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Old 06-19-2010, 09:20 AM   #1
M3TA5IN
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Serious advice from the track crowd plz

Hey all. I joined the forum approx. 6 months ago but due to my job I wasnt able to do a lot of research at the time. I was just home for 30 days and took some time to go look at some E46 M3s and after discussion with the fiance and me agreeing to sell one of my toys and all its parts I can get the car I have wanted for years!

Now I read the best e46 model for track use thread on here and looked around some more but couldnt find exactly what I was looking for. I am pretty set on a E46 M3 and seems to be some think its a great car for track use and others think its to much for the starter, but in the end its been the car I have wanted forever and I am a huge race fanatic and really want to start getting in and learning because I am currently searching for the exact M3 I want and I will be making the purchase with in the next 6 months.

Couple questions I want to ask you guys so I know in my search for the car.

SMG or 6MT for track? Off the bat I really wanted a MT but after reading about the SMG I became very interested because then my fiance could even drive the car if she wanted and seemed like a better shifting system for track use?

Also the car will be my DD/track car. My idea is to drive the car as an DD and slowly build as I learn more and start learning good driving skills on the track at the same time, then when I feel that I have progressed make it a full on race build.

So I guess I am looking for advice on what some functional upgrades would be for a DD m3 with weekend track use? I think that I read a M3 really only needs a BBK to be very capable on the track? Is an after market suspension also a good idea?

Another question is I read the thread on wheel size for track vehicles, is 18" wheels the limit for functionality? In the end I am more about power, function, and drivability but I would still like to make the car some what stylish unless it will really just hurt me on the track in the end.

and lastly any racing functions anyone knows that are a good starting point for a newbie to the track world preferable in the north east I can look into to read over regulations and so fourth would be really appreciated.

Thank you all for any help in getting me pointed in the correct direction in advance.


oh and this is how I feel about entering the BMW world......
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Old 06-22-2010, 03:14 AM   #2
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I would get a 6 speed manual and just have the fiance learn how to drive that. If you have no track experience I would hold off on suspension upgrades. Just get some nice track brake pads and change out your brake fluid. M3s are very fun cars to drive bone stock. I think 18s on a e46 M3 still look some what stylish. As for wheel and tires, most guys I know have 18x9.5" or 18x10" with 275s or 285s square. I would check out NASA, SCCA or BMWCCA for track day events.
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Old 06-22-2010, 03:57 AM   #3
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I would get a 6 speed manual and just have the fiance learn how to drive that. If you have no track experience I would hold off on suspension upgrades. Just get some nice track brake pads and change out your brake fluid. M3s are very fun cars to drive bone stock. I think 18s on a e46 M3 still look some what stylish. As for wheel and tires, most guys I know have 18x9.5" or 18x10" with 275s or 285s square. I would check out NASA, SCCA or BMWCCA for track day events.
Thank you for your input techtuner! I was starting to think I would get no advice.
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Old 06-22-2010, 12:05 PM   #4
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I agree with the above...

SMG, while usable for the track, can be expensive when it goes wrong, and finicky to boot.

BBK is an unnecessary cost until you get REALLY fast. Good pads, maybe upgrade to floating rotors, stainless lines, and good fluid are all you need. When you get fast enough to start overheating those, then think about brake cooling (relatively cheap).

You can run the stock suspension until it's all used up, then upgrade.

By far the best modification you can buy, after you take care of the basics for brakes (which are a safety item) is seat time. Track time isn't cheap, but is the fastest and cheapest way to get faster. Work on the nut behind the wheel first, then when the car is holding you back (which will take a loooong time with this particular car), modify it.

That said, if you're looking to put some money into it right away, I would say buy a square (same width and offset front and rear) set of wheels so you can rotate tires front to back, and make sure they're light [D-Force LTW5 (vorshlag, bimmerworld), TR Motorsport MT-1 (Tire Rack) and Apex ARC-8 (apexraceparts.com) are all light, strong, and affordable]. Of all these, I'd say the ARC-8 are the best looking. This will improve braking, turn-in, and feel. After that, suspension (quality single or double adjustable setups from TC Kline [multiple vendors] or AST [Vorshlag, Elephant motorsport, RRT]) is the next step.

