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The Showroom
This is the place to show off your BMW to other members of the community. Post pictures and videos of your car and the modifications you have done to it. If you need a picture of something on a coupe, sedan, convertible or touring you will probably find it here!

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Old 03-21-2017, 08:48 PM   #61
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Excited to see some updates on this!
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Old 04-11-2017, 09:49 AM   #62
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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.

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!

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!

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!


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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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".

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!

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

continued below
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Old 04-11-2017, 09:52 AM   #63
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continued from above

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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, 09:54 AM   #64
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continued from above


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).

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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).


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.

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.

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".


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.

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).

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.

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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Old 05-12-2017, 02:37 PM   #65
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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.

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.


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.

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

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:

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.

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!

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.


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).

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:
  • - 1:29.630 in the 2013 Scion FR-S with camber and front brake upgrade
  • - 1:26.212 in the Focus RS on coilovers and camber (which then ran a 1:23.658 on 275 Bridgestones later that day)
  • - 1:25.075 in our TTD prepped E46 330 (195 whp) on MCS + Hoosiers (Nov 2016 test)
  • - 1:23.789 in our TTD prepped E46 330 (216 whp) on MCS + Hoosiers with power at this event
  • - 1:22.63 in the stock 2012 C6 Z06
  • - 1:22.56 in the modded 2013 1LE Camaro on Hankook RS-3 tires
  • - 1:21.90 in our TTC prepped 1992 Corvette (288 whp)
  • - 1:21.89 in stock 2017 Corvette C7 Grand Sport
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

continued below
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Old 05-12-2017, 02:39 PM   #66
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continued from above

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).

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...


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

continued below
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Old 05-12-2017, 02:42 PM   #67
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continued from above

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...

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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?

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.


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...

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.


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.

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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