 here. This was because the 17x8 E46 "sedan wheels" we borrowed from the 328i were the only E46 17" wheels that cleared Powerbrakes on the 330. So the 325 benefited with the best looking set of street wheels we had on hand for an E46.

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It was about $500 in PDR repairs and $200 in interior and trunk handle parts from BMW, plus more hours of cleaning and installation than I want to admit. I'm happy with the final results of this final round of "beautification" on the 325Ci. The dents and dings are gone, save one small ding in the passenger door and a hint of the crease in the driver's door, both of which would required the window motor mechanisms to be removed to get access to repair them.

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Now I wouldn't be ashamed to sell this car, and if someone offered me $5,000 for this car... well I'd be losing close to $2000 - we just spent too much on the car, repair parts, updates, and hours on this 200K mile BMW. It drives perfectly now, has up-sized 330 front brakes, we fixed ALL of the issues and dash lights, it has some bushing upgrades to troublesome areas, and the wheel and tires are spot on. The the interior and exterior look loads better than they should for a car of this age and mileage.

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Amy was content to daily drive Jack Daniels and did so all summer, while I pondered the next steps on the 330 and what to do with the 325. Then she got a wild hair and found the 2013 Scion FR-S above for barely five figures. Due to some development needs for other projects that revolve around the BRZ/FR-S (86) chassis, she bought it and now daily drives that instead.

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BUT... there is a pretty aggressive development schedule for this car over the coming winter, including another Powerbrake front big brake install (already installed and shown above), LS3 engine swap, 315mm tires and wide body, and a massive round of suspension products we want to design/build/test/install. That means that good old Jack Daniels might stick around for a few more months until this FR-S is back in one piece.

BRIEF GLIMPSE OF '99 328i TRACK RAT

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I have mentioned this 328i sedan before and it has undergone a lot of work over the summer, but I will talk more about this one when it is complete and ready to sell.

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We have done the full rear subframe reinforcement, Powerflex bushings everywhere, new Febi-Bilstein control arms, Jongbloed wheels, Kirk 4-point roll bar, and brand new racing seats - including this Sparco Circuit II on a slick Cobra locking slider.

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We have also installed a Kirk 4-point roll bar, a pair of new Schroth Profi-II 6-point harnesses, built custom aluminum door panels, and are making a pair of aluminum false floor panels. Then we will replace the cooling system and exhaust. The goal is to make someone a good "track rat" that still had roll-up windows and AC. I will show this in more detail in my next post.

SUSPENSION UPGRADES TO RED 330

If you have been reading my build threads over the past 12 years you may have seen the theme in them all - we install a lot of monotube adjustable dampers. We spent a lot of years (2005-2012) using AST and Moton products, then migrated more to Bilstein in 2011 and MCS a year later.

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Bilstein PSS with included (soft) springs

We knew there would be performance limits that this car would reach on the Bilstein PSS dampers but didn't foresee how much roll and dive the included springs (above) would produce on the "little" 245mm Hoosier R7. It felt like the car was going to bicycle on me, it just had so damn much lean. We ran it like this at the January Club Trials and NASA MSR-H events, and quickly moved to firmer spring rates.

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Bilstein PSS with 350F/450 rear Hyperco spring rates

When Jon and I both drove the 330 at the NASA event at MSR-Cresson in MArch, with the significantly stiffer springs, it STILL had too much roll. We had hoped the larger diameter Whiteline swaybars would arrive in time to test this modified Bilstein setup with those, to help dial out some of the roll at least. The dive would still be there, though. Unfortunately there was a delay on getting the swaybars that we ordered in January, and they didn't both arrive until September. By then we had put on the MCS doubles.

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I felt that the non-adjustable PSS dampers were at their limit with the upgraded Hyperco springs and the 350#/in front and 450 #/in rear rates. We street drove it on these springs, and while I thought it was too firm, Amy, Jon and Jason felt like it was still more than adequate for street use. So we will indeed offer this PSS kit with this Hyperco spring package (see above) for dual-purpose use (street/track) for a budget minded E46 3 series. This is an alternative to the Motorsports level dampers we us on competition cars.

continued below

Last edited by Vorshlag-Fair; 10-25-2016 at 07:45 PM.
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Old 10-25-2016, 07:36 PM   #23
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continued from above

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After 3 events in this car with "limited success" in NASA TTD, it was time to step it up to proper spring rates and Motorsport dampers to tame them. MCS makes four shock kit offerings for the BMW E46, including (what we have named) the: TT1, TT2, RR2 and RR3 offerings. These are names we use to refer to their "1 way non remote" (TT1), 3 way adjustables with Remote Reservoirs (RR3), etc. The nomenclature "TT" came from the fact that NASA Time Trial letter classes penalize remote reservoir shocks, so these "non-remotes" are ideal for Time Trial, hence TT1 and TT2.

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After carefully weighing the costs, class points, and performance potential of this car, we selected the TT2, double adjustables without remotes. Unlike the AST 4200 we helped develop back in 2008, which had a knob on top for rebound and a knob on the bottom for compression, these TT2 dampers have a single "2 step" knob on the top of the dampers. Push the knob down and you adjust Rebound. Press the center pin and the knob pops up, then you can adjust Compression. It is a novel idea and it works very well and there is no "cross talk" between the two settings.

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The crew pulled the entire Vorshlag/Hyperco/Bilstein suspension off and installed that on the E46 328i sedan. That meant we needed to build another set of camber plates, shock mounts, and ride height adjusters. Then they installed the TT2s with Hyperco springs in 600#/in front and 750 #/in rear rates - nearly doubling again the modified rates used on the Bilstein PSS shocks.

How do we get to these spring rates? It has a lot to do with the tire width and compound used, and of course is based on a decade+ of testing with various BMWs - including previous E46 330 TTD builds (like the blue car below).

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I drove the car on the street a few times on the street tires with the new MCS setup, dialed in the knobs for street use, and it didn't ride half bad. This is about as extreme as I like to go on a daily driven car, but it is live-able with a proper street tire.

WHEEL MATERIALS, FATIGUE LIFE, AND INSPECTIONS

One pre-race ritual that I always insist we always do on our shop race cars is: remove, clean, and inspect a car's race wheels. With the wheels off the car, the inner barrel and spokes can be properly cleaned of tire klag and brake dust, then the inner spokes can be inspected visually for cracks. Once you see a cracked spoke, that wheel is done, and the others from the same set are suspect. Given a long enough timeline ALL ALUMINUM WHEELS FAIL, too.

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You cannot spend your way out of this inescapable fact. Lighter weight aluminum wheels used for racing see higher loads (from both racing tires & brakes) and more impacts (FIA curbs, offs) so they tend to have a shorter lifespan than heavier, OEM aluminum wheels used only on the street. When we brag about losing 5-10 pounds per corner after fitting wider racing wheels, we do so knowing that this will likely shorten the life of the lighter racing wheel vs the heavy/narrower OEM wheels.

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If we didn't care about weight we could use heavier aluminum wheels, or even wheels made of titanium or steel, and see a longer lifespan. These two unusual metal alloys for wheels have higher fatigue or endurance limits than aluminum alloys. In certain cases, titanium and steel can have an infinite endurance limit. These are the only two metals where this applies, and only when the loads never exceed a certain level (the flat line in the graph above). I learned about this curious characteristic of steel and titanium when getting my engineering degree, but you can learn more here.

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Our GRM Challenge E30 V8 car used a steel 15x10" wheel for costs reasons

OEMs have used steel wheels on automobiles and trucks for nearly 100 years, due to their low costs, ease of manufacture, and very long lifespans. If they are made to resist corrosion, and designed so that the loads stay below their endurance limit, they could last forever. Yes, these metals can be built to withstand an infinite number of cycles.

Why don't we see more Titanium or Steel racing wheels? Well for one, Titanium is very hard to produce (costly), weld, and even cast. Steel is cheap to produce and welds easily (most steel wheels are welded), but it corrodes badly (has to be 100% painted or plated), and has triple the density of aluminum. Aluminum alloys are lighter and have half the bending strength of steel, so for the same weight wheel they are actually stronger (1/3 the density but 1/2 the bending strength). And aluminum is easy to cast (1300F melting point vs 2900F), can be heat treated to improve strength further, and resist corrosion in raw form. Magnesium is even less dense than aluminum, and can have a higher strength-to-weight ratio, but this material is VERY hard to weld and can burn at very high temperatures in a fire. Magnesium can even burn under water...

I have purchased steel race wheels for exactly one race car in the past 3 decades, and that was done simply for cost reasons. The set of inexpensive 15x10" steel Aero Racing Wheels (chrome plated wheels shown above) came from the world of circle track racers, where there are options for all budget levels.

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This GRM Challenge BMW was also built around a wider and larger diameter, yet lighter, 18x11" CCW 3-piece aluminum wheel

We built our entire "GRM $2010 Challenge" race car around this $200 set of wheels, but also had a set of proper 18x11" 3-piece aluminum CCW wheels. We put the 18" wheels on for testing and NASA TT use, and then these went on for good after the 2010 and 2011 GRM events were completed. The steelies were heavier but they were made as light as any steel racing wheel gets, and they still bend somewhat easily. If steel wheels are built to last a long time, like most OEM steel wheels, they become pretty heavy.

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Carbon Shelby GT350R 1911 front wheel ($4,174.93 each) and 1911.5 rear wheels ($3,536.33 each) ain't cheap!

And before you say "What about carbon fiber wheels?!" there are several downsides to that material for wheel use. First is cost - the prices above are for an OEM carbon wheel made in large volumes. We recently weighed the carbon wheel and tire combo from a Shelby GT350R, and they were still slightly heavier than our typical S550 Mustang aluminum racing wheel and tire offerings. The costs are more than 10 times as much, too. This 20x10.5" set of carbon GTR wheels is $15,760 and they aren't much lighter, either. So for now, until there is a big shift in material technologies, we're in an aluminum wheel world....

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Does your car have R-compounds or racing slicks? Lots of aero load? Your wheels have a lower lifespan

We have been using and abusing Forgestar wheels since 2012, as well as D-Force (since 2007), Enkei (since long before that), CCW and other brands. We have beat on the Forgestar wheels mercilessly, using them with big aero and 345mm Hoosier A7 levels of grip, and have only seen 2 failures on Forgestar wheels - once when my wife side-swiped an FIA curb going sideways at 100 mph, and the other when I crashed at 155mph in the Mustang above. In both cases the wheel deformed properly and soaked up large amounts of force before seeing permanent plastic deformation.

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Do you use the curbing? Go off track a lot? Your wheels have a lower lifespan

The only time we tend to see multiple spoke fractures (aka: complete wheel failure) on any brand of aluminum wheel is when a user woefully ignores the signs of age, abuse and wear on their wheels. We have seen similar failures on virtually any brand of wheel you can name. If you dig deep enough, there is usually a root cause for each failure, too.

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Inspecting your wheels for fatigue cracks keeps you from having a catastrophic wheel failure. This one looks perfect

Fatigue cracks in spokes always seem to show up before the wheel fails. The signs are still visible AFTER failure, if the wheels are inspected properly. The "age" of a crack is evidenced by the discoloration of corrosion (the thin aluminum oxide layer that forms on raw aluminum exposed to water and oxygen) on the surface of the break. When old cracks are ignored, they propagate over time and lead to complete spoke failure. Once one spoke goes the rest soon follow, sometimes within just minutes of use. I have walked the pits and more than once pointed out a broken wheel spoke to racers in the past - its an easy thing to overlook. A total wheel failure is not a fun thing to see the results of on a race car, either.

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Luckily in 29 years of racing I have not had a wheel failure, but that's probably because I always WASH AND INSPECT MY WHEELS BEFORE EVERY RACE. I have caught fatigue cracks in spokes on several sets of wheels before they failed (not a Forgestar set, yet). I'm also not in the habit of jumping curbs, crashing through the infield, or ignores what these higher impact loads are doing to my wheels.

Just please take this advice to heart - no matter what wheel brand of wheel you use, please: remove, wash and inspect your race wheels regularly. Just like you inspect the brake pad depth, rotor condition, fluid levels/condition, and the other critical systems on your car before every outing, do the same for your wheels.

Also please don't be fooled by troll posts, internet pictures with no background, and fanboi hype - NO brand of aluminum race wheels is immune to fatigue limits or crash impacts, and nothing is going to last forever. Clean and inspect your wheels regularly, with your focus on the INSIDE of the wheel spokes, near their junctions to the hubs and barrel. Stay one step ahead of the fatigue life of your wheels, knowing that they have a finite lifespan and are a consumable product on all racing cars. Buying used wheels is a total crap shoot, for this very reason. If you see a crack in any wheel, DESTROY at least one spoke completely and THROW THE WHEEL AWAY, so nobody rummages through your metal recycle pile to re-use a failed wheel.

OTHER WORK PRIOR TO NASA IN APRIL

OK, I will put my soap box away now. ;) One other small upgrade that was done at the same time as the MCS install was to custom fabricate and aluminum dead pedal shown above. It was needed. Why? We had been bracing ourselves into the seat (no harnesses yet) under braking during the first 3 events and the cracked plastic OEM piece had simply shattered. It was gone, but we still needed a place to push back into the seat.

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Yes, this method of dead pedal "pushback" is a janky as hell, and no replacement for proper 6-point racing harnesses that hold your body into the racing seat under braking properly. Again, we are always strapped for time on our own race cars. "Do what I say, not what I do."

Click the image to open in full size.

While I do recommend OEM 3-point retractable seatbelts be used on the street with a fixed back racing seat, you should have 5-, 6- or 7-point FIA approved racing harnesses installed for track use with race seats. But if you are in a pinch and have to use a 3-point OEM belt on a racing seat, please route the belts as shown above (through the lap belt openings). This puts the load of the lap belt onto the hip bones and not higher, digging into your abdomen and the soft bits in an impact.

Click the image to open in full size.
This is why 4-point harnesses are no longer allowed in HPDE - they ride up into your gut!

What we have in our 330 now (3-point OEM belts and racing seats) Its not ideal, but it is better than the stock seats. We will add proper 6-point Schroth harnesses soon, but for now this is the safest alternative. Its a damn sight better on track than the OEM seats, or the 4-point belts I see people try to use - like the image above. Names have been changed to protect the innocent...

Click the image to open in full size.
4 point roll bar added to our 99 328i E46 sedan. We will do something more substantial in the 330

We installed this Kirk 4-point roll bar above into our 1999 E46 328i sedan we are building for a "track rat". That 4-point bar fits well, and makes for a great place to hang harnesses as well as proving rollover protection. Still, I would rather see our crew build something more substantial for our "daily driven track car" E46 330. The time it takes to build a cage (60+ hours) just hasn't been available to tackle this all summer, so we're "riding dirty" with one racing seat and the OEM belts on the 330 for now.

continued below
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Old 10-25-2016, 07:38 PM   #24
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continued from above

NASA AT TWS (CCW) APRIL 23-24, 2016

I've raced in 12 events in 8 different cars since my last post in this thread, and its difficult for me to keep track of them all. Normally I take audio notes after each event, plus capture hundreds of pictures and videos that are recorded, edited, sorted, and stored on our smugmug site after each event. So I am going back now to April to cover the NASA event... and my audio notes are missing.

Click the image to open in full size.

That means I am gonna wing it 6 months later. This ended up being THE worst finish I've ever had in 11 years of NASA TT racing, so these were not fond memories. We share the good with the bad here, and I learned some lessons that I won't soon forget. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes.

Click the image to open in full size.

Event picture and video gallery: https://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-...W-April-23-24/

After taking the TTC classed Corvette to the paint shop for a total respray inside and out, both Amy and I had to share driving duties the BMW 330Ci for this NASA race weekend. At least we could use the enclosed trailer to haul the BMW down, instead of Amy driving it the 3+ hours to College Station, TX, on the street tires.

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

The weather was nice and we were told this was the "Last Ever" TWS race weekend with NASA, but we had heard that several times before. It seems like this facility might not be getting demolished and turned into hundreds of homes like the track owners keep speculating - they keep opening up event scheduling, 6 months at a time.

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

We arrived at the track late on Friday afternoon, which meant all of the paved paddock spaces were long gone. These multiple "last ever" event announcements do bring out the racers, and 250+ HPDE, TT and W2W competitors arrived to try to set the "final" class lap records for this track. We were set to run the 2.9 mile road course Counter Clock Wise (and would do so again in October, when yet another "last ever" date opened up for NASA).

We parked the trailer "on the beach", a sandy section underneath the 48 year old TWS sign - a sign that looks like at any moment it is going to fall down (time has taken its toll on some of the facilities here). Driving only one car meant I could concentrate more on the TTD E46, but that didn't help much with the times I saw.

This event had a remarkable turnout overall, and even TTD class had 6 cars entered, most of whom signed up just days before the event. That gave me false hopes of maybe winning some tires in TTD - boy was I wrong!

Click the image to open in full size.
Amy running the 330 in HPDE 3/4 group, which was also very crowded

We had 49 cars run in the TT run group this weekend, which made for some serious traffic on track. I ran first in the Saturday "TT warm up" (where times don't count for anything but grid positioning in the next session) and I was slow as hell. My best time was dead last of all of the TTD cars with a 2:05.824. Vinnie was here in his TTD FR-S and was a full second ahead of me, and several TTD Miatas were in the 2:01 to 2:04 range. This was the beginning of a rough weekend and I gridded up for the first timed TT session in 32nd place. What the hell?!

Click the image to open in full size.

Being that far back meant that I fought with traffic all day - as I've said before, its harder to get a clear lap in a slow car. In three sessions I could only find about a second and ended up with a 2:04.743 best after 4 sessions. Maybe this car is just too heavy and under-powered for this FAST track layout like TWS? I thought that I couldn't just "drive my way around" the lack of prep in this car, like we did at the MSR-H and MSR-C NASA events earlier. Didn't happen.

Click the image to open in full size.
End of day Saturday TT results - click for higher rez

By the end of the day I was ranked 5th out of 6 in TTD and my best time was almost 6 seconds back from the class winner, who ran a 1:58.871 in a TTD Miata and smashed the old TTD track record of 2:01.3, set by one of our customer's TTD FR-S the year before. I can honestly say this is the worst beating I've ever taken in 11 years of racing with NASA Time Trial. I began to question the sanity of running this car and continuing development!

Click the image to open in full size.

With Amy double-driving the car in HPDE3/4 I didn't have time to really look deeply into any obvious clues to the handling woes, and blamed it all on "lack of horsepower" and a new suspension setup. She was even further off my pace and kept complaining about a lack of grip. I told her that she was wrong, it had to be setup or power related. I adjusted the shock settings but never touched the tire pressures after they had been bled to "what we knew worked" after the first 2 sessions on track. We just kept the fuel level up, checked the oil and brake fluids, and kept the car on track for session after session.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
Amy was pushing it but the body roll was massive - the 330 needed bigger swaybars

So even with the big upgrade to MCS doubles and doubling the spring rate, I was fighting the car and slower relative to the competition. That should not be! I have re-watched some of my videos and the car was understeering on entry and oversteering on corner exit. Nothing made sense at the time. It was just.... garbage.

Click the image to open in full size.

The car felt like it still had too much body roll, and after seeing the great mid-corner pictures taken by MohFlo (that we purchased) it is obvious that we badly did need the upgraded swaybars. But that didn't account for how slow the cornering speeds were or how badly the tires felt. I was missing something.

Click the image to open in full size.

With the long front and back straights we were well into 5th gear but still getting passed by everything. I was short-shifting in all gears at 5000 rpms, because we still had not done the necessary SFI balancer and oil pump + oil pan mods that I knew from experience the M54 engine needed. I'll be damned if I scatter this motor while going this slowly. That extra 1000 rpms we were leaving on the table was hurting us, for sure. And we were still 150 pounds overweight for the class minimum, which also slowed us down.

Click the image to open in full size.

Sunday was a new race and and I was determined to go faster. The first TT session on Sunday is almost always my fastest session of any NASA weekend and I hoped I will find a second or two and at least get closer to these TTD hot shoes...

Click the image to open in full size.

Wrong. While the car was quickest all day in this first Sunday session, my time was a FULL SECOND SLOWER than Saturday's best with a 2:05.752 best. That's what I ran in the warm up, WTH?

Click the image to open in full size.

I was disgusted with the car but kept trying to wring more out of it, yet I kept getting slower. My best time in TT session 2 was another two seconds slower, with a 2:07.594, yet I was pushing the car harder. I felt like I was wringing all of the time out, and sliding around like a wild man looking for grip. A quick glance at the front tires showed they still had usable tread life.

Click the image to open in full size.
End of day Sunday TT results - click for higher rez

I was dead last in TTD on Sunday, as one of the Saturday entrants didn't run. After Amy went out and only took a few laps, I told her we had to park this mess and stop driving it, as the car's times were tanking. Bitterly disappointed in the performance. We had no place to jack the car up on all 4s to get a better look, so we put it in the trailer and decided to investigate this issue later.

Click the image to open in full size.

We would have to get the car back to the shop to analyze what was slowing the car down the more we drove it. The power felt the same all weekend but the grip just kept falling off, especially at the rear.

SO WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM?

Well duh.... the tires were completely shot!

Click the image to open in full size.

These are the rear tires that came off after TWS. Not just worn a bit too far or maybe heat cycled out, but worn into the steel belts. Wow, I really goofed that up. The entire weekend was a waste of time because we violated the cardinal rule of racing: we showed up with junk tires!

They were worn across the tread pretty solid but moreso on the inside shoulders, which was really hard to see when the wheels are mounted to the car. That's no excuse, and yes I should have looked closer. We were parked on the beach, double-driving the car, and I was swamped with people coming by all weekend, so it was simply overlooked. I messed up.