Also, most (if not all) track day organizers will require a helmet, so get an SA2005, or even better, SA2010 helmet, and make sure it fits (try it on at a shop). If there is not a race shop near you, figure out what shape your nugget is (round, oval, square) and ask around about what helmets different dudes have found to fit best, and how the sizing runs for different brands. Helmets run anywhere from $175-$2000, depending on whether they are open, full face, fiberglass, carbon fiber, etc, etc, etc. Spend a little more for a nicer helmet (lighter and nicer materials), but don't blow all the budget on that carbon fiber Arai GP5 just yet.

Get an instructor (may track day organizers require you to go with an instructor until you are signed off for solo), and work up to your limits slowly. It's alot more fun to buy new parts to upgrade your car than it is to pay for sh*t you break.

Video can be a great tool, as well, which can be done as easily as buying an Aiptek camera and bolting it to the rear parcel shelf child seat tethers, etc etc. Don't spend too much -- you're using it to help yourself review your mistakes and compare your lines to other, more experienced dudes, not making a movie -- and if you have a camera that takes an analog in, you can buy a little bullet cam and have a dual purpose setup.

Lastly (and most importantly) Have fun.
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Old 06-22-2010, 04:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snortdavis View Post
I agree with the above...

SMG, while usable for the track, can be expensive when it goes wrong, and finicky to boot.

BBK is an unnecessary cost until you get REALLY fast. Good pads, maybe upgrade to floating rotors, stainless lines, and good fluid are all you need. When you get fast enough to start overheating those, then think about brake cooling (relatively cheap).

You can run the stock suspension until it's all used up, then upgrade.

By far the best modification you can buy, after you take care of the basics for brakes (which are a safety item) is seat time. Track time isn't cheap, but is the fastest and cheapest way to get faster. Work on the nut behind the wheel first, then when the car is holding you back (which will take a loooong time with this particular car), modify it.

That said, if you're looking to put some money into it right away, I would say buy a square (same width and offset front and rear) set of wheels so you can rotate tires front to back, and make sure they're light [D-Force LTW5 (vorshlag, bimmerworld), TR Motorsport MT-1 (Tire Rack) and Apex ARC-8 (apexraceparts.com) are all light, strong, and affordable]. Of all these, I'd say the ARC-8 are the best looking. This will improve braking, turn-in, and feel. After that, suspension (quality single or double adjustable setups from TC Kline [multiple vendors] or AST [Vorshlag, Elephant motorsport, RRT]) is the next step.

Also, most (if not all) track day organizers will require a helmet, so get an SA2005, or even better, SA2010 helmet, and make sure it fits (try it on at a shop). If there is not a race shop near you, figure out what shape your nugget is (round, oval, square) and ask around about what helmets different dudes have found to fit best, and how the sizing runs for different brands. Helmets run anywhere from $175-$2000, depending on whether they are open, full face, fiberglass, carbon fiber, etc, etc, etc. Spend a little more for a nicer helmet (lighter and nicer materials), but don't blow all the budget on that carbon fiber Arai GP5 just yet.

Get an instructor (may track day organizers require you to go with an instructor until you are signed off for solo), and work up to your limits slowly. It's alot more fun to buy new parts to upgrade your car than it is to pay for sh*t you break.

Video can be a great tool, as well, which can be done as easily as buying an Aiptek camera and bolting it to the rear parcel shelf child seat tethers, etc etc. Don't spend too much -- you're using it to help yourself review your mistakes and compare your lines to other, more experienced dudes, not making a movie -- and if you have a camera that takes an analog in, you can buy a little bullet cam and have a dual purpose setup.

Lastly (and most importantly) Have fun.
Excellent post. Completely agree that spending money of seat time is by far your best bet. Save that suspension money for the brakes and tires that you'll eat up while you learn. If you want to have a daily driveable car, Hawk HP+ pads should suffice while you're still on street tires at the track. Carbotech XP8's will be better, but wont stop quite as hard cold, and will chew up your rotors quicker.

