We made the trip down to Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca the weekend of March 16-17 for the HMSA Spring Race.
It was a great weekend with lots of sun and fun. We took the Koepchen 2002 and my new Swift DB2 S2000 car for this event.
There were enough S2000 cars so that we had our own group. The 2002 was put in Group 5 which had a couple of other B sedans, an open wheel car, and a bunch of big bore Corvettes, Cobras, and Mustangs.
We made a change to the K2002 over winter that we hoped would make it quicker. We softened the springs from 400 lbs. down to 350 lbs. It made for slightly more body role in the corners but also increased the grip noticeably, as well as making the car feel more into the track.
This was my first drive in the Swift. I do fit in it a whole lot better than I did in the Chevron. There is a lot more leg room and room in the pedal box for my big feet.
I did have a problem during the first practice with the car jumping out of 3rd gear whenever I let off the throttle. Jim tried adjusting the shift linkage in an attempt to fix it. However during the qualifying race on Saturday it was still doing it.
About half way through the race I shifted from 2nd to 3rd coming out of the Corkscrew and 3rd gear stripped completely.
At the end of the day Jim pulled the transmission cover off and found a bunch of teeth and bits in the bottom of the case. We parked the car for the weekend. I did manage a 1:44.6 during the race. Not stellar, but ok for my first time in the car.
I had a much better run in the 2002. The softer springs helped a great deal. My best lap last year at this event was a 1:49.7. My best lap this year was a 1:46.9!
Both races went about the same. I started 2nd in the Saturday qualifying race and finished 3rd. In the feature I started 3rd and finished 3rd. I ran pretty much alone in both.
The only bad thing from the weekend was that our car was vandalized on the way home. We stopped to have breakfast in Willows and while we were eating some low-life smashed the back window in our X5 and stole our son’s backpack. We were happy they didn’t steal any of the cameras, but it still makes you feel violated.
In August we made our annual pilgrimage down to Monterey for Car Week. With only 2 cars entered in the Rolex Races we looked forward to a relatively quiet week.
The featured marque this year was Datsun. In the program they had a picture of John Morton’s BRE Datsun 510 racing at Laguna Seca in about 1971-72 and coming into the frame is my #34 BMW 2002 when it was raced by Hyde Park Motors.
I also had consigned the Cobra I took in trade for the Chevron B16 with Russo & Steele. The car went across the stage on Friday night but barely reached the reserve I had on it. I decided to drop the reserve at the last moment so the car went to a new home. I didn’t get what I hoped for, but we also didn’t have to pay to haul it home. Auctions are a crap shoot!
As I said, I had 2 cars entered in the Pre-reunion races as well as the Reunion Races. During the Pre-reunion races the right front strut mounting broke in the CSL when I was forced up onto the cement berm on the inside of Turn 6 by a slower competitor that didn’t see me. The problem didn’t show itself until the Saturday morning race the following weekend. The result was that we had to park the car. It is not a difficult fix but Jim & Terry didn’t have what they needed to accomplish it.
The M3 ran flawlessly during the Pre-reunion weekend. The car was in the group with the GTO and IMSA GTP cars. I spent most of my time watching my mirror as the GTP cars closed very quickly from behind.
Still, I managed to finish 13th in the Feature race during the Pre-reunion weekend after some great racing with Phil Mendelovitz in his Datsun 240 SX GTU car.
For the Reunion Races SCRAMP allowed me to move from the GTO/GTP Group to the same group the CSL was to have been in. They even let me start where my lap times placed me in the group.
I had a great race going with Richard Goldsmith in his Dekon Monza until I started smoking heavily. It turns out there was a large crack in the block that developed and oil was seeping out onto the headers.
I ended up with a DNF. Here’s the video from the week:
We had our first race last weekend with the M3 at the HMSA Spring race at Laguna Seca.
Let me first give a big shout out to Pall, Luis, and Kevin for coming down and cheering us on. It was great fun to meet them and talk about all things M3! And if you haven’t looked at Pall’s Flicker album yet- don’t miss it. He got some really great shots of the car.
