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Unread 10-21-2011, 02:48 PM
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Default Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

GRM $2011 Challenge Update - Part 2: Continued from above.

Our Goals for the 2011 Challenge

We came to this year's Challenge with our little E30 with two goals: to do better in the concours, and to win the autocross event. Our auto-x testing showed we had made significant gains over our last year's set-up, and the Art Car theme looked pretty good to us. While our entry still didn't have any 1/4 mile development, we figured with what it weighs and the power it makes, that it should run a low 12 second time (if it could hook up and hold together!). If everything lined up we might snag a top 5 finish, and with some luck we could still theoretically pull out a win. With as much abuse as I threw at a previous T5 on a road course on 3rd and 4th gear straights, I knew the trans could stay together down a 1/4 mile drag strip, if we could avoid wheel spin and axle hopping. Who knows, right? Bench racing is always fun.

Concours Judging

So we get the car stickered up and roll into line at the concours area early, before all the judges had even arrived. Waited about 45 minutes while everyone showed up, they set-up the PA system and camera rigging, and got ready to start. We had the car cleaned up and ready to show.

While Costas was walking the autocross course (5+ times) I pushed the car to the judging area, then laid out the build book, the NASA Log Book, the special 2011 E30 V8 Calendars we made for the team's volunteers, and got ready for be judged. A crowd quickly formed as soon as they started judging and we had some great comments about the car. They handed me the microphone and I rattled on about the build and our 2011 progress for probably 10 minutes, and then thanked the judges and took the car for its weigh-in.

That part was a bit disappointing - as you can see, our car was far from a lightweight at this event again, tipping the scales at 2507 lbs. There were lots of top finishing cars in the 2000-2200 pound range, and the lowest weight I saw was 1300 from them rear engined Honda 600. Yikes. The front:rear bias on the V8 E30 was terrible at 61%F/39%R, and the cross weights were even way off (54%/46%). Clearly we had not placed the motor in the chassis far enough back to get the weight off the nose. This was from a combination of time saving and a conscious choice to not alter the firewall. Cutting out the firewall/dash and moving the engine way back would make the car not legal for almost any autocross class outside of EMod, and would remove a lot of the "street" features (wipers, dash, etc) that the Challenge rules say we were supposed to keep. We also chose to keep the full interior, all of the wiring, the complete/functional dash, steel body panels, and all of the OEM glass. This was half the reason we chose this particular car to build - it had a perfect dash, door panels, glass and carpet.

Yes, we knew that to win overall we needed to build a completely gutted, if not fully tube-framed car, like some of the other consistently top finishing competitors. We had plans for a killer $2012 car that would be just that, but I was not sure I could get as many volunteers to ever donate this much time to a Challenge project again - and wasn't sure I could afford to spend as much of my time on a build like this.

Autocross Event

No matter, that was out of our control at this moment. We were through the concours judging and ready for the autocross. The skies were overcast and the weather report threatened of rain, so we waited for other teams' to run, hopefully cleaning the course off, and watched their times. It was a big game of chicken, waiting to see which top teams would go up first to take their runs. I suck at waiting, and with the rain potential I talked Amy and Paul into getting up there by 10:30 am, hours earlier than we originally planned. Costas wired up the radios, we stuck the video camera in the car, checked tire pressures, and Amy got set-up to take pictures. I forgot to turn the vidcam on, but we got videos from later runs.

We could take 5 timed runs that counted (only 4 with a Pro driver), and Costas drove over to the autocross course area planning to just make 2 quick runs, bang-bang! This was to beat the rain, and get some clean, quick times in early. Sure, it might clean up more, and track temps could rise and add grip, but it could also rain, somebody could dump oil or have a wheel come off and make for a big delay (that actually happened, twice), so these were to be just some "Safety Runs".

His first run looked great, but the dang finish timers didn't trip! We were frantically talking on the radio while I dumped tire pressure and checked the tires for heat after the run. They were warm, the car felt OK, so he pulled up for a 2nd run quickly, with no one waiting in line. His 2nd run looked great, but it was obvious the limited slip differential was toast, laying down a long black stripe from the right rear on corner exit. After his 2nd run, I gave Paul some bad advice on the radio: "push the braking points deeper!" On his 3rd run he was cautiously pushing the brakes harder into the big braking zones. The brakes still suck on this car, they got really squirrelly braking into the fastest section, and he had to drive around a corner and DNF to avoid a wall of cones.

Left: In-car video from one of Costas' late afternoon runs. Right: Video of a built $2011 C4 Corvette, with motor running.

So after 3 early attempts he had one good, timed run - but it was 2 seconds quicker than anyone else had run up to that point. Costas hopped out of the car and had 2 teams ask him to drive their teams' cars, but he politely declined - that's what the Pro drivers were for. And the Pro drivers looked good, with a line forming behind one in particular Pro driver (Alan - great driver & super nice guy), who put down most of the other fastest teams' times.

The announcer talked about Paul's quick autocross time on the PA system and soon after some of the faster cars stopped waiting, coming to the grid to take some runs. There were several teams that got close, including the wonderbug, but nobody's car could match Paul's early run time. We waited and waited until late in the afternoon, when the sun was out and the track surface was up, to finally take his last 3 runs. At around 3 pm conditions looked perfect, but 3 more attempts at the course didn't result in a quicker time. His first afternoon run was only 3 tenths off his best morning time, but the brakes started getting worse and we ended up sitting on his first timed run. It was a nervous wait until the course was to close down at 4 pm, but our little E30 was still on top by day's end!

There was some late day drama, with the Texas A&M team getting their car finally running minutes before the course was supposed to close. It was pushed started by the team and their own team driver made 3 quick runs, dropping 10 seconds between their 1st and 3rd runs, with laptop engine tuning in the pits between. For one attempt at a hero run they stuck Pro driver Alan in their car, but it crapped out at the starting line and he didn't get a good start. They then shut down the course and the A&M team members, Costas and I picked up the cones and helped load the trailer.

We then got the car ready to drag race for Saturday - bolted on the skinny front drag tires, unhooked the front swaybar, and put the E30 back in the trailer. We headed back to town, got cleaned up, and went to the Friday night banquet (all 3 banquets are included with your entry fee). The food and beer were good - even better than Thursday's party - and we met some cool folks that sat at our table for dinner (Team CM Racing), and chatted up some other teams.

We got to see the concours judging scores, and we were happy to be in 7th place out of 48 entries for that category. There were some AMAZINGLY clean cars there, with insane levels of detailing, so to be 7th was an improvement for us over last year. That score coupled with the autocross win put is in the overall lead by a small margin. With some seriously fast in the drag cars right behind us in overall placings, however, we knew our moment in front was probably short lived. Asking around for estimated drag times we felt that at least 3 cars would pass us after the drags were done. The ones we worried about were Matt & Matt's 4th gen LT1 Camaro, Nelson's wonderbug, and the Special K dodge.

---see part 3 below---

Last edited by Faerus; 10-24-2011 at 05:26 PM.
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