Motul RBF600 brake fluid should be good, relatively inexpensive fluid to swap in. I ran that in my Z4 and never boiled it.

But again, I completely agree with the advice you've been given so far. I don't know how far from Ohio you are in PA, but if you ever want to drive to Mid-Ohio or even Putnam Park in Indiana, I'd be glad to help get you started. I instruct for the Cincinnati Region SCCA at our annual PDX at Mid-Ohio, and for 10/10ths Motorsports, who hold several events per year, at Putnam, Mid-Ohio, VIR, and Autobahn.
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Old 06-22-2010, 07:50 PM   #6
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This would be my list:

Brake pads
Brake fluid
Schroth quick fit harnesses
Good summer tires

Otherwise, your M3 should perform great on the track as long as you keep up with the maintenance (probably want to stay ahead of it).
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Old 06-22-2010, 07:56 PM   #7
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Not a fan of harnesses in cars without a roll cage. Very bad idea. Yes, they hold you in place better, but in the event of a rollover, your body needs to be able to be pushed sideways. Harnesses should be used only with proper roll over protection.

That's widely debated, and just my opinion.
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Old 06-23-2010, 02:50 AM   #8
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Im about 4 or 5 hours from Ohio, but doesnt mean I wouldnt make a trip out there.

When you guys speak about track tires are these tires suitable for the road as well? or is it better to get a set of tires/wheels for track purpose only and then have a road set.

Thanks again for all the information, very good advice
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Old 06-23-2010, 03:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trippinbillies4 View Post
Not a fan of harnesses in cars without a roll cage. Very bad idea. Yes, they hold you in place better, but in the event of a rollover, your body needs to be able to be pushed sideways. Harnesses should be used only with proper roll over protection.

That's widely debated, and just my opinion.
Easy fix...don't roll the car over
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Old 06-23-2010, 03:31 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by M3TA5IN View Post
Im about 4 or 5 hours from Ohio, but doesnt mean I wouldnt make a trip out there.

When you guys speak about track tires are these tires suitable for the road as well? or is it better to get a set of tires/wheels for track purpose only and then have a road set.

Thanks again for all the information, very good advice
I think most advanced guys will tell you to stick with street summer performance tires, read no R-Comps or slicks.

Examples:

Dunlop Z1 star specs
Nitto NT05
BFG RE11
Yoko Advan AD08

Do you need a second set for the track? Depends. I'm still not on R-Comps yet and live in TX. So my summer tires do double duty as my track tires.
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Old 06-23-2010, 03:52 AM   #11
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I think most advanced guys will tell you to stick with street summer performance tires, read no R-Comps or slicks.

Examples:

Dunlop Z1 star specs
Nitto NT05
BFG RE11
Yoko Advan AD08

Do you need a second set for the track? Depends. I'm still not on R-Comps yet and live in TX. So my summer tires do double duty as my track tires.
Yea, im just concerned about winter in PA. Maybe a set of all seasons and track tires is a good idea.

How often to guys go through your track tires?
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Old 06-23-2010, 04:11 AM   #12
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My Z1s have lasted about 6k miles of street driving plus the equivalent of 3 track weekends. They are getting a little worn, they could last another hard day at the track.

With that, you will probably want to go with 2 sets of tires.
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Old 06-23-2010, 07:28 AM   #13
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I run Dunlop Z1 Star Specs and love 'em. If you are worried about winter weather, get a set of cheap 17" wheels and dedicated winter tires (Dunlop Wintersport 3D are what I run, but I bought 'em 4 years ago, so there may be something better out there). I think you'll find all season tires a disappointment. Then you can run your summer tires on track wheels the rest of the year. You can sell the OEM rears to another track junkie on a budget to help offset the cost (4x OEM 18" rears is the cheap way to go square... I think most people have to run a spacer up front to do that, though).
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Old 06-23-2010, 08:26 AM   #14
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ok, so these are my thoughts. Let me know if this is completely off base. Like I said in the end its all about function, but while the car is a DD I would still like to do some style.

