Track Car Turned Club Racer
Rob and Paul are two friends and IT Sales & Marketing guys who decided to get
into amateur racing. Although we’re car guys at heart we have no formal training in
the automotive field. This project was our first dedicated track car build. We
started with a chassis that Paul knew well and was affordable, reliable, and easy to
work on. Over the last few years we’ve transformed a 1989 BMW 325i (E30 chassis)
beater into the only turbo 4 cylinder in BMW Club Racing.
It started out innocently enough. The goal was to build a dedicated track car for
BMWCCA club racing. We wanted to keep costs down so we looked for an E30 3-
series. Although the E30 M3 is a sexier platform having a rich racing heritage and
its high revving S14 power plant, these cars carry a premium in the resale market
and the M parts are pricey. We wanted to go racing but on a budget.
We found a high mileage 1989 325i. We started with a suspension overhaul with a
Ground Control coil over setup with Koni SA shocks, Suspension Techniques Sway
Bars, GC Adjustable camber/caster plates and urethane bushings thru out.
The car was originally built for K prepared class in BMWCCA club racing which used
the M20 motor and allowed minor modifications like a chip, header and deleted cat.
In this configuration the car made 150hp to the rear wheels. The car ran well but
we decided to change directions. We wanted to change classes due to the small
number of competitors in K prepared. So we looked for a class that had more
competitors. As we poured over the rules we considered installing a 24v motor from
an E36. Our interpretation of the rules led us to believe that a rule change could
cause problems with that kind of engine swap.
We wanted to do something a little different and keep our project cost-effective.
We wanted to use a common BMW motor with relatively inexpensive parts. We
decided to build an M42 engine for turbo power and run in D modified class.
The build plan all along has been to follow the NASA (the space guys not the race
guys) guidelines of cheaper, better, faster using off the shelf technology. Aside
from the machine work for the engine and head, precision fabrication & welding for
the exhaust, and safety considersations for the cage all of the component selection,
engineering, build, and installation has been done by us.
At the time when we started the project turbo cars were rare in BMWCCA club
racing. The few turbo car projects that existed were being campaigned by
seasoned racers leveraging the services of specialized BMW tuning shops. The
other turbo cars also took the opposite approach by starting with 6 cylinder motors
building cars for C modified and B modified classes with the goal to produce as
much horsepower as possible. We wanted to build a reliable motor with enough
horsepower to be competitive. To the best of our knowledge we are the only team
currently running an M42 turbo in BMWCCA club racing. We also liked the idea of
building an E30 motor (from the 1991 318is) for use in an E30 chassis. On top of
that not many people pull 6 cylinder motors to make way for 4 cylinder motors.
We found a cheap, worn out M42 and started to build it for forced induction. The
motor was stroked to 1.9 liter with custom pistons, 666fabrication exhaust manifold,
HQ Autosport coil-on-plug conversion, Garrett turbo and Vic Sias Tec3 engine
management. The motor produces around 300hp at the rear wheel with over 300ft
lb of torque starting at 3500 rpm up to 7000 rpm. That’s more than E46 M3 power
at the flywheel in a car that weighs about 2400 lbs. We still have weight to lose
when we move to lexan windows.
After our first track test with the new motor we realized that the car needed more tire
and more braking power. We deciding against a 5 lug conversion to try and keep
costs down. We upsized our wheels to 17’s with 235/45/17 in the front and
255/40/17 in the rear using Falken Hanabi wheels and shaved Toyo Proxes RA1
tires we have since moved to Nitto NT01’s. For braking we chose UUC’s Wilwood 4-
piston calipers in the front and Hawk DTC-60 pads front and rear.
Our day jobs are in IT so we it was only natural that we add some data acquisition
systems. With the Tec3 ECU data, G2X data acquisition and Chase Cam solid state
video system we have 3 data acquisition systems on-board our car. That’s more
data than most club racing teams collect but it helps us monitor our engine and
build our racing skills.
At the end of our first season of club racing in 2008 we found the car very
dependable. We finished every race we started and drove the car on the trailer at
the end of every race weekend. Our goals were modest. We wanted to burn thru
our rookie races (4 race weekends with a minimum of 2 races per weekend) without
any incidents and work on our race craft. Toward the end of the season we were
pleasantly surprised to see that out of the 50 racers in our class nationwide we
were ranked 10th in points.
Our last race weekend of 2008 was a little challenging when seconds into our first
practice on Saturday we blew the head gasket. It turns out that 2 vacuum lines on
our wastegate were swapped when our welder did a repair on our exhaust
manifold. We should have caught that error before we put the car on the track but
we didn’t. That first practice session on Saturday was at 8:20 am with the race
starting at 3:30 pm. We ended up doing the repair in the pits. We had all of the
new gaskets in the spare parts bin in our trailer. We started at the back of the field
since we missed qualifying but just making the race was a victory for us.
After the 2008 season we made a list of things we needed to change on the car
prior to the start of the 2009 season. The list was long be we were optimistic that
we could get it done early in the new race season. One upgrade lead to another
and before we knew it the car was more apart than together.
When the dust settled our upgrade list was so long that we dubbed the new car
"Version 2.0". Version 2.0 is the same car but completely reworked. Some of the
- moved the engine back 1.5 inches
- moved the exhaust system back
- installed Getrag 240 (318is) trans
- re-routed the charge pipe from intercooler to TB
- new Vorshlag engine mounts, new Vorshlag trans mounts
- new Vorshlag camber plates, new M3 control arms, new Treehouse CABs
- minor engine rebuild (new rings is all the engine needed)
- new water injection system
- new diff temp gauge
- installed newer E30 fuel tank
- new fuel tank filler under the wing
- reworked rear fender tire clearance
- new fibreglass body panels
- new graphics
- new rear wing & custom wing up rights
- custom designed & developed intake plenum
- removed spare tire well
Why did we have to move he engine back? As you know, this car started life as a
325i but when we installed the turbo M42 into the car we used the Getrag 260
(325i) transmission which is longer. To do that we needed to move the engine
forward about 1.5 inches. We considered that a temporary solution until we could
track down and install a Getrag 240 in the car.
As a bonus, the Getrag 240 is lighter and many of the "Version 2.0" upgrades were
done to lighten the car. Another added benefit to the Getrag 240 is their availability
and cost effectiveness.
So far the new version of the car is more predictable and is more confidence
We have had a few electrical issues that we've chased over the last few months.
These issues have dampened a few of our race weekends this year.
All in all we are pleased with the results of all the work we did on the car last season.
Look for race, test and performance upgrades on the "racing blog" page.
If you have any questions about this project please submit them on the "contact us"
Above -- First HPDE with the car.
At this point we were building it for
Below -- NASA HPDE at Willow
Springs Raceway in Rosamond CA.
Above -- 666 Fabrication M42 turbo
Below -- Installing the UUC Willwood
Big Brake Kit. We opted to stay with
the 4 lug setup to keep costs down.
Above -- We run 17 x 7.5 front and
17 x 9 rear wheels. Pictured are
bronze Falken Hanabi's
Below -- Freshly machined M42 and
new Garrett turbo ready for install.
Below -- Expand this photo to see
our G2X data acquisition, IQ3
electronic dash panel, Tec3 ECU and
Above -- Like many home grown
racing efforts our project came from a
Below -- Here you can see our oil
cooler (where the kidney grills would
be) and our turbo intercooler.
Above -- Tuning the car at Canyon
Racer Motorsport in Mission Viejo.
Initially we tuned remotely with the
help of Vic Sias from Sias Tuning in
Below -- Testing at Buttonwillow end
of summer 2007. Still prepping the
car for club racing, no club sponsor