Click the image to open in full size.
This set of tires was new in January 2015, on our C4 Corvette...

I had neglected to track just how many days of racing we had put on this set of tires. This set had done 2 weekends on the TTC Corvette (pictured above when new) then 4 more weekends on this TTD BMW. But several of those TTD weekends had 2 drivers in the BMW, so let's add them up now.

NASA at MSR-Houston CW, Jan 17-18, 2015 - TTC Corvette (2 days)
NASA at MSR-Cresson, March 14-15, 2015 - TTC Corvette (2 days)
NASA at MSR-Houston (CW) Jan 23-24, 2016 (2 days + 2 drivers)
Texas Region SCCA Club Trials, MSR-Cresson, Jan 16, 2016 (1 day)
NASA at MSR-Cresson March 12-13, 2016 - TTD BMW (2 days + 2 drivers)
NASA at TWS (CCW) April 23-24, 2016 (2 days + 2 drivers)

That was a total of 19 days of track driving on the same set of R7s??? And probably 60-70 heat cycles. Damn, how did I miss that? That's way beyond what you can expect even the R7 compound Hoosier to last. These 245s were also a tad small for both the weight of the Corvette (3203 pounds) and the BMW (3285 pounds) they were run on, which increases tire wear further.

Click the image to open in full size.

Of course we looked at the tires before this event, and they seemed visually to have enough tread depth left. Sure, I was worried that these tires might be getting heat-cycled out, but just didn't want to blow $1,200 for a fresh set before this April TWS weekend. Since so many were signed up I thought "Maybe I could win a set?" for once, ha! Instead we entered two drivers, wasted a weekend's worth of time and expenses only to be frustrated and slow, and scored my biggest loss in 11 years. Maybe I should have spent that $1200.

Don't forget: TIRES ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT EXPENSE IN RACING.

WHAT'S NEXT?

I have already run too long on this "brief update". How did it delve all the way into metallurgy?? Who knows. After the April event we skipped both of the next two NASA Texas weekends, including the May NOLA and June Hallett events. Just too damned busy at the shop to get to the required updates this car needed before we raced it again.

Click the image to open in full size.

We did a lot of work over the Summer to the red 330 including an entirely new cooling system, repairing some minor leaks and rotted plastics throughout the engine bay. This work definitely avoided a potential disaster on track - some of the old plastic cooling lines were crumbling when removed.

Click the image to open in full size.

We also added the much needed ATI balancer ($$) and VAC oil pump drive and oil pan baffle, so we could safely rev the engine past 5000 rpms. The Whiteline swaybars finally showed up and were installed. Then we took over 250 pounds out of the BMW, which was huge. We detail all of that in pictures, of course. And we finally sprung for a fresh set of R7 Hoosiers.

Click the image to open in full size.

I'll talk about all of that and our triumphant return in the 330 return to TWS at the October NASA Texas event - where we "flipped the script" on the TTD class. Fresh tires make such a difference, but so does lowering weight, safely adding 1000 revs, and having a better suspension setup. We have a track test event at MSR Cresson scheduled in a couple of weeks (to get a baseline lap on the current setup at our preferred test track, before we add power) and if I get through that before writing the next installment I will include it as well.

Until next time,
__________________
Terry Fair - Owner at Vorshlag Motorsports Phone: 972.422.7170
S197 Development Thread + C4 Corvette + 69 Camaro + S550 + more project builds in the Vorshlag Sub-Section
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Project Update for November 12th, 2016: My last update got a little bloated so I wanted to break it up into two parts. This second half of the update shows what we did to the red '01 330Ci Coupe over the Summer of 2016, which was a lot of little things that added up to some big improvements in performance.

Click the image to open in full size.

Once again it went too long so I will cover the return of this car to NASA TTD competition (above) at the Fall 2016 NASA event at Texas World Speedway next time.

SUMMER MODS TO THE RED 330Ci

After the April 2016 NASA event we were super busy at the Vorshlag shop and our 330 build got kicked into the corner. It pained me to miss three NASA Texas weekends, including the May NOLA, June Hallett and another MSR-H event. Just too damned busy get to the required updates this car needed before we could race it again. I refused to risk another event and running at a max 5000 rpm because we had the stock engine balancer and no oil system upgrades.

COOLING SYSTEM UPGRADES - Modern BMWs are known for fragile cooling systems that have to be replaced every 50,000 miles, "or else". What can happen? Some plastic piece usually cracks, you spring a leak, and - if you are not paying attention - you run the car out of coolant, overheat the engine, warp the head, and ruin the engine. I've never done that, but we have run into several BMWs we have owned in the past that "sprung a leak". It was always on a car we neglected to follow the 50K mile cooling system replacement rule.

Click the image to open in full size.

Why do these parts only last 50K miles? Its the motor mounts. Yes, that's what we have determined after 15+ years of futzing with dozens of our own and hundreds of customers' Bimmers. The sloppy hydraulic OEM motor mounts and soft rubber trans mounts allow the engines in BMWs to move around a lot. When the hydraulic motor mounts fail (they break in half) the engine can move inches up and down.

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

This excessive drivetrain movement PULLS on all of the coolant hoses, thermostat housing neck, radiator necks, power steering hoses, and more. All of those pesky items eventually strain and crack, and these leaks are worsened simply by BMWs insistence on using luxurious hydraulic drivetrain mounts. We've already replaced those nasty things with our own Nylon motor mounts (stiff) and red poly trans mounts (95A durometer) - which radically improved shift feel and throttle response, but ALSO helps saves all of your hoses and cooling system bits.

Am I saying BMW is imperfect? Yes I am. I love their cars, but some of the engineering choices baffle me. But that's why company's like mine exist - to make BMWs more track worthy, faster, and more robust.

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

The radiator above is more typical of what we remove from E46 BMWs, and came out of a customer's 2001 330ci. This was a rare "Northern car" (we don't see many rust belt cars in Texas) with the typical salt road crust on every inch of that car. This radiator above was also bent from some sort of front end impact, and I suspect the original radiator in our red 330Ci was likely damaged at some point, but replaced recently because it was in fairly good shape. The unit above had a leak in the core (green evidence) and the plastic end tanks and necks also have a finite lifespan. I love replacing OEM style aluminum/plastic rads with all aluminum core/tank aftermarket units that have a larger core with no plastic to crack.

Click the image to open in full size.

Refreshing the cooling system on our red 330 included a lot of new parts replaced to prevent "old car problem" failures. There were minor leaks and rotted cooling system plastics throughout the engine bay. A BMW E46 uses plastic ends on the radiator hoses, plastic tanks on the radiator, plastic hardlines for the heater core coolant lines, and O-rings in all of these connections and sensor locations.

Click the image to open in full size.
Mishimoto Aluminum Radiator for the 19992006 BMW E46 323i / 325i / 328i / 330i. 40mm, 2-row core

At one point I had explored the idea of using BMW E36 water pump, thermostat housing and radiator, to remove the silly "quick connect" radiator hose ends that the E46 has but it was going to complicate parts selections and require a custom radiator, and we wanted to test the new E46 Mishimoto radiator made specifically for the E46 330.

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

We started with this all aluminum radiator which is about twice the thickness of the factory plastic/aluminum OEM unit. The factory electric fan and shroud were attached to this Mishimoto unit, which is a bolt-in for the non-M E46 chassis. This red 330 we have was formerly hit in the front end, so its no surprise that many of the plastic bits under the hood are smashed. Enough of the old shroud was intact that it could be re-used.

Disclaimer: We sell this brand, and have used dozens of these same units in various BMW, Mustang, Mazda, and Subaru builds, including nearly all of our own shop owned cars. We have had good results and so have our customers, but like all "lower cost" radiator options there are some issues reported online. You can say that about just about any brand, though this brand does come with a lifetime warranty. Yes, I know where these are made, but the similarly priced alternatives come from the same part of the world. This brand's E46 model radiator was heavily re-worked and reintroduced recently as two new part numbers, one for the E46 M3 and another for E46 non-M 6-cylinder cars. We have used this exact unit in a customer's E46 330 and will report on the results from this unit in our TTD car, good news or bad.

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

The wiring for the fan was all sorts of hacked, with both ends of the factory connector missing and the corner where it mounted on the shroud.... gone. Some fool had used 120V WIRE NUTS to connect the body wiring to the fan wiring on our car, and of course that cannot stay. This is large gauge wire and we needed to fix this right.

Click the image to open in full size.

Since we could not find these harness ends from BMW we pulled them from a salvaged E46 wiring harness we had removed from an over-the-top racecar build. Donnie wired in the scavenged BMW connector and it was back in business. You can also see that a new upper radiator support was installed above - the old one was bent from previous crash damage - but these are surprisingly affordable from the aftermarket (sub $90).

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

All of the rest of the smashed and missing plastics surrounding the radiator were replaced with new bits from BMW. This included the main front shroud shown above,which routes air from the lower grill opening or the two upper grill openings. The side plastics which seal the radiator to the radiator support were all replaced as well (most were missing). These keep the air flowing through the radiator instead of around it.

Click the image to open in full size.

The water pump choice was simple - the Stewart pump costs 3-5 times more than the cheap OEM replacements, but its stainless steel impeller and better design make it the best option.

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

When it comes to the thermostat housing the OEM piece is plastic, and you know how I feel about that. There are a dozen aftermarket OEM replacements and some of those are aluminum, so I picked up one of those. As it was being snugged up onto the block, still not even hand tight, the flange snapped right off. Cheap import branded junk bit me again! Even on seemingly simple pieces like a thermostat housing, the cheap brand can still bite you! After that we went with a name brand plastic piece, which worked great. We slipped in a Mishimoto thermostat, too.

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

We tried some silicon radiator hoses but they had some fitment issues that we're still working with the manufacturer on. But whatever you do, replace the old plastic and rubber hoses.

Click the image to open in full size.

We also replaced both of the heater hose hard lines that run under the intake manifold and go from the block to the firewall (see diagram above). Why? Well we have learned the hard way that these don't age well. Just because its a pain to remove the intake manifold to get to these, doesn't mean they should be ignored.

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

People ignore these two plastic lines on the E46 but these should always be replaced when the car has over 100K miles (this one has 163K now!)

Click the image to open in full size.

And lucky for us we caught these before they failed. The old hard lines fell apart as they were unbolted from the flanges at the block - the double O-ringed ends were rotted and broke off in the block. They had to be dug out with a pick. This replacement definitely avoided a potential disaster on track. Remember that - the plastic E46 heater hard lines don't last more than 15 years.

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

With the intake manifold out of the way for access to these plastic heater hoses Donnie noticed that the starter was only being held on with one bolt and that one was very loose. This is our first time to see this part of the engine on the red 330, but we've seen other signs of hack mechanic work in the past. New hardware installed and we will check more when we do the clutch and flywheel later this winter.

BALANCER UPGRADE - I try to learn from my past mistakes, and maybe you can learn from mine as well. Something that bit me on the blue 2001 330Ci we raced in 2009-11 relates to the stock M54 balancer.

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

Frankly the stock balancers aren't great on most engines and given enough time they will fail. The rubber portion that helps the outer ring damp engine vibrations can slip with age, like the unit on our red 330 below. This can create vibrations that can help the oil pump drive nut vibrate loose and come off. Which is very, very bad.

Click the image to open in full size.

Some BMW racers have figured this out and will change the old units out for new OEM units ($400+) regularly. But that's still a questionable part and not a good long term upgrade.

Click the image to open in full size.

There is exactly one proper solution: the ATI balancer above. This unit is SFI rated, rebuildable, and sold exclusively by VAC. Its $900 + $100 more for the A/C pulley, which hurts. But you know what? A loss of oil pressure happened THREE TIMES on my former TTD E46, and I'm not making that same mistake again.

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continued from above

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

We ordered this ATI balancer with the associated drive pulley in the identical OEM diameter (not an under-driven size), to not run afoul of any pulley diameter changes that we don't have the points budget for in TTD.

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

Installing a balancer correctly can be tricky. If done wrong you can rip the threads right out of the end of the crankshaft. Which would be BAD. The best solution we found was to use the ATI balancer installation tool kit shown above (p/n ATI918999) which has various modular, threaded ends for the crank side of the install tool.

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

None of the included ends fit the M54 crank snout, so we had to machine a custom threaded end. Just beware of the claims that this kit is "all you need".

Click the image to open in full size.

The tool works as a longer bolt with a bearing hub to keep the turning portion of the tool from torquing against the crank as it is installed. Really slick, just wish it came with the BMW thread pitch and diameter we needed.

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

Everything that came with the VAC kit was top notch: the balancer, the main pulley and the optional AC pulley. Even the ARP hardware was pro level. I wish we got something better than the OEM crank bolt for $1000, but that's my only quip.

NEW OIL SELECTION - I have been a synthetic oil user since the late 1980s, back before synthetics were cool. I drove cars tens of thousands of miles during an oil test in the early 1990s while working at TWS in college. We saw the results of oil analysis tests done throughout this multi-month test on multiple cars where we racked up 50K miles on each engine. Synthetics work.

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

For a long time I was a faithful synthetic Mobil1 user. For years I have run 15W50 weight Mobil1 in our shop cars and have seen excellent wear over long periods. But our friends at Turbo Lubricants have been sending me test results and data showing the differences in synthetic lubricants. We have been slowly switching all of our cars to Motul engine, transmission and differential fluids. Over the summer we switched the 330 to their new 5W50 Ester based oil. I will report back any differences we notice on this car.

OIL PUMP DRIVE UPGRADE - As I mentioned above, the failure of the oil pump drive is bad. So we also added the VAC oil pump drive upgrade kit (below) so we could safely rev the engine past 5000 rpms.

Click the image to open in full size.

The oil pump driveshaft issue is detailed in this post my old TTD build thread with the potential for having the drive nut come off or when welded, to shear the shaft clean thru. Both of those failures happened to our old E46's first motor, the first failure being shown below.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
Oil pump nut vibrated loose and came off, eating the first set of rod bearings on our blue 2001 330

Basically the VAC design has a stronger driveshaft for the oil pump, a stronger bolt for the sprocket to attach to the shaft, and a sprocket with a different opening to mate to the shaft.

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

At this point the oil pan had to be dropped so the engine was hung from above by using this cross engine brace. We use this tool a lot, actually. With the engine secured the front lower crossmember could be dropped - it hangs on the struts at full droop and gives you about a foot of access under the oil pan.

Click the image to open in full size.

I took the oil pan to be hot tanked, which cleaned it up inside and out. With access to the chain driven oil pump (rolleyes) the old oil pump drive, sprocket and nut were replaced with the VAC bits. We installed those with RED Loctite and torqued to the factory specs. Some people safety wire or even tack weld that in place - we haven't found that necessary.

Click the image to open in full size.

OIL PAN BAFFLE - The stock oil pan has very little internal baffling. This is a concern when high lateral and braking g's are possible in the car (forward acceleration is not much threat, yet). With big cornering grip numbers (1.3g) and braking (similar) possible in this TTD prep level, we wanted to do more to keep the oil pump pickup screen submerged in oil at all times.

Click the image to open in full size.

The oil pan baffle kit, that we also sourced from VAC, includes a drop-in baffle for the stock pan with several "trap door" mechanisms that are routed in such a way as to keep the oil pump pick-up screen submersed in oil even when under hard braking or lateral acceleration. The details above show what is included.

Click the image to open in full size.

Before this kit can be installed you need to have the oil pan off the car, take it somewhere to get it sonic cleaned or "hot tanked", as it must be SPOTLESS inside before TIG welding.

Click the image to open in full size.

Then the unit needs to be fitted to the oil pan, then TIG welded in place. This one required a bit of trimming to one of the trap doors to clear the cast oil pan in one tiny corner. We inspected the oil pump pick-up screen and it was clean and intact, so that was not replaced. It fits down inside the round hole in the baffle and should stay submerged in oil, with the trap doors closing under braking and turning loads. I feel a bit better now that this baffle is installed.

SWAYBARS - The E46 non-M specific swaybars showed up from Whiteline after a bit of a wait (these are made in batches) and were installed by Donnie.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
Left: Whiteline 30mm E46 non-M Adjustable Front Sway Bar. Right: 20 mm Adjustable Rear

Some might question why we took two points for aftermarket swaybars (changing one or both equals +2 points). The amount of body roll is something we couldn't ignore - after looking at pictures of the car loaded in corners it just had too much lean, even with 600#/in front and 750 #/in rear springs. More spring rate would have helped, but again, this is supposed to be the "Daily Driven Track Car", and more spring rate will make it ride worse. We also appreciate the adjustability.

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

We installed the front bar with a pair of new OEM E46 end links, but on the MCS strut (with a lower swaybar mount) we needed a shorter end link. They were touching the control arm with the OEM endlinks installed. I found some old E36 length adjustable/spherical end links laying around that worked well enough. Why did we pick Whiteline bars? For one we are a dealer, but I'm actually ambivalent about swaybar brands - as long as they are bigger than stock and adjustable, I am game. The most important thing is to make sure they are mounted properly.

Click the image to open in full size.

What we tend to see is when aftermarket swaybars are added, they come with poly bushings that are too tight. When installed, these tight bushings cause massive binding no matter what brand you start with. So we go to the extra effort of trimming the bushings and fitting it to the swaybar so that it rotates with "pinkie finger effort". Then we drill into the swaybar bushing shells and through the entire bushing, then tap the shells for a grease zerk. Twice yearly grease addition to these bushings keeps them from binding further and squeaking. This way the swaybar car rotate freely within the mounts and the twist of the entire bar is what resists roll, as designed.

continued below
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Old 11-14-2016, 04:54 PM   #27
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continued from above

WEIGHT LOSS GAMES - Anyone reading my forum posts for years knows how important losing weight on a car is to me. So THE most important modification to this E46 over the 2016 Summer was where we dropped over 250 pounds out of this car. We had been running the car +150 pounds over minimum weight (3285 pounds is the E46 330 minimum with driver) all year, and that was hurting the car in all vectors - forward acceleration, braking, and later acceleration. We detail all of that in pictures, of course.

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

This was done in many small steps, none of which really impacted the daily driver status nor ran afoul of the TTD rules/points. The fold-down back seats, headliner, and rear seat belts/brackets totaled 63.8 pounds.

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

Brad found an old abandoned rat's nest under the rear deck cover - gross! The rear deck is now just painted steel, which we could cut out for more weight loss but will hold off for now, until we see where this gets us.

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

We wanted to get the car as light as possible for TWS so we ran without the passenger seat, which is shown being weighed above at 64.8 pounds. This is a typical BMW power seat weight, and was actually out of the 325is (we took the identical but nicer condition black leather units from this 330 and swapped them into JackDaniels a while ago). We also removed a lot of junk from the trunk.

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

The CD changer didn't work so it was removed, but the radio is still functional so the factory amp was kept intact. The elaborate bracket that held the amp & CD changer was trimmed down considerably, and the factory sub-woofer speaker assembly was removed. The brackets, sub-woofer and rear speakers totaled 10.4 pounds, but the front speakers were left in place and the radio still sounds fine.

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

The factory installs a massive trunk mounted battery in the E46 cars, but it is overkill for track and even street use. We went with a 14 pound Odyssey PC680 AGM style battery and an aluminum battery bracket kit sized to fit this unit.

Click the image to open in full size.

We picked up this 680 sized bracket for about $125 and I detail the installation of the battery and bracket in this instruction gallery. I did this battery and mount swap at home with simple tools in about 45 minutes. This change lopped about 30 pounds out of the car.

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

One of the biggest and most important areas where we removed weight was the retractable power sunroof delete. The BMW E46 sunroof cassette weighs a staggering 72.0 pounds, which was more than I remembered from doing a roof swap on an E46 before.

Click the image to open in full size.

We asked AJ Hartman to make us a carbon fiber sunroof delete panel, which he did for us over the summer (and we bought a couple of them). The fit and finish was exceptional and the finished, 100% dry carbon panel weighed in at 1.5 pounds.

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

Brad and Donnie installed this unit and it fits perfectly. A thin layer of black RTV went on the perimeter of the panel to seal it to the roof and there were bolt holes to attach it to the factory sunroof mounting holes as well.

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

We could have purchased a non-sunroof headliner to replace the old unit, but they are a little spendy. If we can live without back seats, the headliner can be left out as well. Very slick, easy, and water-tight solution to lose 70.5 pounds out of the roof AND gain several inches of headroom.

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

With the driver's side Cobra seat mounted very low like we have, the center console flip down arm rest runs into my arm when shifting. We could have just unbolted the arm rest, but I have done these arm-rest delete consoles before and it looks cleaner. This is a BMW option from the factory and still available from a BMW dealer. The plastic console was purchased along with the alternate mounting bracket and it was installed.

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

The interior is now "lightened" but all of the interior panels, air bags, and carpet are still there - just the back seat, passenger seat, and headliner are missing. I don't like having the giant opening to the trunk, as this allows a lot of noise into the cabin. We will make a rear bulkhead panel soon, after we decide if we are going to build a full roll cage or just a 4-point roll bar for this car.

Click the image to open in full size.

The 2961 pound weight above is with plenty of fuel, so add in my ~200 pound ass and we're at about 3165. This means we are running about (3285 - 3165) 120 pounds under the minimum weight. We can do that legally if we burn some class points, which I will detail next time in my TWS write-up. After rolling the car out for the picture above we noticed that the rear was sitting high - lowering weight alters ride height, duh. So we brought the car in and did a quick ride height check and corner balance. Then it went into the trailer for our tow to TWS.

FRESH TIRES - Before the October TWS event we finally sprung for a fresh set of R7 Hoosiers.