1 set of wheels and tires for track only, from what i have read probably a 17" to 18". Then another set that are just my DD wheels and tires in a 18" to 19", now I know you guys said suspension is not a need at first to get some seat time which I will do, but I would like to do a suspension at least for cosmetic looks on the daily. Is there a suspension that functions well on the track but well still be good for daily driving or am I trying to do to much with one vehicle?

now remember too, im not trying to go all out tracking at first. While the car is my DD i am going to learn the car, get seat time and learn everything I can about the scene, then once I feel comfortable probably pull it off the road and get more with in the track scene.

Sorry for all the question, I am very analytical when it comes to this kind of stuff. I do lots of research so I know what I am getting into.
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Old 06-23-2010, 10:31 AM   #15
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If you are running 18" then I'd look into some used Continental Tires from a GS team. I sell all of my 17" tires to guys that do track events. They wear really well, are a medium compound and are cheap. I sell mine for $100/set and that's dirt cheap for a dedicated race tire that will get you at least 3 to 4 weekends out of them
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Old 06-23-2010, 11:09 AM   #16
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Aren't the continental GS tires still R-Comps? For a brand new track driver?

The coilovers from AST, TCKline, and some Ground Control should all be streetable as long as you don't go crazy with spring rates. I'm on AST 4200's with 650/550 front/rear spring rates, and it's firm, but definitely still streetable, and I live in England, where the roads are not generally what I'd describe as smooth.
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Old 06-23-2010, 12:16 PM   #17
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R-compounds are fine for a new driver. The biggest issue is that they'll mask some of your problems. If you're going out with an instructor, this won't be a big issue. Also, it's not nearly as big of a problem-masker as in autocross.

My suggestion: get a cheap but somewhat light set of 17's, maybe Rota Slipstreams. 17x7.5 are $625 to your door. Can't beat that! As for tires, if you want something that will last, check out Toyo RA-1's, or Hankook Z214's in the hard compounds if you can find them (c31). The medium compounds (c51) will still last you awhile. You'll probably eat up your tires quicker as a newbie due to plowing through corners. Rears might actually do ok on the M3 with the limited slip. Won't chew up the inner rear.
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Old 06-23-2010, 12:24 PM   #18
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Quote:
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My suggestion: get a cheap but somewhat light set of 17's, maybe Rota Slipstreams.
I think 17" fitments will be limited for M3s. I'm pretty sure the Apex ARC8s will clear the front brakes.

But 17" tires will be much cheaper. The Dunlop Z1s even have a 265 wide tire in a 17" fitment...not sure if it is the optimal diameter for an M3 though.

You will have difficulty finding 17" non-R Comps wider than 255.
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Old 06-23-2010, 12:48 PM   #19
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Thanks a lot guys this is very helpful information and what I was looking for, this is something I have wanted to do since as far back as I can remember and now I finally have the money to pursue it and am dropping all other toys to do so and be fully dedicated towards it.

I think we covered a good bit on tires...

Now about the trannys, I have been doing tons of looking on the SMG vs. 6MT. Mostly on the reliability of it as a DD and it seems hit or miss but if it makes it past the 30k to 40k mark not many have problems, the problems seem to come in the early stages.

Now you guys seem very happy with your 6MTs, which I understand. I love a manual, but for track use I was very intrigued by the SMG tranny. Lets say we set failure issues aside and cost if it does fail. Do you still feel the manual is a better way to go? or that the SMG has downsides when tracking? I can find lots of information on the SMG on the street, but not tons on the track and it seems to be 50/50 what I do find.

I did look into the E46 Crevier M3 that seems to have tons of success with the SMG tranny (once they dialed it in and worked out the bugs) does anyone else any anymore information on exactly what they did to this car tranny wise?

Also, I read somewhere that the SMG is not allowed in some race events or orgs, is this true to your knowledge?

Thanks again
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Old 06-23-2010, 12:55 PM   #20
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Never driven an M3 with an SMG so I have no idea how fast it shifts, but if it's anything like the Z4 SMG I drove, holy crap, stay far far away.

Honestly, you'll become a better driver with a 6MT. You'll learn the balance of the car under braking and cornering much better. Plus there's nothing quite like a perfectly matched heel-toe downshift
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