Category Archives: M3

Winter Projects Update

I thought I would update some of the projects we have going on with the cars this winter. Racecraft has been working hard on almost all of my cars. Here’s a rundown.

Koepchen 2002

New engine and new headers and we’re all set to race.

After 3 seasons it was time to freshen/rebuild the motor in the car. I had a spare motor which we sent down to Terry Tinney for some Tinney Performance magic and he delivered in spades! A few more HP’s and a little more torque. Thank you Terry!

I also had Racecraft install the Elite transmission I had purchased for Luigi but have since decided not to use in that car. The Elite is an exact copy of the ZF 5 speed transmission that was homologated for the 2002 back in the early 1970’s but with modern, stronger internals.

The Elite transmission required some minor changes in the transmission tunnel.

Getting it in the car required some modifications to the transmission tunnel and a new exhaust manifold for clearance. The car is all done and ready for our fist event next month.

Swift DB-2

The seat in the Swift is just the aluminum tub with a little bit of foam. It has never fit me well and the lack of support makes driving the car very uncomfortable. So we decided to fit a bean-bag seat in the car.

Here is the finished bead seat ready to go into the car.

This type of seat is made up of tiny beads of foam that has epoxy resins added and then it is molded to fit my backside. Its a lengthy process but it works very well and the end result makes fitting in the car wonderful.

The only problem is I have to sit in the car for an hour without moving while the epoxy sets up. That is a small price to pay for the comfort I will have now. And that comfort should translate into lower lap times.We will be taking this car to the first race next month as well so I will know quickly if the new seat helps.

Luigi CSL

You may remember that at the Rolex Reunion last August we ended the weekend by finding bits of metal in the oil in Luigi. Fortunately we caught it in time to salvage the block and major internal bits.

The engine is currently down at Tinney Performance getting rebuilt. It should go smoothly as no major parts will be needed and the machine and porting work have all been done on the head and block.

#34 Hyde Park 2002

This old war horse took a hit at The Charity Challenge too.

Unfortunately the #34 2002 was the victim of a brain slip by a Datsun driver at the Charity Challenge. The Datsun hit its LF wheel on the RR wheel of my car. When the tires touched the Datsun was lifted into the right side door, traveling down the side of the car and ripping the RF fender.

Fortunately we had a spare right side door, and the rest of the metal work was fairly minor. The fiberglass fenders were fairly easy to repair. The RR wheel was damaged but we were able to find someone who could repair it.

Back from paint and good as new. All we need is a few decals.

The car is now back from the paint shop ad ready to have the decals put on it and it will be ready for its first race at the David Love Memorial race in April.

Asahi Kiko M3

Unfortunately I had a brain fade at the Charity Challenge with the result that the front bumper was severely damaged on the M3.

Replacement bumper cover came from New Zealand. Not cheap!

Jim was able to find reproduction parts in New Zealand which we had air shipped to Seattle. Racecraft had to do some metal repairs to the supports and brackets, but that was about all.

The car is at the paint shop and should be done in a week or so.

The NSU is sitting out the first part of the season as Jay & Colin Ivey work on a fresh engine for it. They have torn the engine down and ordered parts from Germany. This is their first experience working on an NSU engine but are hopeful they can get it ready by mid-season.

Our first race is in just a couple of weeks down at Laguna Seca. We will be running 12-14 events this summer so check back often for updates and results.

Lesson Learned- Charity Challenge 2019

During qualifying for the Group 8 race on Saturday I was lined up 4th. After the green flag dropped I tried to pass #33 NASCAR on the inside of Turn 1 but realized he didn’t see me and backed off. Going up the hill to Turn 2 I moved to the inside and passed him. I attempted to pass the #25 car also but was too far back for the driver to see me coming. He turned in to Turn 2 and we made contact, spinning us both out.

Damage from contact with the NASCAR guy.

Following the contact Jeff the CSRG Race Director came to our pits and informed me that I would not be allowed to race anymore that weekend.

In discussing the incident with Jeff and reviewing my in-car I realize that I exercised poor judgement. I ended my conversation with Jeff by telling him I understood why I was not going to be allowed to drive my other car but I wasn’t happy.

Replacement number cover came from New Zealand. Not cheap!

As I thought about it later I realized that the reason I wasn’t happy was not because of Jeff’s decision to send me packing but I was unhappy with myself for allowing myself to get into the frame of mind that put my car in a bad position and created the potential for damage to my car and another car.

I realized that I began the session in a very impatient and aggressive frame of mind. I had just qualified my 2002 in 3rd place in Group 9 and had driven perhaps my best lap ever in that car at Sonoma. I knew my M3 was quicker that either of the NASCAR cars I was following and I was impatient to get by them and drive another “miracle” lap. The results of my poor judgement and even poorer mindset speak for themselves. This race weekend was a real wake-up call to me personally, as well as being a very expensive lesson. Nose clips for E30 M3’s don’t come cheap, if you can find one.

This old war horse took a hit at The Charity Challenge too.

I am also in a very unfortunate position after last weekend as I was both the perpetrator and receiver of avoidable contact. My #34 BMW was hit by another car during the Group 9 race while being driven by Jeff Gerken.

I want to commend the Board of CSRG for their decision to clamp down on aggressive driving. As an owner of several valuable cars I have felt that things have gotten out of hand at many events in recent years. There are some events I will not participate in because of the poor level of driving allowed. 

CSRG has taken a very brave stance by committing to cleaning up the driving at their events. I would like to respectfully point out to the Board that the only way it will work as we would all hope is  for the Board to be as even handed and consistent in applying their standards as possible, no matter who causes an incident. Anything less will cause feelings of resentment, lack of respect for the Board and its decisions, and lower turn out for their races.

Here’s the video from the weekend:

Rolex Monterey Races- 2019

On the Thursday following our trip to Road America I suffered a mild heart attack. It came totally out of the blue- I had no warnings, nor did I have the usual precursors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.

It did cause me to miss the Portland races the following weekend but I recovered enough to make the trip down to Monterey for Car Week. I had to skip the Pre-reunion races, but we arrived in time to take the Asahi M3 to Carmel for the Concours on the Avenue.

The Carmel Concours is always such a fun event. The race cars that are entered convoy over to the event from the race track on the public highway accompanied by a contingent of CHP motorcycle cops.

The Asahi M3 placed 2nd in the race car group at the Concours on the Avenue.

This year we placed 2nd in the race car group to a beautiful green Aston Martin DB5. The judges said they had a very difficult time deciding but ultimately went with the more historic car.

After the event the race cars all head back to the track by heading out Carmel Valley and going over the scenic Laureles Grade. It’s quite a fun adventure.

Thursday and Friday are practice/qualifying days at the track. Each of the 12 run groups gets one session on track each day. With 3 cars entered I had a lot of seat time on each day. By Friday evening I was feeling a bit tired. The CSL is especially wearing to drive because of the suspension geometry.

The CSL was in Group 5A- 1973-1981 FIA IMSA GT, GTX, AAGT. This group is a real mixed bag. The fastest cars in the group are the turbo 935 Porsches and big block GT cars like Decon Monzas and Corvettes. The next group of cars in terms of speed is primarily RSR Porsches and CSLs like mine.

Luigi ran well all weekend. In the feature race we finished 10th with a best lap of 1:40.3.

The CSL raced both races on Saturday, the Bonham’s Cup race in the morning and the Rolex Feature race in the afternoon. I had qualified 12th in a group of 38 cars so I was pleased. My main rivals were 3 RSR Porsches driven by Erich Joiner, Alan Benjamin, and Cameron Healy.

I was able to get by all of them going into Turn 2 in the morning race. I held them all of until the last lap when Erich Joiner was able to get by. I ended up 10th. The morning race sets the grid for the Feature Race in the afternoon.

In the Feature Race Alan Benjamin forced his way by at the start and kept me behind him until about 4 laps in. I was able to get back by him between Turns 2 and 3 and pull away, finishing about 12 seconds ahead of him. I ended up 10th again with a best lap of 1:40.3.

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The 1800 Ti was in Group 4B- 1961-1966 GT Cars Under 2,500 ccs. I qualified 35th out of 45 cars because I never got a good, clean lap during my qualifying sessions. There were just so many cars on track. I knew the car was quicker than we qualified. It made for a very interesting first lap as I was able to pass 6 cars by Turn 5!

The Big Box ran well all weekend. The car is a lot of fun to drive.

Because I was not up to full song I chose to only run the morning race. Still, I finished 25th out of the 37 cars that finished. There was a few more places to be had if only . . .

Terry drove the car in the Feature Race in the afternoon and finished 20th with a best lap of 2:06.3.

Both races were marred by long yellow flag sessions. Both Terry and I were passed under yellow by fellow competitors. Sometimes that happens.

The M3 ran in Group 6B which is made up of IMSA GTO, and GTU cars from 1981-1991. It is a pretty quick group of cars. Still, I managed to qualify mid-field out of 32 cars!

While the car showed well at Carmel it was not a great weekend for the M3 on-track.

Unfortunately the car had some issues all weekend. It began to have a miss during the Thursday practice which got worse each day.

For the Sunday morning race I was able to only make 2 laps before I came in. I was afraid the miss would damage the engine. I never started the Feature Race.

As it turned out once Jim had a look at it we needed to replace a sensor and the distributor cap and the car was fine.

So it was kind of a mixed bag of a race weekend. The CSL did very well. The 1800 showed its potential, and the M3 showed well in Carmel but had some problems on track. Given my health scare I was just glad to have been there racing!

We did get some nice publicity for the M3. Automobile Magazine blog did a nice piece on the car. Here’s the link:

https://www.automobilemag.com/news/monterey-car-week-2019-concours-avenue/

Car Throttle also did an interview of me on Saturday. My interview starts at about 4:00. Here’s that link:

http://www.facebook.com/carthrottle/videos/447996349127467/

Weathertech International Challenge at Road America

Every other year we make the trip back to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. This year we went back for the Weathertech International Challenge the weekend of July 18-21, 2019.

Road America is by far my favorite track in the US. I have many fond memories of going there in the 1960’s and 1970’s watching some of the most famous names in racing compete on that track.

Here is one of my favorite memories from the 1960’s. Jim Hall leading the Can-Am race in 1968.

This year we made the trip with the Swift S2000 and my M3. I was looking forward to racing both cars on this fast and flowing track. I had also entered the M3 in the Friday night parade and concours.

I ran the Swift in the practices and did a best lap of 2:32 and change. The car had a tendency to trolly track in the cracks in the pavement going down the straights which was a challenge to say the least. Jim said it has enough downforce at that speed that it won’t go anywhere, but it still was not comfortable.

Road America has 3 places per lap where the car reached its maximum speed. It also has several long high speed turns that really stretch your neck.

Jeff Gerken and I get ready to go out for practice in our S2000 cars.

I decided to let Jim run the car in the feature race on Sunday as he was about 4 seconds a lap quicker in it than me. He had also blown out the diff in his Datsun on Friday so he was without a ride.

He ended up finishing 16th after the race was shortened because of an incident involving several cars.

As I mentioned, I entered the M3 in the Friday night parade and Concours. This is an incredibly fun event that is unique. The race cars line up outside Turn 12 at the track where they are inspected by the judges. Following that they head into town behind a police escort.

My M3 on the streets of Elkhart Lake. It won 1st in Group 4.

Someone told me that as many as 20,000 fans line the route into town and winding through the city streets. Once the cars are parked the fans descend on them en-mass. After a couple of hours the judges announce the awards for each division and the cars fire up and drive back to the race track.

The M3 was the winner of Group 4 so I was invited to present the car for the Best in Show judging on Sunday in Victory Circle at the race track.

I had some great laps in the M3 before the alternator fully broke and the motor overheated because the fan belt disappeared. In the interest of not making the problem worse we parked the car for the rest of the weekend.

I managed a 2:34 and change with the car in qualifying. It is a real joy to drive on this track. I really want to bring it back sometime soon. I bet I could get into the high 2:20’s with it.

Here’s the link to the video from the weekend:

SVRA Trans-Am Festival At Laguna Seca

On the weekend of May 3-5 we raced in the SVRA Trans-Am Festival held at Laguna Seca Raceway outside of Monterey, CA.

I took the NSU and the E30 M3 down for the event. We enjoyed great weather and a lot of fun racing.

The NSU ran in Group 1 which has small bore sedans and sports cars built before 1972.

The NSU raced in Group 1 which has small bore sedans and sports cars built before 1972. It has one of the smaller engines in a group made up of highly developed Minis, 356 Porsches, TVRs, Austin Healys, and Sprigits.

I was still trying to feel out the car after my crash last summer. I am still just a bit tentative with the swing axel rear suspension and the short wheel base. As the weekend progressed I was starting to pitch it into the corners with much more confidence, and my lap times showed my improvement.

The MIGHTY NSU ran well all weekend in Group 1.

I did have one scary moment in the car. I was going up the hill into the Corkscrew right beside a Morgan during practice and the throttle stuck wide open. At first I just jammed on the brakes but quickly realized that wasn’t going to hold the car, so I quickly reached over and turned the kill switch. Frantically waving to the cars around me I coasted down the hill and back into the paddock. Jim quickly diagnosed the problem as a broken internal return spring on one of the Weber carbs. The piece that broke off had fallen and jammed the throttle open.

I finished 16th out of 24 cars in the Feature Race on Sunday. I had a great race with the Morgan, a TVR, and a Spitfire. Great fun! My best lap for the weekend was a 1:57.9.

The M3 ran strong in a group with cars with much larger engines.

The M3 was put into Group 10 which is made up of GTO and tube frame Trans-Am cars from the 1980’s and 1990’s. They have engines that are 300 CI and larger. Jim and John Murray also had their Datsun 240 GTU cars in this group. Unfortunately John had a transmission issue on Saturday and was unable to run on Sunday.

This was the first race for the M3 with the rebuilt engine. Terry Tinney did a great job with the rebuild getting over 280 HP at the rear wheels. It was immediately noticeable driving the car. I spent the test day sessions logging miles on the motor, keeping the revs below 7,200.

On Saturday I began to take the motor to 7,500, and then 8,000 RPM. What a glorious sound! And what power. The motor really switches on about about 5,500 RPM, and pulls hard all the way up to where I shift it. THANKS TERRY!

I qualified 8th for the Feature Race on Sunday. I got a great start and came out of Turn 2 in 6th place. I was able to hold my own until about 2 laps from the end when I spun in some oil in Turn 5. I managed to finish 9th overall with a best lap of 1:39.04. Jim finished 3rd overall with his Datsun. We finished 1-2 in the 12B small engine class.

Jim and I finished 1-2 in the 12B small engine class.

This was the first event for SVRA at Laguna Seca. They brought along their West Coast Trans-Am Series. These cars are pretty quick with the leaders turning mid 1:20’s. Their races are 70 minutes long so tires and brakes have to be nursed to go the distance. The T2 race was won by the car that started in last place. They put on a great show.

I’ve put the video from the weekend up on YouTube. The link is below. If you enjoy these videos please give them a ‘Like,’ or subscribe. Your comments are always appreciated as well. Thanks for watching!

https://youtu.be/j5MemO3789M

Portland Vintage Racing Fesival

In July I ran my M3 and 2002 at the SVRA sanctioned Portland Vintage Racing Festival. The M3 ran in Group 12A, and the 2002 in Group 8.

It’s always interesting to see how the various race groups are made up. The sanctioning body, in this case SVRA, tries to make up the groups as best as it can from the entries they receive for an event.

Sometimes vintage racing makes for some strange bedfellows.

For this weekend Group 12A had a real mix of interesting cars. There were some Big Block Corvettes, Cobras, Trans-Am sedans, NASCAR cars, along with a couple of prototype cars, tube frame GT cars, and my M3.

On Saturday’s Qualifying race I qualified 7th and had a great race with Cameron Healy in his RSR Porsche. We ran nose to tail until he had a motor issue and had to pull off. I finished 4th.

For the Saturday Feature race I had to make a good start as I was surrounded by big block cars. The M3 is very quick but it does not have much torque so I was worried they would get the jump on me going down to Turn 1. Was able to keep them behind me and went on to finish 4th with my best lap of the weekend, a 1:24.9.

The M3 finished 3rd over-all, and 1st in class in Sunday’s Feature Race.

Jim Froula, who won on Saturday, didn’t start on Sunday so I started 3rd behind a 427 Corvette and a 427 Cobra. Outside of me was the #33 Skoal Bandit NASCAR Lumina. Again I had to make a fast start or they would eat me alive before we got down to Turn 1.

I am able to hold off the Lumina and finish 3rd over-all, and 1st in class with a best lap of 1:25.1.

My 2002 ran in Group 8. this is a really fun Group to run in. It is made up of mid-bore sedans and sports cars so there is always close racing.

Hans and I race together a lot. He is a good clean driver and we enjoy racing against each other.

For the Feature race I started 9th. The first lap was pretty wild and woolly! I was gridded inside my old friend Hans Guttman in his 242 Volvo and just behind Paul Gladio’s 911. There was also a bunch of Lotus 7’s in the mix. We swapped places back and forth for the entire race. It was a lot of fun.

I ended up finishing 9th over-all and 3rd in BS with a best lap of 1:29.5. Here’s the video, hope you enjoy it!

Photos courtesy of Bill Wagenblatt at: http://historicmotorprints.com



Monterey Car Week- 2018

The M3 quit itself well until the block cracked.

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.

Pace lap from the 2.5 Trans-Am race at Laguna Seca in about 1971-72. The orange and black BMW is my #34 Hyde Park Motors car being driven by Carl Fredricks.

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!

The Cobra crosses the block at Russo & Steele on Friday night. Not what I hoped for.

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:

M3- First Race


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.

My first race with the new M3. What a sweet car!

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.

Old reliable slogs through the rain to a 2nd place finish in our qualifying race.

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.