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

Like I said last time, tires are the MOST important expense in racing, but I neglected keeping track of the number of heat cycles and days on this car's last set. Our last two events were run on tires not fit for even HPDE use, and that's on me.

Click the image to open in full size.

After all of the changes and weight loss and we had this new sticker set of Hoosier R7s mounted on our 17x10" Forgestar wheels. The car was light, the engine more reliable, the cooling system replaced, and the suspension dialed in like never before. We were finally ready for TWS.

WHAT'S NEXT?

This write-up once again ran long so I will cover the TWS event and discuss the entire season's results next time.

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

I will also cover some post-TWS upgrades we did to the 330, including adding a Sparco EVO II passenger seat, installing some new rear bushings, getting an alignment check, and fixing a small failure that happened at the end of the last session at the October NASA event. We also went back to MSR-Cresson for a test day on November 10th where this car dropped a large chunk of lap time since our March event, with the only changes being suspension (MCS coilovers + more spring rate + Whiteline bars) and weight loss. Until next time...

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S197 Development Thread + C4 Corvette + 69 Camaro + S550 + more project builds in the Vorshlag Sub-Section
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Old 11-23-2016, 04:58 PM   #28
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Project Update for November 23th, 2016: The last post in this development thread showed our "summer mods" to the red E46 330, which were somewhat extensive. During that phase we replaced and upgraded the entire cooling system (except one part), added an SFI rated balancer, improved the oiling system reliability, added swaybars, fresh tires, and dropped another 250 pounds from this 330. We were finally ready in October to go back to TWS to race with NASA again, hoping to fight back after the drumming we took in April at this same track.

Click the image to open in full size.

We will cover that race write-up, the repairs and upgrades we did after that event. Then cover our TTD prep "points budget" for 2017, where we will reveal our continually changing upgrade path for this car. The bulk of these changes are planned for the short winter break we have before our 2017 NASA season starts in late January. We have several track tests planned before then, and we cover the first of those tests where we went back to MSR-Cresson (our main test track in 2016) in November to get an updated lap time with the latest setup, after running here with NASA back in March.

POST-SUMMER MODS TTD CLASSING / POINTS LIST

Before we get to the October race coverage, let's show how we classed the car 130 pounds under minimum weight for this one event - legally. I'm gonna nerd out on the TT rules bit here, so if that bores you, just skip below. Some folks do like reading about the intricacies and interrelated nature of NASA Time Trial rules in our posts, where we try to explain the clearest path to a given build's TT goals. Sometimes you have two do 3 layers of calculations to figure out your car's class limits.

As I have gone over in this and many other threads, NASA TT-Letter class cars all get a "base classing" which shows which class they start in as well as the minimum weight they are assigned. This weight number has little to do with the actual weights of a car, but is an assigned number for a given model based on where the rules maker thinks it needs to be for competition reasons. And they can change. Every year. Anything printed in the current rules shown in blue text is an update from last year. #FontColorsMatter

Click the image to open in full size.

The "Base Trim Model" 01-06 BMW 330 (non-ZHP) has a base class of TTE* and a min weight of 3285 pounds. This means our measured race weight (with fuel, safety gear, and driver) should be no lower than 3285 pounds. Some cars get "weight added" in the classing sheets to slow them down - the FR-Z/BRZ had 100 pounds added to their min weight in 2014, and another 100 pounds in 2015, and our C4 Corvette had weight added in 2016.

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

As you can see from our beginning (left) and current (right) weights we have dropped this 2001 BMW 330Ci from 3180 pounds (no driver + virtually no fuel) down to 2960 pounds (no driver + about 10 gallons of fuel). So we have dropped 220 pounds + have about 60 more pounds of fuel on board in the current pic, so really we've dropped closer to 280 pounds out of the car. This is why we post images of weights showing fuel levels.

Most weight loss modifications are legal in TT-Letter (there are exceptions - subframes, engine components, etc), as long as you account for the final weight below the class minimum in your final declared race weight. Adding the heaviest driver from our Team Vorshlag entries (of the 3 registered this year) bumps that 2960 pound weight above by 210 pounds (me) and gets us to around 3170 pounds minimum race weight. We won't run any less fuel load than what is shown for fear of fuel starving in turns - in some of corners we're seeing over 1.7 g lateral now (in banked corners; see video below).

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
Left: The weight box we built into our TTC Corvette. Right: Your car can be weighed after any session, and it often is if you are fast

To meet the 3285 class minimum weight we should be adding 115 pounds of ballast, which has to be secured a certain way. Normally you add a little bit more weight than absolute minimum, to "be safe" from the scale. I've seen people bounced for being 5 pounds under their stated min weight, which can happen if you don't keep an eye on fuel levels or if the scale is flaky one day (something as simple as the wind can change your car's weight - yes, literally the wind. Seen it happen). In over ten years I've had maybe two sessions DSQ'd after being weighed below my declared weight, but it is rare - we usually run at least 25 pounds over our declared minimum weight, just to be safe.

Click the image to open in full size.

NASA allows us to race under the "classed minimum weight" legally, but "running light" hurts your car's competitiveness in THREE ways. First, you have to burn "class mod points" for every increment you declare under the base classed minimum (see chart above). Since we currently had points to spare for TTD class legality we could run at our measured 115 pounds weight under 3285 for only 9 mod points. That's the first way you lose competitiveness running under min weight - the pounds come off at the expense of mod points, and its EXPENSIVE: one point for every 15 pounds. Ouch!

Click the image to open in full size.

For much of the 2016 season we declared the assigned 3285 minimum but ran much heavier than that. Our adjusted P-to-W ratio is 13.45:1. I've covered that calculation before: TTD has a P-to-W of 14.25 but we get a -0.8 bonus for running a 245mm tire (see Appendix B chart above showing that).

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

At the MSR-H event in January I rolled the 330 across the scales at 3434 pounds, which was 149 pounds over the 3285 minimum. And at the normal 3285 pound min weight we could run as high as 244 whp (3285 / 13.45). That's why I've been saying all year we're 150 pounds over and -50 whp under class max prep (car still makes 195 whp). Doubly screwed.

Click the image to open in full size.

We didn't have any power adding mods yet (still stone stock drivetrain from paper air filter to exhaust tip) but we DID drop a lot of weight. We actually had 12 mod points to spare for this upcoming October TWS race weekend, so we went ahead and declared 170 pounds under min weight, which comes to 3115 pounds (+12). That way we we could accidentally run the fuel tank DRY and still be extra safe from the scales.

The second way you get penalized running under the classed minimum weight is that it affects your ultimate dyno'd horsepower number. The P-to-W ratio is well... a RATIO of Power to Weight, right? So if you are declaring less weight your calculated maximum horsepower number goes down, too. So at 3115 pounds we could not make more than 232 whp (3115 / 13.45), down from 244 at the higher declared minimum weight.

Click the image to open in full size.

The third way "running light" can hurt you is when the declared weight falls into the "penalty" area of the Appendix B weight table above. At 3285 pounds the car is in the "safe zone" between 3201 - 3399 pounds (no penalty or bonus). Running over 3400 gets a P-to-W bonus and anything 3200 and below gets a penalty. So at 3115 we should add a 0.15 penalty to our adjusted 13.45 P-to-W rario, or 13.60:1. That means at 3115 pounds the car cannot make more than 229 whp on the dyno. We're still almost 35 whp under that number at 195, so I wasn't worried. Nobody ever gets dyno'd at regional events. Well, almost never.

Click the image to open in full size.

So that was the TTD classing sheet we turned in for TWS, above, which has a mistake in it. Totally my fault, but we got no benefit from that. We declared 3115 pound minimum, burning 12 points for that 170 pound drop under the class assigned 3285. And we couldn't make more than 229 whp, which this engine won't get near right now. In a rush (I made this sheet moments before we left for TWS) I forgot about the 3rd P-to-W ratio hit from dropping weight (the .15 penalty from the Appendix B weight chart), but nobody caught it and frankly, we were so far below that adjusted P-to-W limit we were safe. My declared "232 whp" was off by 3 whp (should have been 229).

But at NASA Nationals you better bet they will catch a mistake like that, so you have to check your weight, points, declared horsepower, final adjusted P-to-W ratio and everything safety related before you go. The rules are tough, but they are all there for a reason. When you are building for the ragged edge of a class you gotta worry about a 3 whp mistake, damn straight.

NASA AT TWS OCTOBER 15-16, 2016

As I mentioned last time, we were working on the 330 up until the last minute before heading down to TWS. We had the car so much lighter that the rear ride height had gone up nearly an inch! We brought the car into the shop and quickly reset ride heights, checked camber and toe, then got it loaded into the trailer by 4:45 pm Friday before the race. That meant we hit ALL the traffic heading out of town for the normally 3 hour drive down from Dallas to College Station, TX.

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

This is the same course layout (2.9 mile) and direction (CCW) as we ran back in April. This time we had a few changes that we had hoped would make up the 5-6 second lap detriment we had back in April. The upgrades included a FRESH set of 245mm Hoosier R7 tires, Whiteline swaybars front and rear, and that 280 pound weight loss. There were 3 cars signed up in TTD for this event, both Miatas, including one that clobbered me back in April and another driven by a friend who is quick. I was nervous!

Click the image to open in full size.



The TWS track record for TTD here had been smashed and reset in April to a 1:58.871, which was 6 seconds faster than I ran in the 330 at this event (2:04.743). At this point in the season (October, final Texas event) we had pretty much given up on the points chase for the TTD regional championship, but we still wanted to try to win the class here both days, if possible. There were not enough entries in in TTD class (5 needed) to score any Hoosier contingency, so this was all about redemption.

Amy and I arrived at TWS with the 330 in the trailer on Friday night after the sun went down, so we fumbled around in the pitch dark looking for a place to park. Since the rumors of TWS closing (it isn't) have been going for the past 3 years, the number of entries spikes for these events and we had more than 250 entered for a NASA race weekend here, so the paddock was jam packed by Friday morning. We parked out on "the beach" again under the old TWS sign and unhooked for the night.

We got back early Saturday morning and I went to my instructors meeting then brought copies of the maps to the TT meeting, where we got an ear full about "playing nice" and avoiding incidents.

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

We had 32 cars running TT on Saturday so I gridded early and went out in the TT Warm up and really pushed it, aiming for a good grid position for the next sessions (that count). I managed a 2:00.648 best lap, already 4 seconds quicker than in April, which put me 11th on grid. The original BMW clutch was slipping, so 5th gear was useless, which cost us some time. Luckily we had done the balancer and oiling updates so we could just rev out 4th gear on the front straight. Time for a light weight flywheel and clutch setup!

Click the image to open in full size.

I spent a lot of time running back and forth to grid, since I had an HPDE1 student in a 335i. His car was having major tuning issues but we worked on the basics anyway.

Click the image to open in full size.
The camber on the loaded front tire looks great but we had a tiny push. Will dial out some front bar

I went out in TT session 1 and ran a best of 2:00.027, then ran a 2:00.093 in TT session 2. The track temps were going up and times were getting slower, so I skipped the last TT session for the day. We ended up with the TTD win by 3.9 seconds for Saturday.

Click the image to open in full size.

The 330 was already 4.7 seconds faster than my best times here in April, but I was still frustrated that I couldn't break the elusive 2:00 barrier, and it was SO close (0.027 sec). As is almost always the case, the first (coolest) session on Sunday is when I usually set my best times, so I would shoot for the 1:59s and hopefully sneak up on the track record the next morning. We stuck around for the Saturday NASA party, ate some food, picked up a trophy for the day's class win, and went and got some rest.

Sunday session 1 was completely wasted on a "red flag drill" - on the first hot lap they threw red flags at every station and checked to see who blew past more than one station. Its a long story, but in a Saturday TT session there was a car that wrecked and a few TT racers ignored red flags at the nearby corner station, so this Sunday first session was meant as a lesson. I understand that safety is most important, but the golden session was wasted and I was none too happy about it. The best conditions of the weekend were gone.

Click the image to open in full size.

I went out again in Sunday TT session 2 and was quickly mired in traffic, only managing a 2:00.302 lap time. The car felt fine but I just couldn't get a clear lap in.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
Costas caught these pics with a little inside-left tire in the air, just for a split second

In session 3 I asked our Team member Paul Costas to drive the 330, for several reasons. First, I wanted to get his input on the car's setup. He does as much or more testing than I do and has decades of experience on track. Second, I felt like our finish placing was safe for Sunday considering our win margin the day before. Third, seeing another fast driver in the same car always teaches me something. Always. The two of us have co-driven the same track and autocross cars many times before and we are always within tenths of a second of each other, but we do have differing driving styles. I had seemingly hit a wall and wasn't getting the car under the 2:00 lap time and wanted to see if he could.

Click the image to open in full size.
Click here for Costas' best lap in TT session 3 Sunday

He hasn't driven this car before but co-drove in our other TTD prepped 330 back in 2010 (where he won then as well, when I was out of town). He ended up setting the fastest time of the weekend among the Team Vorshlag drivers (putting two tenths on me), getting the Sunday win by a solid 5 seconds. His best was a 1:59.838 and he backed that up with a 1:59.850.

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Old 11-23-2016, 05:03 PM   #29
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continued from above

Paul took all 7 laps of the session from green flag to checker, with 5 laps at full speed. For some reason the number of cars on track in that session was very low, so traffic was way down. There was a small coolant leak that slowed him on his last lap - which is shown at the end of the video above. No damage was done and the leak was so small it didn't even leave a trail of water, nor did it lose much fluid. It just caused a loss sudden of pressure and a temp spike, so he shut the motor down and coasted for a cool down lap, when it fired up and ran fine. We put it in the trailer and skipped TT session 4, but the track temps were so high by then there wasn't a chance to go any faster.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Costas
I wanted to say how balanced and easy the car was, how awesome the brakes and dampers were. Just a stupid easy car to go fast in.
I've watched Paul's laps and mine many times and it came down to Paul using 3rd gear in two corners where I was keeping it in 4th (Turn 6 and Turn 8 both). I had tried those corners in 3rd in some earlier sessions (where I fought traffic) and didn't see an improvement, but he did it more effectively and found 2 tenths. I guess I need to watch out for a tendency to trust predictive lap timing TOO much, especially in early laps when the conditions or traffic are not favorable. The phrase, "there's always going to be someone faster than you" is true.

Earlier in the weekend Costas had gone out to Turn 10 (slow and flat/no camber) and snapped some pics of the 330 loaded up in this corner. The zoomed in image below shows a lot of detail: we can see tire pressures, dynamic camber, even body roll from this shot.

Click the image to open in full size.

I also wanted to show the before and after "lean" pictures of the 330 on the same tires and MCS coilover and spring setup. The image below is at TWS in April in Turn 13 (flat/no camber) BEFORE we added the Whiteline 30 mm front and 20 mm rear swaybars.

Click the image to open in full size.
Our car in April with MCS TT2 and 600F/750R spring rates, with the stock swaybars. LOTS of roll.

Now this image below is AFTER we added the larger Whiteline swaybars. Notice the difference? It can be both seen and felt, and the grip numbers have ticked up slightly higher. Why? Well its because the inside two tires can handle more of the load in a corner when you limit how much bodyroll the car sees.

Click the image to open in full size.
In October at TWS Turn 10 with the same MCS setup but Whiteline swaybars. Less roll.

The images below show some front end damage we noticed between these two TWS events. Some jackass backed into the front end while the 330 was parked behind our shop. We think it was some of our neighbors, who are none too careful where or how they park.

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

This car wasn't a cream puff, but dang it this still ticks me off. We've had some words with them and it hasn't happened again. At least it wasn't a customer car.

A LOOK BACK AT THE 2016 NASA TEXAS SEASON

Of the 7 weekends that counted for points in NASA Texas in 2016 (14 separate TT races) we ran in 8 days worth and missed 3 weekends (6 events), and there were 4 drops. After missing the string of 3 weekends we quit looking at the end of year points results for TTD class, but that was a bit hasty.

  • MSR Houston January 2016 - Vorshlag finishes 1st & 2nd place
  • MSR Cresson March 2016 - Vorshlag finishes 1st & 1st place
  • TWS April 2016. Vorshlag finishes 6th & 5th place (dismal weekend!)
  • NOLA Region May 2016 - missed
  • Hallett June 2016 - missed
  • MSRH September 2016 - missed
  • TWS October 2016 - Vorshlag finishes 1st & 1st place


Points are awarded for each TT day as a separate race: 1st gets 100, 2nd gets 90, 3rd gets 85, 4th gets 80, 5th 75, etc.

Click the image to open in full size.

Somehow with our strong finishes at both the beginning and end of the season, and out lasting the rest of the TTD entries (14 total cars ran this class over the season), we pulled out a Regional Championship win for 2016 in NASA Texas. This was in no way one of our best seasons in NASA, and in fact included a race weekend with our worst class finishes in all my years of NASA racing. So there was an element of persistence that gave us the season points lead.

Click the image to open in full size.

The 330 was still painfully under-prepared for TTD class and we ran 6 of the 8 events at +150 pounds over minimum weight (until Oct TWS) and the whole season -50whp under the maximum dyno'd power allowed. We also didn't have some of the suspension mods completed until the last NASA weekend of the year at TWS (the swaybars). The final 2016 TWS event sealed the TTD class championship for the year, which helped make me want to keep prepping this car for 2017. That and the fact that we don't have the extra manpower to build a faster and just as competitive TT1/TTU car. ;)

POST TWS REPAIRS AND UPGRADES

After getting the 330 back to the Vorshlag shop after the TWS event of course I wanted to know what happened to lose coolant pressure in the last lap of Costas' Sunday afternoon stint. There wasn't a DROP of coolant in the trailer from where the 330 sat for a few days, so the leak had to be minor.

Click the image to open in full size.

It took some digging but it was - of course - the only piece of the cooling system we didn't replace: the factory plastic coolant reservoir. Due to a number of factors (new thicker radiator + janky busted plastic fan shroud we didn't replace) the plastic tank had rubbed into the power steering pulley. It worked for a half dozen sessions with the new radiator installed but it finally wore through on Costas' last hot lap. Its got a hole barely big enough to see and it just let the pressure sneak out, but once the pressure subsided it leaked no coolant.

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

Brad got this swapped in and re-bled the cooling system (100% water + some Redline Water Wetter). Funny thing is, this same thing happened back in December 2011 - where the same style stock plastic tank wore through in the same spot on our blue 330, also after adding an aftermarket radiator with a thicker core. Gotta keep an eye on that reservoir mount, which is somewhat sloppy.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
Fixing this same issue on our blue 2001 BMW 330 back in 2011

After test fitting an aftermarket aluminum tank that replaces the OEM style (which still needs some work before it fits) we bought a new OEM plastic coolant tank and installed that with a little more care, making sure to secure it as far away from the pulley as possible.

Click the image to open in full size.

In the long term we might try to make a custom tank remote mounted elsewhere in the engine bay, like we do for our BMW E36 V8 swaps (shown above) - where we remove the radiator mounted plastic reservoir tank and put a fabricated tank in the passenger rear corner of the engine bay, higher above the engine and well away from the engine. Gives us some much needed room and added height for easier system bleeding mounting the tank remote like this.

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

Another thing we noticed was a noise in the rear suspension. We checked this on the lift and there was some slop - we had never replaced the factory upper control arm bushings on this car, which are rubber sealed sphericals in a number of locations. We ordered some OEM replacements and Brad tackled this job.

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

Using parts of several elaborate "bushing press" tool kits we have, and a massive C-clamp press that is portable, he pressed the old bushings out of the uprights and in went the Lemforder replacements. Took out some slop and wear on both sides, cleared up the noises, no more dynamic camber loss in these worn out, 165K mile originals.

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

The aluminum factory undertray brace ties into the subframe in 8 places. It acts as both a flat undertray (aero benefits) and a brace for the front suspension loads. It was slathered in old oil and muck from the many fluid leaks we fixed in the last round of mods (oil pan, oil filter adapter, intake, etc). I used the pressure washer and got this thing spotless, then Donnie straightened a few bent tabs and reinstalled it.

Click the image to open in full size.

The rest of the engine block was cleared of old oil residue as well, thanks to the pressure washer when we did all of the leak repairs. We still need to build a flat aluminum front undertray (+0 points) to tie into the crossmember brace and go up to the lower lip of the front bumper cover. Its almost as if we are driving around with a parachute open under the car right now, ugh. We've been weighing the "splitter vs undertray" ideas for too long - finally made a decision, so this can be built soon.

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

Another much needed upgrade was to install a passenger side racing seat. We ran TWS with no right seat and I regretted not being able to take my student on a ride-along in an HPDE4 session, to help with instructing.

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

We've been doing a lot of Sparco seats lately so I picked the EVO II for the fixed mount passenger seat to go along with the Cobra Suzuka GT seat on the driver's side. This makes it convenient to let people sit in both seat styles in a car that is usually at our shop. We keep about a dozen racing seats in our lobby, but nothing is better than sitting in a seat in a real car.

Click the image to open in full size.

With these little items updated, repaired, or installed we loaded back up for a test at our local club track, Motorsports Ranch Cresson (MSR-C). We ran here back in March but we wanted to go back to "set a new baseline" and see how close we were to the TTD track record, before we do any of our list of Winter Updates (power, aero, safety).

MSR-C TRACK TEST, NOVEMBER 10, 2016

One thing I've learned over the years is NOTHING tells you the true story like on track testing. We try to test with good tires on the same track configuration every time, so we can more easily chart improvements or changes. In early 2017 we started testing at MSR-C regularly, and we go to this track about every two weeks on a week day, if they are running the 1.7 mile config CCW (they alternate running member days on the 1.3, 3.1, and 1.7 CW).

Click the image to open in full size.

We scheduled this test day to get a new bench mark lap in the current "light but powerless" setup on the TTD 330, as well as to test some new parts on our 2013 Scion FR-S "test mule" and to do some shake-down laps in a customer's ST3 prepped 2013 Mustang GT with some new brakes. I ended up driving in 5 sessions in 3 different cars this day, including in two 30 minute sessions back-to-back in 2 cars each. It is quite hectic jumping out of a car after 15 minutes of hard driving, quickly moving video/mic/data logger into another car, then rushing out for the 2nd half of the session.

Click the image to open in full size.

On these days we pay per session, so I am trying to squeeze in as much testing for the dollars spent. In hind sight, after this event I am going to stop rushing it and just pay a little more to keep it to driving only one car per session, as I was making driving mistakes and getting pretty overheated jumping from car to car with no break in between. These events require a full race suit, so even at only 75F I was soaked in sweat after thrashing in 5 stints before lunch.

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

Of the three cars I drove, our E46 330 was by far the easiest to drive. It had the most grip, the most neutral setup, and best brake feel, and notched up the 2nd fastest time of the 3 cars tested. The FR-S is still on crap street tires and the ST3 Mustang is on 315mm Hoosiers, so it was quicker.

Click the image to open in full size.

Photo and video gallery: https://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-...k-Test-111016/

Here's a listing of lap times I have run at MSR on this same 1.7 mile CCW configuration in a wide variety of cars:


Back in March with NASA I ran a 1:27.604 best of the weekend and won TTD both days, narrowly missing the track record (by a tenth). I will usually say that at MSR-C lap times under 1:30 are respectable for street cars, running under 1:25 is pretty fast, and under 1:20 is hauling ass. So the 330 at a 1:25.075 is at least getting into the "fast" zone now.

Click the image to open in full size.
Click here for the in-car video of our 1:25.075 lap in the 330 at this test event

Technically this is 2+ seconds faster than the current TTD track record here and we're still 50 whp down. We really hope to have the power added and maybe the aero tricks by March 2017 to get into the 1:22 to 1:23 range and really stomp the old track record (1:27.5) hard.

continued below
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Old 11-23-2016, 05:06 PM   #30
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continued from above

2017 TTD POINTS BUDGET AND PLANS

Time for some bench racing! Assuming no major rules changes happen to TTD for 2017 (HA!), we have an updated yet flexible build plan laid out for our next round of mods to this 330 for TTD. We will hopefully reach "fully prepped" status before too much of the next season has passed us by. We hope.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
A custom long tube header, like this one we built for a customer's tube framed 69 Camaro, is in the works for this 330

There have been a few emails I've sent among the Vorshlag staff and a few trusted gearheads showing where we are on the build (we have excel spreadsheets for every NASA build we have ever done, dreamed up, or helped customers plan out). We have 12 unused points that we don't want to "just use for weight", as running a TT-letter class car under class minimum gets pretty "points spendy" pretty fast. On top of that, your P-to-W ratio never changes, so even when you spend points to "run light" you have to lower your target horsepower to match the lower weight. This is usually only done when you don't know any better or, like in our case in October, have an under-prepped car in between development phases.

Click the image to open in full size.
A high flow, custom stainless steel, mandrel bent exhaust is also in the plan when we add the header

For 2017 we will ballast back up to 3285 pounds (a 4-point roll bar will make up a chunk of that) and then use the remaining 12 points to take the car to "max prep". I will quickly explain below the points, weights, and power for our car in TTD now and where we are going.

Base classing: TTE* with 3285 lb minimum. That means we have 12 points (19 - 7) to spend in TTE class.
Bumping up one class (+20) gives us a total of 32 total mod points for max TTD prep.
Adjusted Power-to-Weight Goal = 13.45 pounds per hp (we get a 0.8 modifier bonus for 245mm tires)
Target weight with driver = 3285 pounds (we can ballast up to that easily)
Target horsepower = 244 whp (we are at 195 whp now)

Points budget so far:
  • Tires: 245mm size (+1) and Hoosier R7 compound (+10)
  • Suspension: Swaybars (2), MCS 2-way non-remote shocks (3), and coilover springs (2)
  • Brakes: Front "BBK" upgrade (+2)
  • Total points spent: 20


Winter power upgrades:
  • Custom full length header and full exhaust (+5)
  • Vented hood & cold air intake (+1) and custom tune (+0)
  • Undertray/ belly pan (forward of axle centerline +0)
  • Widen track width (+0) up to 4", and add flares for more tire clearance (+0)
  • Total with winter plans: 26


All of these modifications had competitive based reasons, and some of them also had marketing reasons. While the swaybars (+2) and BBK (+2) might seem frivolous (testing/marketing vendor parts), after doing some before/after testing we agreed that both mods were worthwhile. And yes, finding 50 whp with exhaust + cold air + tune will be difficult, but I think we can get pretty dang close. The SpecE46 guys run a terrible E36 M3 factory exhaust manifold, a non-optimal "spec" exhaust, and a conservative tune and get to 220-230 whp. Why can't we find 15 more than that with a REAL header design and a custom tune??

This leaves us with only 6 points (32 - 26) left to spend after we burn the points on exhaust and cold air mods for the winter. The best way to spend those points seems to be aero mods. With the low-ish power goals we know downforce will cost some straight line speed but we hope to make that up in cornering speed and braking improvements. We also have a lot of drag now (no front undertray, front tires poking into air stream, non-vented hood) that we think can be cured with some smart aero tweaks.

Here are all of the relevant TT-Letter aero mods' points (see page 34):
  • Custom front splitter (+3)
  • Alternate front fascia and/or air dam (+3)
  • Undertray/belly pan forward of axle centerline (+0)
  • Add canards/winglets, includes portions of an added/modified/replaced fascia that provide a downward force (+2)
  • Add or modify side skirts (+2)
  • Custom rear diffuser, under 5" verticals (+2)
  • Rear wing up to 8" above roof (+4)
  • Vented hood (+1, lumped in with cold air)


Of the list of possible aero mods above, I'd originally planned to do a fascia (+3), rear wing (+4), vented hood (+1 with cold air) and splitter (+3). That was only 10 points above our current build, but with the 7 point classing penalty from January 2016 that wrecked some of our aero plans. Now we have to get very stingy on points.

Click the image to open in full size.

The "air dam / fascia change" is out, as 3 points costs too much for so little gained. Shame, as the "Base Trim Model" E46 front end on the car now is a little beat up. I had already purchased an E46 M3 bumper cover for this car in 2015, before the reclassing. I've also seen Greg rule on front facia changes with points for air dam (3), splitter (3), and canards (2) for a total of 8 points for a bumper cover. Too risky.

Click the image to open in full size.

Making a worthwhile splitter that only costs +3 point looks nearly impossible, as the bottom of the bumper cover isn't flat. Almost all splitters added in TT-Letter end up taking air dam points (+3) as well, which makes a splitter really cost 6 points - too many, and it would leave us 0 points to balance the rear with any downforce. I have driven a "front biased downforce" car and it was a bit scary at high speeds.

Click the image to open in full size.
To help cover the protruding edges of the front tires, the 2015 Camaro Z/28 used add-on "tire walls"

I think adding some tire walls to cover the front tires - which already poke out past the front fascia quite a bit and will only get worse with more track width - is a good idea. Tire walls are not listed in the aero section of the TT Letter rules, however. Would they be deemed "air dam" points (+3) or part of fender flares (legal for +0)? I think you could argue these vertical panels could be part of a flare (0 points), if shaped flat and vertical they couldn't be judged downforce adding canards... but that's the unknown, and some of the TT aero rules are written so vaguely here that it only begs for a protest. I doubt we will ever see totally crystal clear rules on all of these aero tricks, so we cannot take the chance.

Click the image to open in full size.

With only 6 points left, going for a full splitter (+3) and wing (+4) are out, so what about a splitter (+3) & rear diffuser (+2)? That even leaves us a point for wiggle room. But again, can we even make a legal +3 point splitter? Risky.

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

The problem with a diffuser is - we would need to cut out the spare tire well out of the trunk to make room for the diffuser. Legal? If you look at the pictures above the trunk floor is pretty flat and all of that is dominated by the spare tire well. I would assume the "points" for a diffuser (+2) would seem to "pay" for that change? And spare tire wells are often sacrificed for fuel cells (+0 points), but that's the only place it is spelled out as legal to remove. Risky.

Click the image to open in full size.

My other fear with this plan is that the front splitter (assuming +3) will overpower the rear diffuser (assuming +2), again making the car have an aero imbalance. After driving that scary ass scenario at Miller in 2013 (above), I never want to have that setup on a car again! We cannot afford to build and test every possible aero iteration, and so many of these run the risk of points protest - we need to make some educated guesses, figure out a "protest proof" setup, and then optimize those choices.

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

Fender flares need to happen to this car, regardless. We are seeing some tire rub in hard cornering and any time we even touch any curbing. Too risky, we need more room, and flares (+0) would allow us to push the wheels outboard for that +4" track width optimization (+0). We would keep the flares simple - just covering the tops of the tires, no rules pushing there - just like how I flared our blue 330 before.

Click the image to open in full size.

Our last and possibly wackiest option is adding multiple, massive canards (+2) up front and a full AJ Hartman Aero rear wing (+4). My fear with this setup is too little front downforce having the rear wing over-powering the canards. Oh well, this is the least "risky" with respect to protests so we might just try that.

Click the image to open in full size.

Last but not least - safety upgrades. We have to get some sort of roll-over protection in this car, and a good place to hang shoulder harnesses from. After debating this back and forth between a full cage, bolt-in 4-point roll bar, and a "back half" caged (custom 4-point roll bar welded in) we think we finally have a solution. We will build and install this over the winter, then finally get some real 6-point harnesses installed.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Whew, that was a monster to write. I better stop while I'm ahead. Well, we did inspect the DME today to see which DME module for BMW-Editor we needed to purchase...

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

This is an EFI software tuning system that should allow us to custom tune the M54 engine after we have the custom header, new exhaust and cold air installed. Goal is to make 50 more horses (244 whp) on the dyno to max out TTD, or whatever the new number is after they change the rules (inevitably) in January. If we move to "average" power and the P-to-W doesn't change we can make even more peak power. We'll know in about a month.

Cheers,
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S197 Development Thread + C4 Corvette + 69 Camaro + S550 + more project builds in the Vorshlag Sub-Section
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Old 04-11-2017, 10:49 AM   #31
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Project Update for April 10, 2017: Its been way too long since my last post, and we have done a good bit of work on the 330 "over the winter break". This work includes building a new custom header and exhaust, a ballast weight mount for the trunk, seat belt added to passenger side, Mishimoto cold air kit, a new aluminum flywheel/clutch/pressure plate, added a fire bottle + quick release mount, then a half cage and harnesses were added.

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

We also entered the car in two events since the MSR 1.7 test last November 2016: a NASA Time Trial event at MSR-C (1.7 CCW) in early March, then an HPDE event in late March with The Driver's Edge on the 3.1 mile MSR-C course. This update is running too long so I will skip covering these two events for now and just show the fun stuff - the mods!

Click the image to open in full size.

A lot has been going on in the months since my last post here, which might explain why I'm so behind in updating our many project build threads. We launched our all new website for Vorshlag (which took months of work), started a 2nd business (engine shop called Horsepower Research) and built out that commercial space + website, had a TV shoot in our Vorshlag shop (Fast-n-Loud episode - where Aaron Kaufman built an E36 LS1 monster using our swap kit, MCS dampers, flares, 18x11" wheels and more), we hosted our annual open house / SCCA tech day event, had employees leave and then added new hires, attended track events in some of our other project cars, my daily driver truck was totaled in a wreck (which benched me from racing for a bit), and much more. I'm also been remodeling my house for months (to put on the market to sell), and of course overseeing regular Vorshlag business. I just need to add a few hobbies to fill up the rest of my free time, ha! :D

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

I will try to cover the latest round of mods to the 330 and then show the next phase planned on our #DailyDrivenTrackCar. We've also got some cool parts inbound or already here for the next round of stuff - carbon hood, proper flares, and a giant rear wing!

PRE-MARCH 2017 UPGRADES & REPAIRS

Finally... after a year of racing a bone stock powered M54, its TIME FOR MORE HORSEPOWER! Like I tell so many new HPDE drivers, autocrossers, customers and friends: you have to tackle a lot of other things on your track car build before you go looking for horsepower. Most people want to do hp mods FIRST, but it should really towards the BOTTOM of your mod list.

And after we had spent the time and money to upgrade the suspension, wheels and tires, then the necessary oil pump reliability and balancer mods... THEN it was time to install some go-fast parts. Since we use MyShopAssist for all of our shop tasks - even shop owned cars like this one - I can account for every second of work it takes. I'm going to try to show the hours for the various upgrades on this 330 this time, so you can get an idea of what to expect if you pay a shop or how long to budget for yourself to do this type of work on a similar car.

Cold Air + Elbow Kit = 1.42 hours

First up was a cold air kit from Mishimoto. The released one last year specifically made for the E46 330.

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

Mishimoto sent us one of their first production units, which we test fit on our car last year in order to send them feedback.

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

The silicone tubing bits before the MAF sensor are one kit (elbow kit, above right) and the post MAF angled tubing, air filter and airbox are the second kit (cold air kit, above left). We listed these under the "engine performance" sub-heading for the E46 chassis.

Click the image to open in full size.

Brad put this kit onto our 330 in place of the OEM air box and inlet tube, and elbow from the throttle body to MAF. We didn't do an "after" dyno test or any dyno tuning with this Cold Air mod alone, but you could hear the engine a bit more and the sealed airbox fit the car nicely. Maybe a 5-10 hp bump using my super accurate ButtDyno. :p

DISA Valve Repair = 2.45 hours

While the guys were adding all of the Mishimoto intake hose bits I had them rebuild the DISA valve for reliability.

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

We don't sell this kit but I have linked to videos and websites that do. We did this upgrade based on input from local shop owner Andy from Clownshoe Motorsports, who said he has seen DISA failures on E46s that caused parts to go into the engine. Good advice.

Click the image to open in full size.

The DISA valve is a BMW gadget that is mounted to the plenum of the intake manifold on the M52, M52TU, and M54 engines. This valve changes the length of the intake runners to help improve low end torque at low revs (by diverting the intake flow path to longer runner lengths) and higher RPM power (shorter runner lengths). This is a somewhat slick system but this video shows how they fail.

Click the image to open in full size.

We bought the DISA upgrade/repair kit from German Auto Solutions. This kit replaces a bunch of plastic parts (that get brittle and fail over time) with CNC machined aluminum and titanium parts. You should also order new O-rings for the valve when you do this upgrade. This DISA upgrade helps prevent leaks, sticking or fluttering valves, and worse - prevents damaged parts from coming loose and being ingested - which will destroy your engine!

Some might wonder why you don't "just get a new one", but the OEM and aftermarket DISA valves are all still made with the same "low cost plastic" parts, and they will eventually fail. Not to mention a new DISA valve is expensive; this DISA upgrade kit is under $80 but is better than the new $400 replacement units.

The DISA unit in our car was pretty sloppy and needed the rebuild - so we avoided some issues by doing this. The new bushings included in the kit we got were VERY tight to the shaft, however, so they had to be "massaged" a bit and it took nearly 2.5 hours to do this repair. I suspect it would be less than an hour most times, if the parts had worked together more smoothly.

Custom Full Length Header Fabrication = 25.86 hours

I have long said that the OEM exhaust manifold for the M54 engine is one of THE worst designs ever put into a modern automobile. The primary tubes from each port are no more then 5" long, they all turn into a log manifold, which then dumps into a catalytic convertor.

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

The popular solution (outside of SpecE46, which mandates an OEM E36 M50 manifold) is to use these cheap eBay knockoff headers which run from $100-200. I've also said for a long time that "you get what you pay for".
Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

We went that route on our blue E46 TTD 330 back in 2010 and the results (with a custom tune and a cold air intake) made a dismal 211 whp nd 205 wtq. Advice: DON'T BE FOOLED BY SHINY, SPARKLY PARTS FROM CHINA!

Click the image to open in full size.

You can see how different the lengths of the primary tubes are in these cheap headers above. We wanted to make a better designed and more equal length long tube header for the M54. I have been wanting to make this for years and finally have the team in place to be able to do it.

With the before/after chassis dyno testing on the stock M54 engines, my earlier blue 330Ci with the eBay header + custom exhaust, and this red 330Ci with this custom header + exhaust (stock tune), I can already see that this design has been a fundamental success - and we haven't even done any EFI tuning on the red car yet. Let's take a look at the construction of this header.

Click the image to open in full size.

Our head fabricator Ryan built this tri-Y header design using primary lengths, diameters, collector sizes and collector placements that we came up with as a team. I worked with Ryan, our fabricator, and with Jason, our engineer, to come up with this design. Numbers were calculated using some common header design formulas as well as our collective experiences.

Click the image to open in full size.

The primaries are 1.625" diameter, the collectors are 2.500" dia and the final merged exhaust pipe is 3.000" dia. We started with mandrel bent 304 stainless steel tubing. The header flange and merge collectors were built to order. Lastly we added O2 bungs for the primary oxygen sensors (but left the secondary sensors and cats off - for now).

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

The 304 stainless steel flange was CNC machined for the stock M54 head port shape with 1.625" diameter ports. These are made for a round 1-5/8" dia tube that you have to "oval-ize", which Ryan did using the custom made fixture shown above right. This includes both a mandrel and set of dies he machined here. A section of round tubing is worked into the dies and opened up with the mandrel.

Click the image to open in full size.

After the flanges were completed with their short oval-ized tubing sections he began the primary header design using the ICE engine works plastic layout kit (you can see the orange bits above) to get the primary tubes routed and the lengths "as close to equal as makes sense" as they worked their way back to the two 3-into-1 merge 2.5" dia collectors.

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

These made to order 3-into-1 merge collectors were massively delayed - 5 weeks late - and this delay kept us from making the January NASA race at MSR-Houston. These were well made but they blew their ETA by a lot. I wasn't going to do another NASA TT race with stock power again.

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

When the primary tubes were cut, fitted, and tack welded the two 3-tube header assemblies they were removed from the car and final TIG welded on the bench. This involved Argon back purging each tube as they were final TIG welded. The 3-to-1 merge collectors are a slip-fit into the primary tubes but each tube is secured with a pair of flanges and bolts to allow them to be removed and tightened (not shown).

Click the image to open in full size.

Getting 6 long header tubes packed together on one side of the engine makes it all look a bit busy, but overall I'm very happy with the fit in the car and with the overall shape and lengths. From here we needed to make a new exhaust system that matched the flow of the full length header. Doing a custom header like this is VERY time consuming, and the fact that it only took 26 hours (including about 1.8 hours getting some stubborn exhaust studs/nuts removed) to build shows how having good tools and equipment saves time. We didn't cut any corners, no sloppy welds or hammer fitting things in place.

Exhaust Fabrication = 19.78 hours

With the higher flowing header we need a higher flowing exhaust system behind it. Another time consuming but necessary job to make the after-header system match the capabilities of the new custom header. We went for a quiet, high flowing system using a layout we have used on BMWs in the past. Normally I'd quote closer to 15 hours for this job, but in this case there were some aspects of the custom header and how that mated to the collectors that added some time.

Click the image to open in full size.

Previous custom exhausts we have built on multiple E46 M3s with the more powerful S54 3.2L engine were built here using 2.75" or 2.5" collectors merged into a 3.5" main exhaust pipe and muffler (see above). We've seen the dyno results of these S54 builds and those results + our calculations and experience drove us to a 2.5" collectors and a 3.0" main exhaust system on this 3.0L M54.

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

The OEM E46 330 exhaust bits are heavy and restrictive. They do a good job and make the exhaust note almost silent, even with the vacuum controlled flapper in the exhaust (which does almost nothing). After 17 years of use the system looked nearly new - so it was definitely robust.

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

We weighed the stock bits back in 2010 and we cut out 50% of this weight with the eBay headers and the system I built back then. Problem was it was loud and I didn't want a lot of exhaust noise this time around. We have had good results with a few Magnaflow models in the past few years which we have done before-after exhaust sound tests with and had incredible results - with both power and sound attenuation.

Click the image to open in full size.

The case uses a 5"x11" oval shape with a massive 22" case length. On the S54 powered M3s we use the unit above with the 3.5" tube (it also comes in 4.0") but for our little M54 powered 330 we went with the 3.0" tubed version. I know this muffler can cut sound and still make power - but it comes with a higher weight. Since we are already having to add ballast (see below) and its all going to the back, this muffler is as good of a place as any for ballast.

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continued from above

Click the image to open in full size.

The Magnaflow stainless muffler is bigger than the OEM unit but still fits in the stock location on the driver's side rear. That was hung first and then the 3" tubing and bends were routed forward. Ryan also added a 3" V-band connection just forward of the rear axle.

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

The 2.5" dia tubing sections after of the collectors were run back to about the middle of the car. Here they were merged into a 2-to-1 merge that brought the exhaust up to a single 3" tube. This was routed back to the muffler section aiming for the V-band connector.

Click the image to open in full size.

The exhaust tucks up into the tunnel nicely with no loss of ground clearance - even going to much larger tubing diameters. We went for a turn-down aft of the bumper, which I show below in the "sound test" video.

PDR Repairs

Donnie's brother Kris stopped by on a rainy day and performed PDR on the 330 in our shop. He spent a few hours and removed about a dozen little hail dings on the trunk, roof, and hood.

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

It was a little thing but it made the car look a bit better. We've got a lot more work to do in "looks" department for this car, and with a new carbon hood and new fender flares being added soon I have already scheduled time at our painter's shop during the summer break.