This was my first time in the car and I always approach a new car with the idea of just getting comfortable with it, the controls, the feedback its giving me, and making sure everything is operating nominally.
Saturday morning was cool and damp. The track was dry, but off-line there were damp patches. I used the first few laps of the session to just get comfortable in the car and to build a little heat in the slicks. I also needed to scrub the mold release off their face.
After a few laps I began to build up my speed. The gearbox in the car is pretty amazing. It is a Getrag 265 case with Samsonas innards. The cluster features straight cut gears and it has a dog ring so the clutch is not necessary once you are moving. I chose to use the clutch for now so as to not add another complication to my learning the car. Later I’ll work at shifting w/o the clutch. The gear throw is VERY short; just a flick of the wrist and you’re in the next gear. Really sweet.
The car felt very neutral and I kept having to push myself deeper into the corners before braking as they are much more effective than any of my other cars.
Saturday afternoon the rains came. It started just as I was sitting on pre-grid for the qualifying race with my 2002. By the time our race was over there were puddles starting to form on the track so I decided not to take the M3 out.
Sunday morning was sunny and warmer. I took the car out for the morning warm-up session. The second time in a new car is always better. I feel like I at least know more what to expect, plus I am more comfortable with the steering, pedals, and shifter. So I turned it up another notch.
As I began to push the car harder it began to show more of its personality. The first thing I noticed was a little bit of under steer on turn in. As I reached the apex and added power the car instantly neutralized and came off the corner like a freight train. There are in cockpit adjustments for the sway bars and brake bias. I will begin exploring those later. I have left them at the settings the previous owner recommended.
The engine in the car is great. It dogs below 4500, which you would expect. Once you reach 5500 it really comes alive and pulls hard up until the red line. I was choosing to shift at about 8000-8200. red line is marked on the tach at 8500.
I was gridded for the feature race in 4th behind 2 2018 Porsche GT3 Cup cars, and a 1990 Olds tube frame GTO car. How did we get 2 brand new GT3 Cup cars on the grid of a vintage race? Good question. I asked but never got a straight answer from HMSA. I’m guessing the reason was financial. There was also a 2012 GT3 Cup car in the field. He was gridded at the rear of our group because he didn’t have a qualifying time.
As the 2 GT3 Cup cars sailed off into the distance I chased the GTO car. I decided I would just follow him and keep him honest while I was still learning the car. My best lap was a 1:40, about 2 tenths quicker than the GTO’s best lap. A few laps into the race the other GT3 Cup car came forward and passed us both so I finished 5th overall, but 2nd in the ‘vintage’ class.
I also raced the Koepchen 2002 in Group 4. The car was just plain ripping all weekend long. We had the new Ivey engine in the car and it performed very well.
In Saturday’s qualifying race I had a great dice with Dennis Racine in his yellow Mini. I was finally able to pass him in Turn 11 on the last lap to finish 2nd.
In the feature race I was able to pass the lead Datsun 510 going through Turn 2. He missed a shift going into Turn 5 and I opened a lead on him that I was able to keep throughout the rest of the race.
My best lap was a 1:49.7. The best I have ever done in the 2002 at Laguna Seca.
This year SCRAMP started a new race with hopes to build it into a premier vintage race in the coming years. It features cars from the 1970’s through the 1990’s. There were groups for F1 cars, Atlantic cars, and big block Trans-Am cars. However, the largest grid for this first event was the 2.5 Trans-Am Sedans.
Group E was made up of BMW 2002’s, Alfas, 510’s, a Mini, and several Porsches. 34 cars total!
I entered my #34 2002. This car has always been a race car. It taken off the truck at Hyde Park Motors and built into a race car. In fact, it was the first BMW to win points in a Trans-Am race at Riverside in 1968.
There were some fast drivers and fast cars in our group, including Sam Smith in a 2002, and Troy Ermish in his always fast Datsun 510.
The racing was some of the best I’ve experienced for several years. I managed a 4th in the feature race, which was not too shabby given the quality of the field.
Here’s the video, I hope you enjoy the great tin-top racing: