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Unread 10-21-2011, 10:04 AM
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Fair! Fair! is offline
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Default Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

GRM $2011 Challenge Update - Part 1: Sorry for the delay, the past two weeks have been very busy here at Vorshlag, and I am finally getting caught up after being at the Challenge for several days. All of the new build tables are fabricated and moved into our shipping and assembly room, which de-cluttered that area considerably. We moved 7 cars into the shop area in the past week, and I finally wired up the new lift yesterday, so we're cranking out some prep work on our own cars + customer cars.

Warning: this thread update is LONG. We have 950+ pictures uploaded and a lot to talk about (especially with our entry unexpectedly winning the whole GRM Challenge?!), so go grab a frosty beverage, sit back, and get ready to read about our GRM Challenge experience. I know some of you reading this are thinking of building a GRM Challenge $20XX entry, and that's great - it is a fun event. I hope after reading this thread you know more about what you really need to do if you want to win, and can learn from some of our mistakes (we made some big ones!). I try to be as open and honest as possible, don't pull any punches, and this version of the event coverage is from my point of view. It is based only on what we know from going to the GRM Challenge for the past two years, building our one Challenge entry, and is by no means all inclusive. Just our opinions, comprende?

Pictures & Results

Of course we snapped some pics, and maybe even went overboard. We took pictures with three iPhone4s, an iPad2, a Nikon D90 SLR, and even got pictures from another team's point-and-shoot camera (thanks to Team CM Racing/Tim Spellmen!), and also some video from the iPad, iPhones and my Sony 1080P vidcam. Lots and lots. Some of these upcoming vids are very enlightening to people planning to build a car for this event, so keep reading if you want to know more.

As for the results, we took pictures of each results sheet as it was printed, and that's what I've got. If you go to full screen you can read it all clearly, so it works. One quick explanation on the points scoring system: 125 points is the perfect score. Up to 25 points from from concours, and up to 100 from the "dynamic score" of your ranking in combined autocross + drag time. The team with the lowest combined drag + autox time = 100 points for their dynamic score, and every other team's dynamic score is a percentage of that (team with lowest combined time / your team's combined time * 100). We had a perfect 100 for winning the autocross + 21.9375 in concours for a winning score of 121.9375. 2nd place was 120.3548. See? Look at the Overall Results to see the breakdown.
My previous post covered the last minute thrash Art Car theme application and our 17 hour tow to Gainesville. Here's where I start our event report of the $2011 GRM Challenge. After we got unhooked we went over to the race hotel (we didn't stay there because parking our big enclosed trailer was impossible) for the registration party on Thursday night. Last year we were rushing in and out of this party, since the car wasn't ready, but this year we were as prepared as we could be, so we stuck around and had a lot better time. Ate some pizza, had some beers, talked to the GRM staff inside, then we walked the parking lot - and even with some light sprinkles of rain it turned into a car show. Lots of people were working on their cars, having some drinks, and it was good to catch up with some Challenge competitors we raced with last year. So many teams come back, year after year, that you will always run into a core group of racers you have seen before.

We noticed some very cool cars in the parking lot, and it was obvious the level of competition had gone up for 2011. The Condor Speed Shop crew had their vintage, patina'd, wide-bodied & turbocharged BMW 2002, the rear engined, turbocharged "Honda 600" feat of engineering was beautiful (see how small it is, above), and the Texas A&M engineering students were thrashing on their 300ZX turbo powered Miata (above, right), which had decided to push the starter bolts out of the block the day before. There was work and bench racing going on everywhere, and it was well worth it to hang out and talk to everyone and see their cars.

Friday morning we were 3rd in line at the gate, hoping to get a good spot for our trailer. We met some guys from Kentucky that had an 18 wheeler full of cars, including 2 green C4 Corvettes. While waiting, we saw two 2012 Boss302 Mustangs (including a Leguna Seca!) drive up and sneak in the gates, driven by the GRM staffers as part of their press fleet. The Leguna car was later used to let the Pro drivers get a feel for the course, and they set the baseline autocross time to beat of 46 seconds.

Costas and Amy were still adding "art car" stripes to Costas' new white helmet while I drove the trailer into the pit area. We unloaded the E30, which was still on the pretty 18x11" CCWs, and took a few pictures with the sun coming up. Then we swapped on the 15x10" steel wheels and got the car ready for concours. After waiting in line 2+ hours last year, we wanted to be the first in line for concours this year, and we were. Since we had everything ready before we left, Costas and Amy only had to install a few event sponsor decals + the Kumho "windshield" banner, which they put on the rear "windshield".

The Kumho Tires truck (a one man show; he solo drove the rig from California to Florida and set-up their area by himself - great guy!) was setting up a big covered display while Georgia Tech's Wreck Racing massive student team unloaded their hugely-winged, now roots supercharged Lexus V8 powered Miata. They have a phalanx of team members' bodies surrounding their car all day - it was hard to even get a close look at this beast.

As expected, all eyes were on the popular returning teams with crazy cars, like Nelson's V8 "wonderbug" and Wreck's supercharged and winged Miata. Apparently Nelson put back together a previous year's Challenge entry (with the same nitrous-fed, monster SBC V8 motor and chassis that seems to end up under all of his Challenge cars) in a short period of time, but now apparently had the car handling well, and of course its a low 10 to high 9 second drag car (if it ever needs to run that fast), so it was expected to do well overall. Wreck Racing brought their Challenge winning Lexus V8 Miata back, but had added a huge rear wing and a big supercharger was now sticking through the hood, so they were also expected to do well overall.

Observation: It seems that the wilder, more over-the-top, super-gutted race cars are more hyped and loved, photographed and published at these Challenge events. Builds that still have the interior, working sub-systems, things like windshields and working lights, more believable street car cars - not so much. Hey, I get it - wild and crazy sells magazines. Just realize that if you bring something that still looks like a regular car, its probably not going to get the same coverage as the wild-and-crazy, open wheeled, well painted (add flames!), super-detailed, tube chassis mega winged car. That's just how it goes. Not a gripe, and I'm not complaining - we bucked that trend and got a published article with Condor's E30 + our little flat-black E30 from last year's event, and as a build it was not as wild-and-woolly as many. With so many rear-engine conversions, crazy motors, ground scraping chassis, crazy paint jobs, and giant wings its easy to miss the sedate looking sedans in this field. So if you are building for the GRM Challenge with the intent of doing well and getting in the magazine, you better go over the top (chop the top off!) and don't hold back.

---see part 2 below---

Last edited by Fair!; 10-25-2011 at 10:03 AM.
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