Clutch & Flywheel Upgrade - 4.57 hours

If you read my October 2016 TWS race write-up you might remember we noticed some clutch slippage in 5th gear. We put off the replacement until we had time to research a better option and then snatch the transmission out of the car to do the repairs. We ran the November test in 4th gear at MSR, but 5th was pretty much useless - and it wasn't going to get any better. With a TWS event scheduled for April we had to tackle this, so back in January we made time to replace the clutch. But what should we use?

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Details and pictures from our blue 2001 330Ci raced 2009-11

Some of you remember my blue 2001 330Ci which we raced 2009-2011 (which has its own build thread) with much less racing success compared to what this red 330 has had already. We built it for SCCA DSP class but raced it a couple of times in NASA TTD, where it still runs today with it's new owner. Right as we added the eBay header + custom exhaust on that car we upgraded the clutch and flywheel to a mish-mash of Sachs OEM clutch parts (made for some other BMW) along with a Fidanza single mass aluminum flywheel, shown above.

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Details and pictures from our blue 2001 330Ci raced 2009-11

The factory M54's clutch and pressure plate (worn) weighed in at 13.6 and the OEM dual mass flywheel weighed 24.8 pounds. The Sachs clutch parts weighed a tick more than stock, but the aluminum flywheel we used then helped that setup drop 12.8 pounds. The Sachs/Fidanza setup worked well and had an OEM like engagement feel - because it was some OEM Sachs clutch and pressure plate. Still, losing flywheel mass is always appreciated and this setup worked for many years without issue. The current owner of this 330 tracks the car 2 times a month and had a clutch failure back in 2016, so he got a good 6+ years of abuse out of the Sachs bits.

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New hotness! ClutchMasters FX350 kit we have installed on our red 330Ci

Its 2017 and I wanted to find something better than OEM Sachs parts this time. Some other BMW racers had talked me to ClutchMasters products and we have used a number of their clutch and flywheel kits recently with excellent success. Since this E46 was built for us to test new products with before we would consider selling them, I figured I would try the 330 option they make. We picked up this FX350 clutch kit with the optional single-mass aluminum flywheel.

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Left: The red car's clutch/pp/flywheel weighs 39.5. Right: FX350 system weighs 26.2

We re-weighed the stock bits and it came in at 39.5 pounds. We replaced the worn OEM flywheel and clutch/pressure plate parts and replaced them with this 26.2 pound FX350 flywheel and clutch kit, for a loss of 13.3 pounds. And while that's only a fraction of a pound more weight savings than the Sachs/Fidanza setup we used 8 years ago, this FX350 kit is a full clutch/flywheel system engineered together, not some assortment of OEM bits and a flywheel that happened to work with that. This FX350 clutch has more clamping force but not a tremendously firmer clutch pedal effort.

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Donnie did the install of this kit. First he started by removing the exhaust covers, driveshaft, trans, and shifter. The clutch and PP were removed, then the stock flywheel. Which looked like crap! You cannot resurface dual mass flywheels so this was scrapped - which we had planned to do anyway. The pilot bearing was checked and it felt loose, so that was pushed out of the crank and replaced.

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The rear main seal had a small leak so the rear engine cover was removed and resealed, along with adding a new one-piece rear main seal. I hate fluid leaks on my cars! If I see a drop of anything leaking it really spins me up. This is why I try to keep my engines spotlessly clean on all of my personal vehicles - to spot any leaks.

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The ClutchMasters flywheel went in next, with cleaned bolts applied with and Blue LocTite. The clutch and pressure plate went in with an alignment tool and torqued to spec as well. The clutch slave cylinder and engagement arm both looked a bit janky so they were replaced. RBF600 Motul fluid was flushed through the clutch hydraulics, so everything is new in the clutch system.

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I've shown the "rebuilt" shifter we did on this car, which just uses a shorter Z3 shift handle and some new bushings. It shifts "well enough" but I am avoiding the typical aftermarket BMW shifters that I have used on previous builds. Instead I've got my eye on something better, like the CAE shifter. We'll see if that is in the budget, but until then I'm sticking with the upgraded OEM shifter.

Test Drive: Exhaust + Clutch Sound

A 3" turn-down was added to the rear of the exhaust to divert sound away - its not made to be JDM-YO! cool looking, but instead serves a purpose. Keeps sound levels low.

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I took the car for a test drive after the header, exhaust, cold air and clutch upgrades were complete. Very happy with the clutch engagement and added power I could feel.

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The exhaust note was also pleasantly quiet. You could "hear" the engine but it wasn't LOUD AS HELL like some race systems are. Much quieter than say... a SpecE46 or a SpecMiata. The video above was me driving around the paddock at MSR in March, trying to show the sounds of the clutch (minimal noise added) and exhaust (ditto). You will see in the track videos what it sounds like at full tilt, but for now this is what its "street sound" is like. Mild, throaty, and very reasonable. That's not by accident.

BEFORE/AFTER DYNO TESTS

I thought about not posting dyno charts until after we have had a chance to get the computer custom tuned, but EVEN WITHOUT tuning this is still good data to share.

Let's start with the STOCK dyno test on our red 2001 330Ci as well as the FINAL dyno test on our blue 2001 330Ci with the eBay header, exhaust, cold air and a custom tune.


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Left: Red 330 stock dyno test in 2016. Right: Blue 330 dyno test with headers/exhaust/CAI/tune in 2010

Now some have said that our red 330's stock chassis dyno power number (195 whp) looks a little low, which is probably due to the fact that it had 164K miles when we tested it last year in stock form. The Blue 330Ci's dyno was with a "custom" e-tune, header, exhaust and cold air - where it made 211 whp/205 wtq.

Yes, there are some SpecE46 cars making more power than that, I know. Those use the M50/52 OEM header + a $600 tune from EPIC + a race exhaust, and it isn't a bad setup. The common SpecE46 cars tend to make 205-225 whp with the full suite of "spec" components, and the higher numbers on that scale tend to be on freshly rebuilt motors, not 164K mile used engines.

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This is the UNTUNED dyno chart for our red E46 330Ci after the header/exhaust/CAI: 216 whp/220 wtq. A solid +5 whp and +15 wtq more than our blue car, with similar parts and tuned. Did I want to see more than that? Sure, but its still on the factory tune with the stock computer. I assure you we will have this tuned and re-dyno'd before my next big thread update, where I hope to see +10 or more whp added. Surprisingly it drives fine like this, just has a bunch of "check engine lights".

continued below
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Old 04-11-2017, 10:54 AM   #33
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continued from above

OTHER REPAIRS AND UPGRADES

There were a number of small repairs and upgrades that happened either right before or just after the March NASA event but before the TDE track weekend we went to, which I will cover below.

Ballast Weight Box (2 hours) + Corner Balance (1.5 hours)

In our last NASA race of 2016 we ran TWS at 3115 lbs declared race weight. We could do that because we had so many unused "mod points" to burn, and our power was well below the class P-to-W limit (244 whp) for the 3285 "base weight" this car is assigned. We used up all 12 mod points to be able to legally run 160 pounds under weight, with driver. In January 2017 after adding the header/exhaust (+5 points) and cold air (+1), and while we had increased power by a bit, we lost 6 of those "weight loss" points, so we have to add some weight back to be legal (80 pounds worth).

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After the header + CAI we still had 6 unused points for TTD, so we shot for a 3205 pound race weight (80 pounds under, plus a 15 pound buffer shown above at 3220) for the March '17 NASA event at MSR. To get there we had to add 80 pounds of ballast from before (20 in bracket/bolts + 60 in weight plates).

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We have built ballast weight brackets before on many cars but last year I came up with an idea to utilize a bench press bar and associated weight plates to make for an easier "quick change" ballast system. This idea was first tested on Jamie Beck's ST3 classed Mustang, where he has to add ballast to stay within that class' power-to-weight limit. On that car we added two "stacks" of weights with the ability to fit 250 pounds of ballast in the back quickly.

Like the race prepped Mustang, our TTD prepped E46 is getting lighter in the rear faster than the front. When we had to add this 80 pounds of ballast we built a similar rear trunk mounted ballast rack - bolted inside the spare tire well. Ryan fabricated this structure using thick walled 1"x2" rectangular tubing, generous mounting flanges, and large bolts to the chassis with reinforced nut heads.

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This time we used only a single square threaded bench press bar post (passing thru and welded to the tubing on both sides) and a single stack of weights. Plates of weight can be added to reach our final race weight goals quickly, and removed for test days and HPDE events to reduce consumable wear. With two locking collars secured to each other on the threaded post, the weights stay tight all weekend. This system passed NASA tech on two cars on multiple occasions, so we're going to keep using it.

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Once we had the weight bracket built, the weights added to hit our 3205 goal (3220 with buffer) and half a tank of fuel (the minimum we can run without fuel starving) the guys corner balanced the car with me in the driver's seat to get our diagonal weights at 50/50. The 52.4% front weight bias is shown in the picture above, which was an improvement of 2 points from before (before ballast). With some fluid changes we were now ready to race with NASA in March!

Replace Control Arm = 0.79 hours

During the March NASA event I may have been a little overzealous with some of the curbing on a few laps, which can bite you there. I was trying to reset the TTD track record by enough that it would "stick" for a while (and did - by nearly 4 seconds) so I was using all of the paved curbing on track out (gator teeth style) and even some of the FIA inner curbing (much of which is REALLY tall here). I was also forced off track at the highest speed corner that weekend by driver with a minor lack of situational awareness.

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Those two circumstances (high speed off + some curbing) may have led to to a prematurely worn control arm ball joint up front. I started hearing some knocking noises and checked it track side that weekend, but it wasn't bad enough to warrant repair there.

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After this March MSR event - like after every track event - I had our crew perform a thorough pre-track inspection. Ryan found some play in the inner mounting ball joint of the LF control arm. I had ordered a less expensive set of Febi/Bilstein control arms when we replaced the original stock arms a year ago, and once again I learned "you get what you pay for". A more costly stock replacement Lemforder arm was installed this time, which is a brand we have had better results with.

Passenger Seat Belt Added = 1.76 hours

When we ran the 330 at TWS last year we wanted to run as light as possible, so only one racing seat was installed. We had made brackets for the passenger seat and installed it briefly, but it was left out to conserve weight for that event (running 3115 pounds). After that event it was installed but in in the rush to prep the car for the November test we forgot to add the lower seat belt buckle. We had since thrown the ratty old stock seat and never thought to save the seat belt parts (which are attached to the bottom of the stock seat).

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I never noticed that because after we had the 2nd race seat installed I hadn't taken a passenger with me - just doing MSR testing by myself. It wasn't until I tried to take my student at the March '17 NASA event for a ride, and he tried to buckle in, that it was noticed it wasn't there - Doh! So after this event we looked high and low in the shop for a stock E46 lower seat belt buckle, to no avail. A new one was ordered from BMW ($120!) and I had our new fab guy Aaron install it. Which is harder than it might sound.

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Running a 3-point OEM belt with racing seats might seem crazy, but for street use it is actually much safer to use retractable OEM belts rather than cinched down 5-7 point racing harnesses. So we will always add the OEM lower buckle from a BMW seat to the chassis bracket or side brackets when we do a racing seat install in a DUAL PURPOSE car like this. Our "Daily Driven Track Car" is the definition of dual purpose.

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This was one of Aaron's first fab jobs on one of our shop cars, so I had him remove the driver's side seat to copy the threaded bung Olof had machined and welded to the driver's side OMP steel side bracket a year before. Aaron machined the matching steel bung on the lathe, tapped it for a big M10 bolt, then welded it to the passenger side steel bracket.

This worked perfectly (correct height and placement) and the upper OEM seat belts now have something to buckle into on the passenger side. The task gobbled up more time than I would charge a customer, but I guess if we had done this when both seats at the same time initially this might have only added about 45 minutes of work or less.

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While using OEM 3-point belts on racing seats is far from ideal for the actual track use portion of this dual purpose car, it does work and passes tech (when the belts are routed through the racing seats correctly). There was just nothing to mount the shoulder harnesses to - up until last week. We had been talking about adding a 4-point roll bar or 6-point roll cage for some time, and have finally have done that (I will show more details next time). But long story short: now we can add real 6-point harnesses to both seats for track use, and keep the 3-point OEM belts in place for street use. The things you have to do on a dual purpose car...

Fire Bottle & Quick Release added = 1.72 hours

Speaking of good safety ideas, adding a small fire extinguisher is always a good idea to a track car. We always like to add a 2.5 pound Halon-type fire bottle within easy reach of the driver. These work well to put out small fires - like a grass fire, if you drive off track and have to stop (mechanical), or small electrical fires. Full blown engine fires might need a 10+ pound fire bottle from a corner worker, but little flame ups can be squashed with these smaller 2.5 pound bottles.

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A multi-nozzle Aqueous Foam fire suppression system coupled with a small fire extinguisher is a great combo in a race car.

Often we will add this little 2.5 pound fire bottle and quick release mount to a race car that also has a full fire system. Why discharge your (required) fire system and fill the car with foam for something that a small Halon style bottle could extinguish?

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We like to use a Drake billet aluminum quick-release mount, which is an approved fire bottle mount that allows for "quick release" from the chassis. This can mount to a roll bar or flat surface. In this case we put it just under the front edge of the passenger seat, which is easy to reach to from either side, yet out of the way of passenger's legs. Then we mount a 2.5 pound Halon-substitute fire bottle to that Drake mount. Pull the red pin, slides right out, and then you can head to the flames.

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On a race car this is easier, as we don't have 2" inch thick padded carpet in the way and we can just bolt the Drake mount to the floor or trans tunnel. But on this BMW I had Aaron make a pair of spacers to bring the mount above the thick OEM carpet. These were made with some custom machined aluminum hex bar, which is threaded at both ends. The lower side bolts to the floor from underneath and passed through small holes in the carpet and foam padding. The upper holes are threaded for the countersunk stainless bolts we use with the Drake mount. Keeps the mount rigid and above the carpet. This is yet another added wrinkle necessary with a dual purpose car vs a race car (which takes 15 minutes to mount to the bare floor).

330 FENDER FLARES - FIRST TRY

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If you watched my "exhaust sound" video above you will notice some serious tire rubbing in the rear when going up inclines. In my track videos you will have heard the tires rubbing on some bumps or curbing, too. The 17x10" wheels we're using just have too much width and offset to work with the stock E46 rear fenders and the wide-ish 245mm Hoosiers. The front tires are touching the fenders as well - which is not good.

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I have got to do something about adding tire clearance to all four corners, and we've run out of room on the fenders with heavy hammer massaging. It looks terrible with what I've done already, but the tires and fenders are still "touching inappropriately". #SafeSpace I didn't want to go through the trouble + bodywork expense of the modified front/grafted on rear OEM E46 M3 fenders on this car like I did on the blue 330. The E46 M3 front fenders we used before have nearly doubled in price from the dealer, at almost $600 per fender (that's $2400 + fab work + bodywork + paint). There has got to be a more cost effective way to flare this car for these wheels/tires.

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I searched the forums and that led me to these fleaBay bolt-on "generic" fender flares, which some said they had good results with (but I couldn't find any installed pics). For less than $120 shipped from "Latviaistan" I figured, "how bad could they be?"

Answer: VERY BAD. These flares don't fit these BMWs at all, as the wheel arch on the flare is much smaller then what the E46 needs. The overall shape is also way off, and would take hours of cutting and notching to make them "fit" around the contours of the fenders. They will also never look good. So I bit the bullet and just ordered HARD Motorsport E46 bolt-on flares, which should be here next week. We will post up the pics of that install next time, which will involve cutting and fab work to clear the tire, but the flares themselves should more or less "bolt on".

WHAT'S NEXT?

Like I said at the beginning, there have been two track weekends in March 2017 that I need to get pictures and video together for to chronicle here. Just showing work done on mods in this update.

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At the March NASA event we beat the old 1.7 CCW TTD track record to bits, which I will show next time with video in my event write-up. Very happy with the results (1:23s), but with "6 more points of mods" in TTD and more power (from a proper tune) we could go even faster (1:21s is where the record needs to be).

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The long overdue addition of a custom half cage (welded in 4 point roll bar) was completed last week, which I will show next time. The Schroth harnesses are here and those will go in once the roll bar structure is painted. We should see the correct fender flares soon as well, so we can hopefully show that install in a future update. We have another NASA event at TWS in a couple of weeks that we will be hunting for the TTD track record at, as well as a NASA event COTA in May. Then Hallett in June, then the summer break where we will get some paint work done to this car.

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There is also an "extra" AJ Hartman carbon fiber hood (9.5 pounds!) that we ended up with last month from another project, which will go onto our red 330 soon. Hopefully before TWS, but the schedule is pretty jammed up so I don't know if we will get it installed in time. Getting more weight off the front axle and onto the rear axle (as we add ballast) is a continuing goal, and this lightweight hood should improve that further. We're at 52.4% front weight bias now, improved from 54% before, so we're heading in the right direction.

Until next time,
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S197 Development Thread + C4 Corvette + 69 Camaro + S550 + more project builds in the Vorshlag Sub-Section
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Old 05-12-2017, 03:37 PM   #34
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Project Update for May 11th, 2017: We've done four track events since my last update in here, including one HPDE event, two NASA race weekends where we were chasing TTD track records, and an SCCA Club Trials event - I cover the first 3 in this update. The added power of the CAI + header + exhaust were much appreciated, and you can read about that below. The E46 is getting faster on track, but the "streetable" aspects are starting to diminish, too. That is not shocking news - as a car gets racier, it gets less streetable.

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With proper roll bar and harnesses I could do some right seat coaching with Amy at TWS

We still haven't had the engine tuned yet (after the custom header/exhaust/CAI), but we have the hardware and software on hand and are working towards that goal. We did tackle the long overdue safety upgrades by building a custom 4-point roll bar / welded half cage. Then Schroth harnesses were added, finally. As I write this the HARD Motorsport flares are being added - will show some of that also.

WHAT ABOUT THAT CARBON HOOD?

Last time I teased a picture of carbon fiber hood built by AJ Hartman that we weighed at 9.5 pounds. We have an extra one we got that will go on this 330 soon, but not in this update. The hood was originally ordered for this E46 M3 shown below.

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This is a customer build we are doing with an E46 M3 chassis, big nasty V8, major aero mods, massive tires, and lots of other go-fast tweaks. You can read more about this in that car's forum build thread here.

NASA at MSR-C, MARCH 11-12, 2017

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Running our red TTD prepped 330 at MSR-Cresson, once again chasing a track record in March 2017 was a weird case of deva vu. In 2016 we were chasing the TTD record in our red 330 with stock power, overweight, on dead 245mm Hoosiers. But even way back in 2010 we set the (soft) TTD record with our blue 330, also on the wrong tire and with stock power. Here's a quote from that old forum build thread for the blue car:

Quote:
3/24/2010: I set the TTD track record at MSR-C with a dismal 1:29.8 last weekend. ... I'm not proud of that as a "lap record", being that its slower than the TTE record, but it was a good shake-down run on the wrong tires with a slug of a motor. We'll go back and run MSR-C soon with more tire (Hoosier 285s), more power (header + exhaust + VANOS repaired), and see if I can get into the 1:25-ish range. That's what I think the car is capable of at MSR in TTD trim. Won't be able to work on the lap record until 2011, though... and by then it might be in TTC. Oh well.
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Left: Blue E46's 2010 TTD record setting setup on 265mm Yokohamas. Right: Same car on 285 Hoosiers was MUCH faster

Not one week after that 2010 NASA event I had flared the blue car to fit the (then TTD legal) 285mm Hoosier R6 tire, using M3 front fenders and hammered rear fenders. Shortly after we added the CAI, eBay header, and a custom race exhaust. We should have gone back to reset the TTD record in 2011, but by then we had suffered a "number of engine failures" that soured me on the M54 engine and I sold that E46 330. Since then the NASA rules have changed and the E46 330 has both gained weight and lost 7 class points in the base classing, plus the tire rules changed, which makes the old setup on the blue 330 impossible to do in TTD today. Shame, as I really liked the 285s on that car - wider tires really woke it up!

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Our old blue E46 330 is still running on track in 2017 - and it is still quick

The guy we sold the blue 330 to is still running it 2+ times a month on track, now on 275mm Conti slicks. He's working on getting his TT license and in the pictures above (April @ TWS) he was doing lead-follows with Amy in our 330, with them both running in HPDE4.

Event photo gallery: https://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-...-MSR-C-031117/

So back to the MSR race weekend: unlike last year's March MSR-C event with NASA, where I could run no quicker than a 1:27.604 on a dying set of Hoosiers, this time the 330 had a fresher set of Hoosier R7s (3 events on them instead of 7!) - and fresh tires can make all the difference in the world. We also had more horsepower (+21 whp), less weight, real MCS coilovers, Whiteline swaybars, and a year's worth of testing to put us closer to our goal of resetting the TTD track record. The old record coming into this 2017 NASA race weekend was a 1:27.5, but like I said in 2010, I felt like it should have always been closer to a 1:25.0. I have been continuously mystified as to why the TTD record was so "soft" here at MSR for the past 7 years.

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We got to Cresson late afternoon on Friday to unhook the trailer, but I was REALLY sick with bad allergies. Violently sneezing, coughing, stopped up, blurry eyes - I had never had an allergy attack this bad. The weather was also wet, unseasonably cold, and with with high winds all weekend. I ended up being sick all weekend, plus was still really sore from the truck wreck I had weeks earlier, which all kept me from driving at 100%. I was also instructing and working with 4 different students, giving three check rides, so super busy that weekend. Friday night I barely slept 2 hours, which put me in worse shape the next morning. All in all this was not one of my best weekends of driving, but it still went pretty well.

Saturday

Since it had rained a bit the night before, it was cold and windy Saturday morning. So I went out in the BMW in the "TT Warm-up" session on a green track. I was buried in traffic and only ran a 1:25.5 lap, about a half second slower than my November test (1:25.0, see lap video links below). A TTC classed M3 in front of me the entire session was spraying my car with SHEETS of fuel (he had a busted fuel filler cap) so I came in after getting a good enough time for gridding in the next session. Still running the Sparco EVO II seats with OEM seat belts, which meant I had to brace my upper body, so my injured back was killing me.

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Left: Lots of S2000s ahead and behind me on grid. Right: Jamie's Mustang doing well in ST3

In the first official TT session an hour later I busted off a 1:24.085, smashing the old TTD track record by 3.4 seconds. The R7 tires were showing their age and taking 4+ laps to come up to temp before they had real grip. After a lot of sliding around they were working better and giving some decent lateral g numbers, but in laps 1-3 they weren't performing.

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I went out in the third session (TT session 2) and ran a similar 1:24.154 to back up that time, but the weather and traffic in the middle of the LARGE field of TT drivers wasn't favorable.

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I ended the day then, skipping the last session, hoping for some traffic free laps in the "golden" first session of Sunday morning. Picked up a trophy for the day but also the 2016 Regional TTD championship trophy at the NASA banquet that night. I was feeling pretty terrible and was just dying to get some sleep at the hotel.

Sunday

The day again started off with lousy weather - overcast, windy, and cold with ambient temps of 43F and wind chill in the 30's. I skipped the 1st session but there were some fast times, and I regretted not going out. I was still gridded fairly well for session 2 and I told myself that if I had times in the 1:23 range, I'd put the car on the trailer and call it a day. We had already smashed the record, and not having a single TTD competitor that weekend made running every session somewhat pointless. I also wanted to save the remaining tire life on this set for another event coming up (HPDE).

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This video shows the new TTD record lap on Sunday

In session 2 after several laps of getting the tires up to temp I finally ran a 1:23.789 lap, beating the old track record by almost 3.7 seconds and even beat the record I set the day before by a few tenths. You can see from this list of videos/lap times I have run at MSRC how far we've come in this 330:

I guess we reset the track record closer to what it should be, but with no other TTD competitors we once again didn't have a chance to win any tires - and we would need a fresh set before NASA @ TWS in April. We still don't have a max prepped TTD car, and with better conditions (and better driving) a full tilt TTD car might inch closer to the 1:22 or even 1:21 range. TTC record was reset by an S2000 by a LOT this same weekend, down to a 1:18.691 (from a 1:21 previous record), which was an eye opener. That was the second quickest TT time of the weekend, behind a 1:17.444 time from a TT3 M3. I have the end of day results posted here as well as in the photo gallery.

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Time Trial Results for both days (each day is a different points event)

Pros and Cons: Tire rub - all weekend I could feel the tires hitting the edges of the fenders in one corner. Oddly enough the left side tires had contact on this predominantly left hand turn course. It was from a series of bumps on the driving line at the entry of Buzzard Neck (T4) which were causing the suspension to compress on the left side enough to touch. I kept an eye on this all weekend, but its been doing it ever since we installed these 17x10" wheels. I thought I had re-rolled the front and rear enough times to clear but apparently it needs more. Drastic measures required.

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On the plus side the extra power from the header/exhaust/CAI was apparent - and now all I can think is, "I want some more!". The exhaust sound was also pretty tame, which was what we were going for. The video below shows the exhaust sound at normal sub 2500 rpm levels. The new ClutchMasters flywheel and clutch worked great.

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This video shows a short exhaust sound test driving around MSR Cresson

With class wins both days we had scored 200 more points towards the regional TTD championship, and we were glad to get out of this crazy weather - we hung out inside the trailer during down time the rest of the day, and had the car loaded in the trailer before lunch. I stuck around until the last HPDE run group to instruct then we hit the road. The driving wind and cold just took everything out of us both, Amy never even drove a single lap (she wasn't feeling it, I dunno), and I was sick as a dog all weekend. Glad to put this event in the rear view... but we still celebrated our New First Tack Record in the TTD car.

TDE at MSR-C 3.1 MARCH 25-26, 2017

Amy signed us up to The Driver's Edge HPDE event on March 25-26, 2017, two weeks after the NASA event and at the same facility. She was more excited about running this HPDE event on the 3.1 configuration of the same track for some reason than she was at the previous NASA weekend. She really likes the little 1.3 mile course - which has lots of elevation change - and when joined with the 1.7 course becomes the 3.1.

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

Lots of Vorshlag customers go to these HPDE events so we were there for support and to see friends. She ran in the yellow group on the 3.1 mile course on Saturday and had a lot of fun in all 4 sessions. Since I wasn't an instructor for this group I couldn't do any right seat coaching, which would have likely helped her find more time - but she was quick for the yellow group.

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

We split the 2 day entry so I hopped in the 330 and ran it all day Sunday in the red group. Lots of corners, hard to remember, but its a fun track. We didn't take any in-car video since we were just out having fun.

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Old 05-12-2017, 03:39 PM   #35
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continued from above

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

I had a "evaluation ride" by one of the Instructors that runs with TDE a lot on Sunday to see if I "have what it takes" to run in the red group and possibly be an instructor with this HPDE organization. He had read the build thread for this car so he was excited to ride along - even if we didn't have harnesses in the car yet (they were installed shortly after).

Click the image to open in full size.

I hadn't run the 3.1 mile configuration at MSR-Cresson since 2013 so I was a bit rusty, but managed to run some quick-ish times (2:33.593) in two of my three sessions. The weather was beautiful and we had fun - but the lack of competitive element always leaves me... wanting. Amy had a blast and finally drove the 330 for an entire day. She got more comfortable in this car than ever before, and really liked the brakes, handling and grip. By my last session Sunday the tires were really falling off and I was slowing down. It was time for a new set of Hoosiers...

4-POINT ROLL BAR FABRICATION

After the TDE event the next track on the schedule was TWS with NASA, and I was determined to not run at this track again without a roll bar and real harnesses. This track has a tendency to "eat cars" - each year it seems there are more cars damaged at TWS than at all other road courses in the state of Texas combined.

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

Making the decision to build this welded in roll bar involved some internal debate over which of these 3 "rollover protection" options we should use for this car:

1. Buy a pre-made 4-point roll bar and fit it, weld it together, and bolt it in
2. Build a custom 4-point roll bar and weld it into the car
3. Build a full 6-point roll cage that is welded into the car.

Option 1 wasn't really exciting to me as these bolt-in roll bar kits tend to be made to fit around interior bits (headliner, full interior panels, back seat) which we no longer have in this car. Plus I had done this in the blue 330 before. The compromises of building around the interior keeps the tubing 2-3+ inches below the roofline in a semi-gutted car like ours. The rear downbar mounts (below right) are also "less than ideal" and not fitted well. I get why they do that, but its just a compromise.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
Bolt-in 4-point roll bar kit fitted, welded together, and bolted into our blue E46 330

Option 2 - a custom, welded 4-point roll bar - would fit better than Option 1, but the time it would take was a bit of an unknown. Why? We don't do this type of "half cage" deal often.

Option 3 - a full roll cage - didn't fit this car's "daily driven track car" goals, as its almost impossible to make a "safe" roll cage that isn't dangerous on the street. Hitting your head on an upper cage/door bar without a helmet on is risky. We can sometimes pull this off with shorter drivers or larger cars, but for me, in this car... wasn't going to ever be safe. We also know a full cage would eat up 60 hours of "lost billable hours" + $800 in materials, so that's pretty expensive even for a shop owner (we always have a waiting list of customer fab work we can do). So we went with option 2.

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

I was still worried about the amount of time a custom 4-point it would eat up, so I kept a close eye on that. And in the end it took about 1/3rd the time (a hair over 20 hours) to completely fabricate and weld in this custom roll bar. Pleasantly surprised, and with the hours and materials added up compared to the cost of a typical 4-point bolt-in bar + install, it comes to about the same price. Due to that realization we are going to do this type of custom 4-point more often rather than the 4-point bolt ins, with fewer compromises.

Click the image to open in full size.

The rear carpet section was removed and the floor was cleaned where the steel mounting plates would be welded in. Leaving the factory shoulder belt anchors in the B-pillar was a point of contention, but I wanted to keep the OEM 3-point belts functional for a while longer - in case this car was still street driven (turns out that was a good idea). This kept the main hoop from touching the metal B-pillar structure, so the rear interior panels were also left in place - for now. Using a template from previous E46 cages, Ryan bent up a slightly narrower main hoop out with 1.75" dia x .095" wall DOM tubing. The tubing still fits very tight to the roof - inches closer than the bolt-in rollbar kits made for this chassis.

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

Like I pointed out above, one of the main drawbacks from the pre-made roll bar kits is where they mount the rear downbars to the chassis - at the rear sheet metal inner wheel wells, which aren't the strongest location on the E46. I asked Ryan to mount these diagonals to plates welded on top of the formed rear frame rails instead. This might cause some controversy, but its something that makes the most sense to us. Some folks fixate on mounting these rear downbars to the shock towers, or tying into or rear subframe mounts, but we don't feel that either location is ideal for a majority of the roll cage equipped BMWs out there, nor this car. We don't ever plan to use a "coilover rear shock", nor do we see rear subframes ripping out of BMWs when large chassis reinforcement plates are welded in properly.

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

Ryan wanted to zip some welds along the cross bar at the base of the main hoop (which are never on bolt-in cages), as they fit tight to the tub here. But no, that wouldn't be TTD legal. If we go to TT1/2/3/4 with this car, however, it might get some additional tie-ins to the chassis at this location and the B-pillar. If we want to turn this roll bar into a roll cage it would require cutting out the body mounts or removing the roof - and the latter is preferred (swapping to a carbon roof in an E46 isn't as hard as I once thought).

A single diagonal was added into the plane of the main hoop and another diagonal was added from the same junction between the two rear downbars. Two horizontal bars were also added - one at the base of the main hoop and one between the two rear downbars - which are above and beyond a normal bolt-in 4-point roll bar. Everything was TIG welded together other than the plates to the chassis, which were MIG welded to the tub. Much more substantial, and better fitting, than most bolt-in 4-point roll bar kits can offer.

Click the image to open in full size.

Once Ryan had finished the fab work, Brad used ScotchBrite on the entire cage and then cleaned it up for paint. Using paper around everything left on the interior he applied two coats of VHT "Roll Bar & Chassis Paint" in semi-flat black.

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

With the paint drying overnight we could remove the tape and paper and had a pretty damn good looking, custom fitted roll bar. We had test fit seats into the car before the harness bar was added, and even with the seat slid back for me there was no need to "kick" the harness bar back behind the plane of the main hoop.

Click the image to open in full size.

With the roll bar completed Aaron installed the Schroth Profi-II 6-point harnesses into the lap belt (reinforced at floor) and anti-sub (anchored at seat bracket). Then the seats went in and everything was adjusted to fit.

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

Hours before we were going to load up the car to go to TWS, the sticker set of Hoosier R7s arrived and were mounted up on our lone set of 17x10" wheels. I'm worried about only having one set of race wheels - which is just asking for trouble - but with a multi-month backlog for existing orders, we will look at other options. There is a plan in place for "the next two sets" of race wheels, which I will talk about in a future post. These 17x10's will become the practice/street set then.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
Right: Corner weight shown with driver and fuel level as shown.

I blew the dust from fabrication out of the interior, Aaron vacuumed the remaining bits of carpet (in front of the front seats), and Brad washed the exterior before the 330 was loaded into the trailer Friday before the TWS event in April. The rear carpet section would need extensive trimming to fit around the main hoop and lower cross bar so it was left out. The curtain airbags were also removed, as they would be routed over the main hoop at the roof line, possibly making them dangerous if they were deployed in an accident. We weighed the car and the roll bar added about 50 pounds, so two 25 pound plates of ballast were removed (we also had a full tank of fuel in the car).

Click the image to open in full size.

The car is looking better, except for the ratty bumper cover, hammer clearanced rear fenders, and tires touching at all four corners. Gotta work on flares next - but the ones we ordered showed up for the wrong car, so we didn't get them on before TWS. I will show that work soon...

NASA at TWS, APRIL 22-23, 2017

With the fresh set of sticker tires, newly added roll bar + harnesses, and a bit more power than when we ran at TWS last October we towed down to College Station on the Friday before the NASA race weekend to unload the trailer. We parked "on the beach" once again and grabbed some dinner at one of the wide variety of local restaurants, then we went to crash at our friend's. the Costas', where I helped wrench on his GT1 Camaro a little. We started with the #JankyStick to point out the less than perfect things on this car.

Click the image to open in full size.

Which didn't matter - it still set the fastest lap time for the event that weekend, running in TTU. Paul Costas is an old racer buddy who has co-driven together with me in autocrosses and track cars for nearly three decades. He set the fastest lap time in our TTD E46 last October, finding two tenths where I wasn't looking for time at all. Thousands of laps and hundreds of wins at TWS can do that for ya. He's also an excellent "Setup Coach" and if I had the time and money I suspect he'd help us find more time in this car using his data logging skills, real time tire temp array, and driving tips.

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Old 05-12-2017, 03:42 PM   #36
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continued from above

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

The #JankyStick did show real power this weekend, tho - these two cars above got pictured with it: the Miata blew up the motor, and the Acura had all sorts of running issues all weekend. It is with great power comes great responsibility... :D

Click the image to open in full size.

TWS is only run in this configuration now: the 2.9 mile CW circuit. There used to be other configurations and even the CCW direction, but due to the track "winding down" for some years now there haven't been repairs needed to run the other configs. So this is it.

Click the image to open in full size.

And rumor has it that our October 27-29 NASA event here will be the last... but they've been saying this for the last 3 years. Who knows; they stopped doing real maintenance on this track long ago.

Saturday

It was spitting rain when we arrived early to the track Saturday morning, which normally is a good excuse to skip a TT session. But that session is used to grid us up, and there were a LOT of cars, so I went out in the TT Warm-up session with the Hoosiers and wipers on.

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Was looking for a time here to get a good grid position but we didn't even get a full hot lap before the session was black flagged. One TT driver didn't latch his hood - which flew up and smashed into the windshield at the end of pit out. And then one of my TTD competitors (new guy from out of region) in a Honda had a big off after turn 8 and got stuck in the mud. With two wreckers dispatched in the first lap they called the session off before there were any usable lap times.

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

Since nobody had times the first "real" TT session was a crap shoot at grid. I managed to get there early and finished 14th quickest of the session and also ran my quickest time of the weekend - a 1:58.172. That was surprising because it was still spitting rain on the out lap, but it was drying quickly. It took me a few laps to get heat into the tires and clear some slower traffic ahead of me (TT3 M3) but the ambient temps were still cool and that usually means "good times" are possible.

Click the image to open in full size.
This video shows the new TTD lap record at TWS - note rain on windshield

That was a new track record by almost a second, so I was happy with that. It was overcast, windy, and cold and Amy could have made some laps but she decided to wait and drive the car on Sunday when the sun was supposed to come out. New record means I was sent straight to scales, where it weighed 3246 pounds - about 40 pounds over our declared weight.

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

The AiM was showing a 1:57.95 lap but the AMB and TrackAddict timers were both showing slower times in the 1:58.1 range. After looking at the video closely I have manually marked the Start/Finish line for TWS about 100 feet later than reality on the AiM. I probably set that up 4-5 years ago, so I'll purge the "manual map" I made for TWS and download one from AiM with a more accurate S/F line.

I went out in the 3rd session but was again stuck behind the same M3 - slow in the corners but motored away on the straights. At TWS there are a number of big straights, too. He finally let me by but it took many laps crowding his mirrors. Backing off to build a gap didn't help, as I'd be in the way of cars behind me. I skipped session 4 due since it was warming up so much.

Fellow TT racer Mark showed me his Track Addict data and app setup and convinced me to try it on my phone. I ran it in a couple of sessions that day, and with the settings tweaked right was pretty accurate. The times were within a tenth of the AMB loop, which on this track was more accurate than my AiM lap times.

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

The video it produced was super-shaky-cam due to a RAM X-grip mount that "rocks" in use. It was nice seeing the instant feedback of lateral g, speeds, etc. I ordered a new mount plus a OBDLinkMX wi-fi and Bluetooth module to both datalog and stream data to my phone. If I can get the phone to record video smoothly I might switch to this for lap videos - it sure is easier than recording video on a vidcam, logging data on the AiM, removing via RaceStudio2, merging video and data in DashWare or RaceRender, then editing the final video in Pinnacle Studio.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
Left: The $45 RAM X-grip mount is TERRIBLE for taking video. Right: This $15 "squeeze" mount produces rock solid video.

Just ordered an array of cheap suction cup phone holders + RAM bolt-down ball-mount bases and arms to hold a phone in a race car. I'll try these plus the OBD data module and Track Addict app on my phone at our next track event, and might switch to my old faithful Sony VidCam mounted on the new roll bar too.

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

We stuck around for the NASA party, ate bar-b-q and received our 2016 Regional TTD championship (attendance?) award, plus the trophy for winning the TTD class of 3 on Saturday. We didn't set a single TTD track record in 2016 but we're 2 for 2 in 2017, showing the progression of our E46's capabilities. Its just so easy to drive now that even a hack autocrosser can smash class records.

Sunday

Got too the track early to help Costas prep his GT1 car. He had run a 1:40.914 TTU lap record and win on Saturday and logged wins in both SU races as well - and he did the same thing on Sunday, even fighting some small issues.

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

Went out in the first session at 55F, again cloudy and cold, and stuck in traffic the entire session where I only managed 1:58.336 - passing 2 cars on my best lap. The BMW had a bit of a "push" all weekend but I didn't run enough sessions to get to dialing it out - I kept blaming it on a green/cold track. Several other racers noted the same thing - but there were still new track records times in many classes.

Sunday results: http://timingscoring.drivenasa.com/N...20Day%20v2.pdf

After my first TT session I came in, Amy hopped into the right seat and we went out in the HPDE4 session - where she actually rode for two whole laps before she had enough! ;) This hasn't happened in years - she hates riding with me. I was taking some tame 2:01 laps to show her the lines, braking points, and grip levels.

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

We came right back in and went to grid and switched seats, then she drove the HPDE3 session - 3rd session in a row for the car, back-to-back. With some coaching she got down to a 2:05 lap pretty quickly and ran that consistently. The places where I had time on her in the car were all in high speed braking sections. She's just not yet as comfortable in this car as I am, as she has a fraction of the laps in the E46 as I do.

She took the rest of the HPDE 4 sessions that weekend and had a blast. She even did some lead follow laps with one of our customers, showing him the line. The brakes did great with all of this hot lapping, and the Powerbrake pads still have 3/4 pad life left after ~14 months of track abuse.

Lessons Learned: I managed to come in from the track "hot" once in this crazy sequence of driver swaps and that let the pads sit on BAKING hot rotors for a few minutes, which put some pad deposits onto the rotors. Once back on track that now feels like warped rotors. We need to get this stuff off (turn the rotors) or replace the Powerbrake rotor rings, soon. Always need to do a cool down lap to shed brake heat, with any kind of brakes.

Click the image to open in full size.
With -3.8 camber up front we're still seeing significant bodyroll - maybe time for more spring rate

I also noticed some significant front tire lock-up on the LF tire when braking into the high speed left hand Turn 1, slowing from 125 mph in this off camber corner. It shouldn't do this with ABS, but as you can see at full tilt cornering the inside tire is barely touching the ground. We are seeing 1.3-1.4g lateral loading and its causing more bodyroll than I think is appropriate, even with 600F/750R spring rates. I will have the crew here crank up the swaybar settings, but it might be time to jump to higher spring rates, especially once we add aero and/or wider tires to this car (more on a potential "class jump" later). We ran 750F/900R on the blue 330 on 285 Hoosier A6 tires before and it worked great.

I also felt too much tire rub on the rear fenders in several corners (T1, T4, T9) due to excessive suspension travel and insufficient fender room. Its time to flare this car, and if the parts had shown up in time this would have been done before this event. I will show this "next major mod" next time.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
Left: Jeff's Miata in our trailer and Right: driving our E46 to Dallas

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: After Amy ran the last HPDE4 session we were going to put it into the trailer, but one of our TT competitors (Jeff) blew the motor in his NB Miata, and he had no way to get it back 3+ hours north to Dallas. So another racer loaned us street wheels/tires and those were mounted to the E46, which he drove back while his Miata was in our trailer. Not really the street use we had in mind for this "daily driven track car" but he said it was a comfy ride, radio cranked and AC blowing cold. He commented "I'd daily this setup" and "It makes a lot of torque."

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
Left: Saturday end of day TT results (unsorted). Right: Sunday end of day TT results (sorted)

Overall the results from this NASA race weekend were good - Day 1 we won by 8 seconds, day 2 by 5. So we're not really getting pushed anymore, which is frustrating. And with less than 5 competitors in TTD once again we failed to win any tires. We seem to be stuck in a pattern now, but maybe that changes next time, who knows?

Click the image to open in full size.

We were once again fastest for TTD class and quicker than TTE, which is pretty strong in our region. Without "maxing out" the car for TTD I'm happy with that.

NO TIRES = SWITCH FROM TTD TO TT4?

At this TWS event TT4 class once again "made a class" (5 min) with 5 cars (mostly S2000s). A win there both days would bring home 4 free Hoosiers. Heck at most events this class has enough (7+) to bring home 1 tire for 2nd place each day, too. Granted they were 5.4 seconds ahead of us, but its a logical transition. TT4 would allow a splitter, wing, LSD, 275mm tires, and more power... gotta run the numbers and see if it makes sense. But our "not-maxed-out" TTD car is already ahead of many of the TT4 cars at most events now...

Click the image to open in full size.

The TT-Number classes are much more likely to stabilize, whereas the TT-Letter classes have had rules changes and disappearing classes.... they will all be gone eventually. There is just too much points gaming you gotta do to be fast in TT-Letter, and it often pares the potential candidates down to few or even one chassis. We would have a LOT more freedom to show "what we can build" in TT-Number classes, and the E46 would be a LOT faster, too. Winning TTD and setting track records is nice, finally, but having to race in a car that is this slow relative to the rest of the field... is. Killing. ME.

For now we tenatively plan to keep this car in TTD for NASA @ COTA May 26-28 and NASA @ Hallett on June 24-25. If we keep doing well in TTD we might wrap up the Texas region class championship by then. So... maybe during the summer break we could make the switch? Its a possibility, and I'm itching to make this car a lot faster. Jumping up 2+ classes and losing the "points" handicap could allow this E46 to speed up.

WHAT'S NEXT?

On the long drive to Dallas the power steering pump broke once again (3rd time!) so we researched a better brand replacement and installed that. We also received the E46 Non-M 2-door flares from HARD Motorsport, and those were installed. I'll show that work next time.

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

We just did an SCCA Club Trials event on May 7th at MSR-Cresson running the 1.7 course CW, which is backwards from what most groups do. I drove the 330 there, instructed 2 students, plus drove 3 other cars. Busy weekend, but again excellent results. I will cover what we learned there next time. And now we have less than 3 weeks until NASA @ COTA, so we will go over the car carefully before we run at this HIGH speed track. There are also a few "mod wish list" items we might try to tackle, too.

Until next time,
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Old 06-10-2017, 04:05 PM   #37
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Project Update for June 9th, 2017: We did 3 track events as well as another round of upgrades to our #DailyDrivenTrackCar. As we expected going into this project, as the car gets faster the compromises to street use multiply. Its still streetable at this point but after the next round it might not be. Two more competition track events and a track test day since my last update. This included an SCCA Club Trials event on May 7th at MSR-Cresson, a test day at MSR (only took one session in the 330, then coached in another car), and a NASA race weekend at COTA May 27-27th.

Click the image to open in full size.

We also installed the HARD Motorsport flares, which finally let me push the car HARD at COTA (see above) without tire rub. The flares fit very well - I wish we had done these sooner. We fixed the power steering pump (#3) that broke on the long drive back from TWS last time. We have also started an "investigative tear down" of a complete M54 engine looking for more: displacement, power, and reliability. If/when we move up to TT4 we will need a good bit more power and I'd like to keep a Naturally Aspirated it M54 under the hood.

POWER STEERING PUMPS BE TRIPPIN!

This is the third time we've had to replace a power steering pump in this 330 and I don't know what's killing them. They always break on the street, not on track, so its not curb jumping (which I don't do) or high RPMs that is killing them. We've used a rebuilt CarDone (cheap Chinese brand), rebuilt AC Delco, and now this new Allied Atlantic Enterprises unit.

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

I'm hoping the slightly more expensive NEW unit lasts longer than the rebuilt ones we have failed before. Its not a difficult or expensive fix, just getting tired of it happening. This brand has better reviews for E46 pumps so we'll see how long it lasts.

FENDER FLARING OPTIONS - DIFFERING TECHNIQUES

This section is long, and some folks might not understand why "covering a tire" could take up this much text. I try to show a lot of examples of flaring race cars before we get to the actual flare install on our red 330, detailed in the next sub-section.

Why flare? The two most important aspects to make a car faster on a road course or autocross include: Power-to-Weight and Tire Width-to-weight ratios. Many people understand the first ratio but ignore the importance of the second. Tire-to-weight is even more important in autocross, but still very important to road course times.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
18x10.5" wheels and 295 Hoosier A7s on NC MX5 Miata, which we added flares to

Adding tire width to drop lap times is something often overlooked but we've fought "internet wisdom" over the last 30 years of racing on autocross and road race courses by using ever wider tires. We STILL get the Debbie Doubters that say "you won't get enough heat in that tire!" or "that wide tire will slow you down!". We have not yet found the limit to "too much tire width" on our builds. The 180 whp Miata above got faster with each tire width upgrade, our TT3 Mustang RAN OUT OF TIRE OPTIONS at 345mm and got faster in each jump as we went from from 255-345mm tire widths, etc. I can name dozens other cars we have built/raced/tested that people told us would "slow down" with wider tires, and yet kept getting faster, easier to drive, and longer lasting.

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

My friends who race a V6 powered Firebird in WRL (see above - we built some systems on this car) just did a great tire test. Day one at a 2 day endurance race weekend they ran a 275mm tire (new Conti), and wore them out. Day two at the same event/same drivers they ran the 315mm sized tire I begged them to use from the beginning (on a worse compound - Falken). The 315s were faster, are projected to last about 4 times longer, and the car was easier to drive. They can pass Miatas in turns and outbrake everything. Just another of many examples where "bigger is better" with respect to tires. We don't even argue this anymore - the timers don't lie. WIDER IS BETTER.

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

The Firebird can swallow 315s under stock fenders with the right tweaks, as can a few other cars. But sometimes getting wider tires to FIT UNDER FENDERS (ie: not poking!) takes a lot of work. Sometimes people are just lazy and use a wheel with the wrong offset - like the two cars above (which can tuck 11" wide custom wheels correctly but the common is an 18x10.5" that pokes). About half the cars I see on "big tires" are sticking past the fenders, but the owners often try to say otherwise. If they are honest with themselves they know that if they drive the car hard the fenders will cut into the tires, which causes handling issues and potentially can damage the fender or tire.

I've done it myself - I'm by no means perfect - but each time I paid the price. I either compromised the alignment setup or ride height to try to prevent tire rub, or just dealt with the tire rub - like we have for over a year on this red 330. But tire poking is bad, and we need to call out friends when they are trying to justify their pokey wheel fitments. #SayNoToPoke

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
Left: This C6Z06 has 18x12" wheels we had built on 335mm tires. Right: C7GS comes with 20x12" rears and 335s

Some car makers are waking up to the realization that tire width works. The hotted up Shelby GT350, 1LE Camaro, and GS/Z06 Corvettes come with wider tires - and they are faster for it.

Click the image to open in full size.
Left: C6 Z06 with 315 front, 345mm rear tires

Then there are the BIG tires... 335, 345, or even 355mm. Very few cars come with enough extra fender width to fit these massive sizes. That's one of the biggest advantages to cars like the C6 Z06 is that they can swallow 335 (front) and 345mm (rear) tires without any fender work. Driving these cars on massive tires is just: easier and faster. There's no situation with turns involved where these cars would be faster on narrower tires.

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

To fit bigger tires you often need to cut and modify fenders for clearance. We get a lot of questions about fender flares because I've done a lot of BMW flares myself and have shared a lot of pictures in several galleries and on dozens of forums of various methods to flare a car. Over the past 13 years Vorshlag has grown and now we have proper fabricators that know their craft and can do sheet metal work beyond what I ever could, so we tackle tougher flare jobs that other shops can't. We have also learned more about aero drag, fender/hood venting, and other aspects that have changed the way we make flares since our early days.

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

Sometimes a "widebody" cut-and-splice is the better option, or traditional "box flares" that widen more than half the body - and we've done that also. This tends to work on cars that are already "boxy", like the E30 and GD Impreza above.

Some of you have seen the custom flares we have built on various cars in previous build threads, like these below on our TT3 Mustang (to clear 335mm tires). The rears are bigger to clear our NASA TT3 rear tire (345 Hoosier A7), so they look a bit oversized in the image below.

Click the image to open in full size.

The front flares were made from 18 gauge steel by our fabricator Ryan at approx 10 hours per side. These were improved from a previous design I had helped build with a steel/fiberglass mold and thermoformed ABS plastic flares, which I sheared off in a crash at Road Atlanta (the patched up plastic flares are visible in the picture below at left, in red). The new steel flares could take cone hits much better, which was useful for autocross events we ran in this car (Optima and SCCA).

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

We are currently building something even wilder for for a customer's V8 E46 M3 now (for 335F, 345R tires), which is talked about in this build thread (which I linked to before).

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

This is one has a bit of over-the-top styling but that matches the utter ridiculousness of this whole project. On a car getting the biggest wing, the widest DOT Hoosiers, and with a giant 7.7L V8 making 700+ whp, you don't do "just whatever works" - you go big on the flares.

Click the image to open in full size.

The thing is custom flares like these take a LOT of fabrication time to make, plus they always require bodywork and paint. So on our 330 I was looking at costs - It gets a bit spendy, even for a shop owner. Every hour we are working on a "shop car" still costs $105/hour in lost income - because we have more backlog than we can complete.

On my previous blue TTD/DSP E46 330 - a car I made a number of mistakes on, which we are rectifying with this build - I flared the front myself. This car was built around an 18x10" wheel and 285/30/18 tire at all four corners, which was legal at the time for TTD.

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

I showed how we first rolled then flared the fenders on this E46 in this gallery. By grafting new E46 M3 front fenders (which are way more expensive now!) with small sections of factory 330 front fenders it made for an SCCA legal "flared fender".

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

This took a number of hours to fab up cleanly, then some bodywork and paint to make pretty. I did all of the fab work at 2 am the night before an SCCA National event, but the paint work came later. The rear was another story...

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

Initially I just hoped to roll the rears enough to clear the big tires. First I mounted a 265/35/18 onto the 18x10" wheel, and with aggressive rolling that fit. Of course I had to grind the "gunk" out of the rear fender joint first. This is where 3 layers of sheet metal join up on the rear unibody to form the fender lip, which has a big lip. The factory fills this lip with hardened "goo" that you have to chisel out with tools and grinders.

Click the image to open in full size.
Clearing these relatively narrow 265/35/18 Yokohama Race tires with 18x10" wheels only took fender rolling

Aggressive fender rolling at both ends (plus the "grinding of the goo" on the rear lips) was enough to clear the 265s and it didn't tear up the paint at all. I ran the car like this for a number of months but it needed more tire to be competitive in DSP and TTD, and since I had the TT points... it was time to swing some hammers.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
It was ugly and took a lot of hammer swings but we made the rear fenders clear a 285/30/18

I beat the piss out of the rear fenders to clear the 285mm tires. Hours of swinging a 5 pound sledge hammer from the inside. Full swings, till your shoulders and arms hurt, banging away. It distorted the whole rear fender, and my paint and body guy begged me to NEVER do this again.

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

My bodyman fixed all of my hammering sins (above) but it took a lot of hours of massaging, fab work, and filler on his part to clean it up. It has held up for many years since, but I never liked the disparity in how different the front and rear fenders looked. This time I vowed to "do it right".

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

Flaring the rear fenders correctly on a unibody car involves a lot more work than just "cutting the fender lips off" like the front. It takes hours of cutting, moving metal, checking bump travel of the tire, then patching the rear fender sheet metal back together. I've done this on a number of cars and it is never fun. There are 2 or 3 layers of sheet metal that have to be cut and re-joined with more clearance. We'll show more of that below.

Click the image to open in full size.

This picture above shows my old blue 330 and my current red 330. The blue car is on 275s and has tons of tire clearance to the fenders. The red car is on 245s and is rubbing in big corners. Time to fix this...

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FLARING OUR RED 330 FOR 275MM TIRES

Let's cover the flares we picked for our 330 - which should work for both TTD (wide 245mm) and TT4 (275mm).

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

As you know we fit the these freakishly wide 245/40/17 Hoosiers (9.7" of tread width) onto custom spec'd 17x10" wheels early on. The TTD class points pretty much limit us to a 245mm tire and this was the widest option out there in a competitive compound. For the last season and a half we have been seeing tire-to-fender rub when the car takes a bump on track or if I rub the FIA curbing. Sometimes it does it on flat pavement - like when I have the car loaded up transitioning into a corner, the rear fender can sometimes grab a tire and make the car rotate violently. This has kept me from pushing the car consistently - it can make that level of grip in sustained corners with a gentle entry.

Click the image to open in full size.

Because this issue is holding the car back, the fender interference had to be addressed. I never suspected I'd need to flare an E46 with only a 245mm tire, but this is really wide when mounted on a 10" wide wheel. The front fender is rubbing also, just not as badly as the rear. BMW makes the fender lips lower on rear fenders of a lot of their cars, so the rear tire "tucks" under the lip much sooner than the fronts (see above). And the rear is much harder to flare... we'll get to that below.

After running the numbers on making custom flares, and test fitting the generic eBay junk, we settled on flares made precisely for this car model from HARD Motorsport.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
HARD Motorsport E46 flares, which come in 4 door and 2 door versions (Left = Sedan, Right = Coupe)

These thermoformed ABS plastic flares built in the USA, and being a HARD dealer we wanted to try them out ourselves. We purchased kits for both a 4 door E46 Sedan as well as another for our 2 door E46 Coupe; I'll show the sedan flares being installed on the E46 328 "Track Rat" project in a later post (also getting 17x10" wheels). These fit really well around the stock body panels of the non-M E46 chassis, even the factory trim, yet provide clearance similar to the E46 M3 fenders.

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

We've already hammered the rear fenders more than I wanted to on this red 330, which I've shown in previous updates. This was done in stages and each time I had to push it more I was worried about the bodywork bill that would inevitably come when we had finished the clearancing and committed to a tire long enough to get this car to paint. Those sections would be cut off or covered by the HARD flares, which we could have painted off the car (avoiding bodywork and an expensive "full respray").

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

I wrote a post to show the installation details but will summarize it here: first the front flares were test fit and the outer edges marked. The offending fender lips were then cut off to add more room for bump travel for the front tires. Ryan then mocked up, marked, and drilled the fronts for bolt holes. Normally folks will rivet these on but we wanted something that made them removable, so in the shot above Clecos were used to temporarily hold them in place before we added threaded inserts to the sheet metal.

Click the image to open in full size.

If we were making custom flares we'd cover the leading edges of the tires to reduce aero drag - a spinning tire in the air stream is bad - but the TT-Letter rules don't allow canards, tire walls, or "proper" flares that extend to the front like this without taking points. Which we don't have to spend now. What about TT4? The rules there are also very limited with respect to aero and don't allow canards at all. So we just needed a "traditional" set of flares here - that cover the top of the tire. We wanted them to be big enough to cover a 275mm tire, for when we move up to TT4, too. So that made these HARD Motorsport flares perfect for this build.

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

After the front fenders were cut it was time to cut the rears - no more hammers. After briefly mocking up the flares out back, Ryan marked the cut line (blue tape) and then cut the fender lips off again. This left a gap in the rear fenders that needed to be patched and welded back together.

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

The rear fender clearancing and patch work is by far the hardest part of any flare job, but one most folks gloss over. The images above are from the E46 M3 we're building around a 345mm rear tire and shows the details better. The fender is cut WAY up and away from the protruding tire - adding enough bump travel to keep the tire from rubbing. The 3 layers of sheet metal are then patched and welded together. Then the area is primed with paint suitable for raw steel. Removing the paint and undercoating beforehand is the messiest part of the job, of course.

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

The flares are formed well and "self-fixture" themselves to these cars - they go on one obvious way. Once they were taped in place Ryan laid out the hole spacing, drilled through the flare and fender, then added the Clecos temporarily.

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

Since we want the flares easily removable, we added nutserts to the holes instead of rivets. With the fender side holes enlarged, nutserts were installed with a special threaded rivet gun, which expands the threaded insert behind the sheet metal securing it in place. This was done to all flare locations, and even plastic front bumper cover mounting holes - we used a different type of expanding nutsert for use with plastic or fiberglass there. Pro tip: coating the inside of the nutsert with epoxy helps keep them from spinning in place once installed.

Click the image to open in full size.

With the final threaded hardware installed the flares were done - total installation time was 11.51 hours, including the welding of the rear unibody and some "follow up" clearance work after the Club Trials event below. Making custom flares can take 10 hours a corner, plus bodywork and paint, so this was a much more cost effective flare install. We can unbolt them for paint, repair, etc. We used stainless countersunk M4 bolts to thread into the M4 nutserts with countersnk stainless Tinnerman washers to spread the load. With everything bolted in place the car now has much more tire clearance and was ready for a track test.

SCCA Club Trials at MSR 1.7 CW, May 7, 2017

This was another SCCA Club Trials / PDX event that the Texas Region SCCA held at MSR-Cresson. These events are their way of breaking into the Time Trial / HPDE type of ladder system that NASA has integrated so well into their club racing weekends, but the SCCA is keeping these separate from their club race events - for now.

Photo gallery: https://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-...CW-May-7-2017/

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

In the past the SCCA has tried to just lump all cars into one Club Trials group but they have wisely moved to a tiered HPDE system, using the traditional Green/Blue/Yellow/Red. The Green PDX 1 (total noobs) and Blue PDX 2 (some track experience) groups had instructors, with Yellow (Club Trials) and Red (Instructors/Club Trials) run in separate groups. I applaud the move to standard tiered groups and hope they can continue to grow their events - and hopefully someday integrate these into their Club Racing weekends.

Click the image to open in full size.

At this event they ran the 1.7 mile MSR course ClockWise, or backwards from the normal direction. The track isn't really paved to run this way (runoff curbing isn't there) but the 1.7 CW it isn't completely unheard of, so we entered to support the event and get some seat time in this configuration. I signed up as an instructor and was assigned TWO students, one in PDX1 and one in PDX2. Neither had ever been on track, but at least my PDX2 student was a skilled autocrosser and she did great.

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

This group still has the instructors drive the student's cars for a couple of laps in the first session, which I don't like to do (and isn't allowed anymore in many HPDE groups) but I went along with the program. At least this black 328is was a car we had worked on extensively at Vorshlag - it was shop manager Brad Maxcy's car, and the student in question was his wife Jen, who I know well. I took two "75% laps" and showed her the line, which I knew from previous 1.7 CW events. Then we came into the hot pits, switched places, and she drove again for the rest of the day. I did the same with a 3rd gen Viper owner in PDX1 and rode through with both of them in every session that day. The order was Instruct/Rest/Instruct/Drive... then repeat 5 times.

Click the image to open in full size.

There were 65 entries and 44 in Club Trials, so it was busy on track. 44 is an impressive TT number even for NASA, and at this SCCA event they broke us up into two run groups (Yellow and Red). For results they lumped cars together in classes based on SCCA autocross categories, then used an autocross PAX factor to equalize the times... its kind of silly, but until they get some sort of direction from National office on real CT classes its what they do. I will let the meme above speak for itself...

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

Come to find out I was in the largest class of 8 "Street Prepared" cars, which my TTD car fits into best (DSP). I was joined in this category by faster SSP, BSP, CSP, and ESP cars as well as two other DSP cars. I was effectively in the slowest PAX "class" within the SP category for track cars and I figured I'd get clobbered in my little 245mm R7 equipped BMW with 220 whp, but we'd check both raw and these "PAX factored" times and see how we did after the event.

Click the image to open in full size.

Turns out the little 330 did all right! Only 3 cars at this event posted faster lap times: Ken O's TT3 E46 M3 (80.635), John Wallace's TTC classed S2000 (81.962), and Feras' CAM-S classed C6 Z06 (82.851 - which I also drove). We've worked on 2 of these 3 cars at Vorshlag, and Wallace is blazing fast in TTC, so I was pretty happy with that list.

Click the image to open in full size.
The best lap of the day is in this video

The video shows some of session 2 in our red 330, and on lap 8 I ran my best lap of the day at 84.566 (1:24.566), before the weather turned unseasonably warm (shot up to 88F). We had a lot of traffic so it was difficult to get a quick lap in. I ran again in sessions 3, 4, and 5 but by then the track temps were too - mostly I was just giving students rides. This was the "fresh" set of tires we purchased and ran for TWS (and the May MSR track test/coaching day I am not showing) and I needed to save them for at least 1 more event (COTA), but when my own students ask for rides I'm a softie and always give in.

Watching that video and listening to my audio notes a month later it almost seems like it was a bit more frustrating of a day than I now remember - but I'm still glad I went. Sure the timers didn't work in the first session, the traffic was pretty bad, I fought all day for a clear lap, and I didn't get a moment's rest. The Club Trial group was also very different from a NASA TT group. Some were NASA TT folks and you could tell - they made it easier to pass when there were cars behind them. Others here had less situational awareness and were tougher to pass. Our TTD car is far from "fast" and I'm lucky to be gridded mid-pack in NASA, but being 4th fastest of the day here kind of shows where this group is. But SCCA Club Trials is new in North Texas and the roster of CT racers will only grow and get faster.

http://www.texasscca.org/trials/

This is where I'd normally point you to the schedule for this new series. But today as I write this, the Texas Region SCCA page for PDX/Club Trials has no schedule listed, no dates, and the results from this event are not posted (almost a month later). The schedule is kind of important, let me make some phone calls.

REMAINING 2017 CLUB TRIALS SCHEDULE for TEXAS REGION SCCA:
  • August 26, PDX and Club Trials, MSR-Cresson 1.3 mile
  • November 18-19, 2 day Club Trials event on the CLUB RACE WEEKEND

Got this list via text from someone in the SCCA, and I suspect it will end up on their website eventually. Looks like they are moving to merge CT and Club Racing on the same weekend (November), which is a smart move both for financial reasons (shared insurance/track rental costs) as well as the "getting all of the racers together in one place to breed more Club Racers" reasons. Emulate what works so well with NASA = brilliant. August in Texas is beyond hot so I doubt I'll make that event on the 1.3 mile MSR-C course, not to mention passing there is nearly impossible. Maybe if we get a Cool Suit system in the car, we'll see.

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

In one of the yellow groups I also drove this Corvette C6 Z06, which we've worked on at Vorshlag. This is a car with coilover Penske's, heads/cam/headers upgrade, and 18x12" wheels (which we spec'd) and 335mm Rival-S tires square. We also recently installed a prototype Powerbrake BBK up front, which I really needed to feel/drive on track before we told Powerbrake to release this new prototype fitment.

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

Well the brakes WORKED WELL, and so did the handling, and so did the power. Driving this car broke something inside of me... but in a good way. I hooned TF out of this car. Man, it was a religious experience. Amy and I custom ordered a 2005 Z51 when these first came out in 2004, and the temptation to buy another C6 is strong. When my C4 Corvette race car sells it might happen.

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

The day of this event started in at z brisk 59F but ended at a sweltering 88F. I ran 5 sessions in the BMW (giving ride-alongs after lunch), plus the two student cars, plus the C6 Z06, and then rode with students a lot in 8 or 9 sessions. I was a little light on my water intake and got pretty wiped out from the heat. Still, it was a lot of fun - especially those handful of laps in the Z06. The right rear tire was still touching the fender a bit on the 330, so that was on the list to inspect after this event.
Click the image to open in full size.

Our trailer became the "run heat posting" board for this event, so I kept all of the run heat printed times after the event. The fastest laps were all done in Red heat #2. Again, I was just happy to be 4th fastest of the event in a little TTD prepped 330 - we don't get to say that often!

REAR BUMPER & FLARE ADJUSTMENTS

We got back from the Club Trials event and the main issue noted there was the tire rub at the rear. Turns out they weren't touching on the fenders or the flares.

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

Ryan removed the rear bumper cover and trimmed the leading edges where they meet the fenders, which is where the rub was. We'll keep an eye on this and might need to trim more.

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

There are rear bumper relocation brackets that come with the kit, but we didn't see them helping so we left them off fr now. We might swap these in if there's still rub happening here. On BMW E36 rear flares I've done in the past I did space the bumper way out to match the flares I built but these HARD Motorsport rear flares don't have a lot of added width in the rear, and they line up fine now.

MODS TO THE 328i SEDAN - OPERATION TRACK RAT

We picked up this 1999 328i two years back to possibly build into a ChumpCar or WRL endurance race car, but shortly after buying it our priorities changed. Since then we've been slowly turning this into a dual purpose track/street car with some new or lightly used parts from other projects. This car recently sold and the new owner wants even more track prep done, so I'll start to show a the upgrades in the next handful of thread posts.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
Left: The initial weight was 3229 pounds. Right: 2.5 hours later the weight was 2795 pounds.

Weight reduction is the easiest way to make a race car faster, and this E46 sedan is a good example of getting a lot of weight out in a short amount of time. In only a few hours this E46 lost 430 pounds, which is a tremendous amount for $0. Of course we would need to replace the front seats, which we did below.

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

This 430 weight loss included the front and rear seats, the carpet, headliner and door panels. At 2795 pounds the car still had 100% of the factory exhaust, the entire AC system was still there and functional, heavy 17x8" wheels, 72 pounds of sunroof, and all of the glass. Normally it takes about 6 hours to strip all of this out but there were 3 people and they made quick work of it.

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

Next up was more weight loss, this time in the power retracting sunroof cassette. This was removed in about half an hour and it weighed a staggering 72.0 pounds. Removing this + the headliner adds 3-4" of additional headroom which is super useful for taller drivers. All of this weight is at the highest part of the car as well. We have a little post showing install tips on this carbon sunroof delete panel in more detail.

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

What went back in was this dry carbon fiber sunroof delete panel from AJ Hartman Racing. We've used a number of these on E46 chassis and it only weighs 1.4 pounds. This is real deal, Motorsports dry carbon part, so it has minimal epoxy and no glossy gel coat (weight) added. It needs to be painted, wrapped, or clear coated before it sees sun/rain.

Click the image to open in full size.

There is a flange for bolt holes around the perimeter, but you need to be extra careful on the rear as there are no factory holes to use. Self tapping screws need to be VERY short or you risk poking into the roof sheet metal. Ask me how I know...

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

I have a LOT more prep to show on this 328i next time, but to summarize we have added: 330 brakes, Bilstein coilover suspension, Powerflex bushings, rear subframe reinforcement, roll bar, racing seats & Schroth harnesses, custom aluminum door panels/center console/false floors, Magnaflow exhaust, Jongbloed 3-piece wheels, and more. And before the next installment it will have: new balancer, oil pump shaft, oil pan baffle, HARD Motorsport flares, 17x10" wheels, and a few more goodies.

NASA AT COTA May 27-28, 2017

Got a lot to cover and not much space left in this post. I'll summarize: I signed up for COTA with fairly low expectations of this track being fun. I had only run parade laps on 2 occasions before. It felt like driving anything slower than an F1 car here would be boring. I was wrong. With 20 turns, lots of elevation changes, and tons of challenges this place is a mind bender. We got to paddock inside their beautiful facility, had some great racing, endured some hot weather, but left with a huge smile on my face.

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

We loaded up the 330 and towed down to Austin in Clifford (the big red truck), with Amy I leaving Dallas at 12:30 Friday. Due to Memorial Day weekend traffic and never-ending highway construction from Dallas to Austin we didn't get there until 6 pm. Should be a 3 hour drive with no traffic, but "traffic" soon became a theme of the weekend.

Click the image to open in full size.
NASA paddock at COTA panoramic pic

We did get lucky and managed to find one of the last open spots in the paddock, near the garages. We quickly parked and unhooked the trailer, unloaded the 330, then moved all of our stuff into the garage space we rented. Not something we normally do but someone suggested early on that this would be an ideal spot to watch races from - as the F1 garages back into the pit lane on the front straight. There were also air conditioned "Driver's lounges" right off our garage, which was next to the massive video control room. The garage rental was a wise choice.

Click the image to open in full size.
Our garage preview video - showing the insane machines parked next to our lowly 330

Each F1 style double garage was shared by up to 8 cars, which made for one hilarious discrepancy in the level of machinery we had in our two units... there was a GT4 classed McLaren, three GT3, Cayman race car, C7 GS, and our janky E46! I went over to driver info and ask "Are you sure you have us in the right spot??" Due to the average costs differences, the #JankyStick got a workout - with our own car.

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

We had a LOT of racers in W2W and TT (NASA Texas record), and HPDE3-4 was fairly busy, but HPDE1-2 had fairly low attendance (18) - probably due to the $1200 entry fee for Saturday Sunday (most HPDE groups charge $900 for a weekend here). It was another $500 to run Friday's test day, so we skipped that and I thought "I'll just pick up this course as I race". Big mistake - this was a tough track to learn for me. Skipping Friday's warm-up probably cost me a couple of seconds...

COTA Event Photo Gallery: https://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-...A-COTA-052717/

We took a number of pictures, videos, and bought the digital images for the good track stuff from MohFlo. Gallery above has what we got.

Saturday TT

There was an EARLY Instructors meeting at 7 am, then a quick TT meeting where a lot of out-of-region racers joined us. We literally had entries at this event from every single NASA region in USA + some racers from Mexico and other countries. The weather was very overcast early and the forecast was for rain all weekend, but we lined up on grid and went out in the first TT session, the Warm-up. Here times are taken but only used for gridding purposes in the next session. I stayed out a while and was mired in traffic, only running a 2:46 lap. Very frustrating, I was lost and not in the groove at all.

Click the image to open in full size.

I called Paul Costas and asked him for some pointers for this track, which he has raced in W2W (WRL), in his GT1 Camaro, in his 911, and more. Paul sent me a link to a video of one of his laps at this track in a WRL car (#TeamPontini) and walked me through each corner. I will share what I can remember from his coaching... if there are any mistakes they are mine.

COTA TRACK TRICKS - The main thing is to exploit the generous, paved track limits and to setup well for a number of critical corners that are linked by previous corners. The braking point into T1 (see below) required extremely late braking. As you head up the steep hill after the front straight it helps you slow down just from the vertical elevation. If you brake before the 100 foot mark it was too soon.

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

The esses (see below) in T3/T4/T5 should be ATTACKED, and the first two should be taken nearly at WOT with as much red/white curbing as you can get without touching the big yellow curbs. Then T6 has to be compromised for a good line into T7 (use plenty of track limits out), and T8 compromised for T9 (with lots of track out). T10 can be short cut almost to the grass on the inside, which cuts off distance on the short chute down to the critical T11.

Click the image to open in full size.

Turn T11 is super important because it is tight, located before a long straight, and requires a VERY late braking at the 100 foot mark or later. BIG yellow curbs on the exit you have to avoid, though. T12 and T15 are also both tight, slow corners and unforgiving, with T13 and T14 linked. The BIG right-hander sequence at the base of the "tower" for T16-T18 is FAST, but you have to prepare for a sizable bump exiting T18 (not an issue with good dampers). T19 is super critical - most people brake hard, downshift and take the corner too slowly. You can find a lot of time if you keep your speed up through this corner, track out WAY past the rumbles, and just miss the inside yellow curb at the apex. T20 is tight and slow, and it will bite you if you go wide on exit with more big yellow curbs - but is right before another long straight, so you gotta get it right.

There are BIG yellow curbs (see below left) that are bolted to the track surface for some events like this one, and hitting those can put your car airborne, bend wheels, or pound the underside of your car. One car supposedly drove over one of these, busted an oil line loose, and cause a major car-b-q. I rode along with Amy when she clobbered these on the exit of T20 and T11 both, making me lose my mind. My HPDE1 student hit the ones in T20 also, putting us in the air. They will BITE!

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

I coached right seat with Amy (above right) in one session Saturday and another Sunday; she co-drove the 330 in HPDE4 all weekend. She rode along with me in an HPDE4 session for a few laps on Sunday, so I could show her the line, track limits, and braking points. I had a student who I rode with on 6 of his 8 sessions and then I took him for a ride-along on Sunday in HPDE4 also. I drove 6 of the 8 possible TT sessions, as I really needed to learn this track. Temps both days creeping up past 96F and humidity you could cut with a knife. The hectic schedule combined with the heat drained me - I was pounding water and Gatorade both days but just couldn't get fluids in fast enough. I need to start to "pre-hydrate" on the days before.

Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.
Left: Lordy this LMP with an LS engine was fast!! 2:08 lap times?! Right: Mike was flying in AI at 2:30s

continued below
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Old 06-10-2017, 04:15 PM   #40
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continued from above

The NASA National office folks were there to observe with rumors of NASA Nationals here? Couldn't find a better place to host a major NASA event at the country's only active track on the F1 schedule. The facilities are immense and world class! I guess when you spend $450M to build a track that is to be expected.

I wore my driving suit all day Saturday and part of Sunday, but shed the soaking wet garment late Saturday when I was feeling the heat. Its not the safest way to drive on track obviously but neither is passing out from sweating so much you get heat stroke. I hope the organizers remember how hot it is in late May/early June when they plan this event next year's calendar. This far south it gets HOT quick.

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

Traffic in the TT sessions was pretty rough. I don't know why its so hard for drivers to get off line and give a point by when you are holding someone up, or on your cool down lap. I have never seen a NASA TT event this bunched up, on a track this huge, in all of my years with this organization. We had over 45 drivers, but not everyone was driving in each session. If I felt like I was holding anyone up I would bail on that lap and point them by - obviously I had made a mistake on that lap, or they were just faster. The sooner they got around me the sooner we could settle into our class / grid rankings and get clear laps.

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

Saturday's "TT session 1" (our 2nd session of 4 that day) was a good bit faster for me than the Warm-up, with a 2:43.932 lap, mostly just learning the lines from Costas' notes. I went out again in TT session 3 but the ambient temps were so high and traffic SO BAD that I never got a faster lap time. I skipped session 4 due to the temps being at 96F after lunch, and my total lack of energy by that time. Still coached Amy and instructed my student.

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

By day's end that 2:43 lap was enough to win the 5 car TTD class by 1.5 seconds and set the first ever TTD track record here (this was NASA's first event at this track). After this hot day I drank the best cold beer I ever had! We were goofing around and found cutouts of the F1 drivers so of course I had to get a shot on the F1 podium with Hammy. We stuck around to get a trophy but skipped the Saturday night "party crawl" to go to dinner (inside air conditioning, with lots of water refills) with friends Joe D (SI racer) and his family (including my student), plus American Iron racer Stewart M. After that meal I slept like a rock that night.

SUNDAY TT

Up early again for the 7 am HPDE meeting for Amy, then I lined up on grid to look for a better time in the coolest temps of the day - Sunday was once again "the money session". Unfortunately there were 4+ cars gridded ahead that were holding me up badly between T2-T10 and again in T13-T19 in the opening laps. There are such long straights with so many turns in between here that the "momentum" cars like TTD really do have to fight the powerful cars for track space. It didn't help that we had some "TT Tourists" giving ride-alongs in the TT competition session, driving laps 5+ seconds off their normal pace - who couldn't give a point by to save their lives. I complained to the higher ups but got a "Too bad - go faster" response. I managed a 2:42.848 lap making a pass in heavy traffic, temporarily giving us a 4 second lead over 2nd place.

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

For TT session 2 I talked to the 3 guys gridded behind me and told them I was going to build a massive gap (100+ yards) to the slower cars gridded ahead of us on the out lap. This might give us a lap without being held up in the twisty bits. Now we're not supposed to do this gap trick, but people aren't supposed to block either - so we did what we had to do. "Too bad". I still caught them by the T2-5 complex on the first lap, then backed way off and let 3 cars behind me go by. I let them get ahead for a lap, built another gap, then found a good chunk of time. I ran my best time of the weekend of 2:42.340 this way, but it was still hotter than the ideal track conditions of the first session.

Click the image to open in full size.
Video from Sunday Session 2 - best lap of the weekend

As you can see in the video above I wasn't exactly happy with that lap, and there were multiple driving mistakes that cost time. The rear tires were also struggling by that point - too hot, too many heat cycles, just never "came in" in this session. I was slower in the esses than in previous sessions, just finally was able to patch together a quicker lap without all of the traffic. I never really got a lap all weekend where I nailed all of the high speed braking markers, clipped every apex, used all of the track out room, and maxed out what the car could do... a combination of learning the track, TRAFFIC, tire age, TRAFFIC, little driving mistakes, TRAFFIC, and track temps. These factors combined to never allowed me to sync up what I felt the car should do (2:40-2:39) on a "full tilt" lap. Oh well, maybe next time.

Click the image to open in full size.

I still had nearly a 4 second lead over 2nd place after session 2, and with the rising ambient/rack temps and my level of sweating I felt we had seen the best track conditions already - so I skipped TT session 3. For once I gave Amy the car (she always ran right after me) without blistering hot tires and brakes. Now she could work on her lap times (she was still "gaining courage" up until the last session) without boiling tires. The 2nd place TTD car was an NC Miata that had aero and power - he was pulling me on the straights - but luckily was braking super early and going slower in the esses. He was usually gridded 1 or 2 cars behind me and could see my lines, and I could see that he was getting faster. He went out in TT session 3, found a bunch of time, and got within a second of me?! Uh-oh.

OK so now we have some serious competition, this time from someone out of region I don't know, and I have one session left to stay ahead. Do I go out, do I skip it? Will he? If he finds any more time in session 4 I could not only lose for the day (and potentially 2 tires) but lose the track record (which I had reset in session 2). I went to grid for TT session 4 with some serious pressure, but no other cars were there yet (see below left) when we were scheduled to go out - just me. Maybe I could get a "solo session" and work on my lines, maybe still find some time in this late afternoon heat? Slowly more and more and more TT drivers arrived to grid, and my closest TTD competitor was supposed to be gridded right behind me. If he showed up to grid I was going to stay out there in front of him for the entire time, to see what he could do.

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

With a long delay due to a Spec Miata crash the last TT session was stuck sitting on grid for an eternity - 45 minutes passed in sweltering high 90s heat, and by then 10 TT drivers had arrived. I stayed on grid, looking for that TTD Miata. 5 minute warning. 3 minute. 1 minute. No Miata. Right before TT took to the track DARK clouds rolled in (see above right) from a looming MEGA storm.

Amy said "He's not coming. You won - now go out there and drive!" So I did. I drove the piss out of the car, knowing I had a fresh set of tires coming from Hoosier for the next race. Held nothing back, pounded out laps. And consequently had the most fun of the weekend with no pressure any more. I narrowly missed a TTC S2000 spinning right in front of me entering T10 on the first lap, but other than that I finally had my first traffic free laps of the weekend. With this set of Hoosiers essentially cooked out (with a combined 5 weekends of driving among 3 drivers) I still managed to run a 2:43.5 lap in the highest temps of the weekend. I stayed out a long time, just stringing corners together, pushing the car more and more. This track is LOTS OF FUN!

Click the image to open in full size.

I finally came in when I started to run out of fuel (the long T16-T18 corner would fuel starve with anywhere near 1/2 tank) and Amy was watching live times on the Race Hero app. She said none of the other TT cars went any faster, so we took the Sunday win and track record for the weekend. Hot damn! They had some champagne and trophies for Sunday class wins also (I guess $1200 entry fees pay for a lot!), but we rushed to load up all of our stuff in the garage, stuck the car in the trailer, and high tailed it outta Austin by 7 pm with rain starting to fall. We weren't a mile from the track when the skies UNLOADED and we slogged through one of the worst storms I've ever driven through.

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

Plenty of traffic heading north through construction so of course we had a trailer tire explode. It happened during a 10+ mile construction zone with no shoulders, right outside of Waco. Brand new tire, not a month old. GRR! I quickly dove into one small stretch of shoulder 100 feet long, stuffed the right side of the trailer almost in the dirt, then did a super fast tire change in the rain with traffic whizzing by. Super sketchy location with no way to exit back into busy high speed traffic without backing up and getting a spotter - it was on a curve with concrete barriers on both sides. Texas DPS pulled in behind me right as I finished the tire change (to our last spare!) and helped make a lane for Amy to pull the truck and trailer out into. Well its time for all new wheels AND a new brand of tires on this trailer, and two new spares.

Luckily the following Monday was a holiday for most folks (our shop was closed) and we got to catch up on some sleep before I headed in to catch up on work. Watched some of my laps, noted the massive traffic and blocking, but I've got to just realize that without the Friday test day I put myself in a bad spot by having to learn the track during competition. With a better Saturday TT Warm-Up time I could have moved up the grid ahead of the slower cars sooner, avoiding much of the traffic. Can't take any new track for granted - we have to learn them at a test day.

Click the image to open in full size.

Amy (see above) had a lot of fun and was running her fastest times of the weekend right at the end. She was finally getting more seat time in this 330. Its hard to share a car that is also running in competition, because tires are a very finite, temperamental aspect. We really want to get her car (FRS) more track worthy and try to sell this 36' trailer and get a 2 car (44-48') for next year. We'll see. My DE1 student learned a TON and I got him a check ride for DE2, which he passed easily - probably ready for 3, but I won't rush him. Great racing, well run event, and other than the high temps, the weekend was a complete success. If they move NASA Nationals here.... man that would rock!!!

COTA Official Results: http://timingscoring.drivenasa.com/N...ts/May%20COTA/

The Sunday results are being contested in TT (one of the other class entries magically dropped 20 seconds in one session) but the Saturday results are up and our class results were not protested. This pair of class wins put us at 600 points for the year, and the next closest TTD racer is at 255 points. We'll run "D" at Hallett in late June and if we can continue our unbeaten streak and score two more wins (+200 total) that would put us far enough ahead in class mathematically to cinch the regional championship. We have some new 245mm Hoosiers coming that we won at COTA so at least we won't be on this dead set of tires any longer. Our E46 here isn't going to NASA Nationals East or West - two tracks I have never driven and that are super far away - so Hallett might be our last TTD event, then the car might jump up to TT4 soon after.

WHAT'S NEXT?

I've been hinting in this build thread about a possible move from TTD to TT4 for a while. The "TT-Number" classes are much more open and almost entirely P-to-W based (compared to the "dying or gone" TT-Letter classes). We'd need a big injection of power, a big drop in weight, or a bit of both to get from the 14.25:1 ratio of TTD to the 12:1 ratio of TT4. So we're working on both aspects now while still staying in TTD for one more event. TT4 allows us to have a splitter, wing, LSD, a max of a 275mm R7 tire, and more power (without chasing "mod points") so it is very enticing.

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

To get a head start on TT4 prep a lot is going on with our little E46 this week. I will cover this work next time but we have already added an AJ Hartman carbon fiber hood, AeroCatch hood latches, HARD Motorsport rear quarter Lexan windows, a Lexan rear window, aluminum rear bulkhead, dual fuel pump upgrade, and more. All of this is currently TTD legal, and we can easily ballast-up to meet the TTD weight, but these mods do help us get closer to TT4 later.

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

Our sister shop HPR race builds engines. Since I race with an M54B30 engine... and so few shops build these up... I've been pushing the guys to look at these a bit closer - with an eye towards a 300 whp engine. So last week we began tearing apart an M54 to look at what we can do to make that power level or beyond. Master engine builder Erik Koenig took a lot of measurements and ran a lot of numbers on this block & crank and we think there is a lot room for a "considerable amount of additional displacement" in this all-aluminum M54 engine - more than I have ever heard anyone reaching. I will talk more about this next time and over the summer as we explore the possibility of a more powerful M54 engine. If we don't like the costs or constraints within the block or head, we can always put a small displacement LS engine in this car (like a de-tuned 4.8L) to make the numbers we need.

Until next time - drive fast and take chances!
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Terry Fair - Owner at Vorshlag Motorsports Phone: 972.422.7170
S197 Development Thread + C4 Corvette + 69 Camaro + S550 + more project builds in the Vorshlag Sub-Section

Last edited by Vorshlag-Fair; 06-13-2017 at 09:09 AM.
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