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  #61  
Unread 10-08-2017, 09:55 AM
rkneeshaw rkneeshaw is offline
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Default Re: Vorshlag BMW E46 - Daily Driven Track Car Project

Hey Terry,

Have you looked into the M3 fuel baffle to address the fuel starvation issues? Its like a $15 part and installs in a few minutes, and it fits with the stock non-m fuel pumps.

Also I was wondering if you ever got that OBDII bluetooth OBDLink device working well with track addict. I've been using harry's laptimer with the OBDLink LX and I'm finding the PID update rate from our car's DME just isn't very fast at all. It was causing "skips" and "jumps" in the speed and RPM and other data that harrys laptimer was overlaying on the video. So I had to remove all PIDs except speed and RPM and tweaked a few other settings and I think I've got it updating quick enough to result in some much better numbers overlayed on video. I'll know after my next event in 2 weeks.
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Unread 11-10-2017, 11:37 AM
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Default Re: Vorshlag BMW E46 - Daily Driven Track Car Project

Project update for November 10th, 2017: Last time we had a record FIVE PART forum thread update here - and that was only a month ago. And this time... well, its another FIVE part post, so you better grab a snack.



As you can see above our TTD E46 has jumped up two classes to TT4, then we raced it with NASA at NOLA Motorsports Park - with somewhat shocking results. We will cover the latest round of mods (Big Wang!) that pushed this build out of TTD class (a class that is going away in 2018 ) and then chronicle the race NOLA race weekend at the end.



We also need to catch up with work done to the 328i Track Rat dual purpose build we couldn't fit in last time (including 17x10" wheels RS4 tires, above left), and we have recently completed a huge round of repairs to the black 325 automatic we bought earlier this year (above right) - soon to be a Daily Driver for Amy so we can LS swap her Scion FR-S. So once again we have a lot to cover!

FINAL MODS & DELIVERY OF 328i TRACK RAT

We started building this 328i in 2016 "on spec" as a dual purpose street/track car, but heavily track focused. We tackled the suspension, brakes, roll bar, chassis reinforcement, and more. Last time we covered the many changes to the interior and safety bits that were upgraded.



HARD MOTORSPORT FLARES ADDED

We had planned on selling this car with a set of 17x8" Jongbloed 3-piece wheels and Hoosier race tires we had in the shop from another project. When our customer Jeremy saw the car he loved it, but liked the 17x10" Forgestar F14 wheels and flares on our red 330, so we ordered up another set of raw wheels and HARD Motorsport flares.



This set of flares was specific to the E46 non-M sedan chassis. These were mocked up on the front fenders and marked on the paint to see where to trim the fender lips. The mounting holes for the bolt-on/rivet-on flares were also marked and drilled in both the flare and fender.



There was a slight bit of trimming to perfect the fit. After the front fender lip was cut off (at the lower marked edge of where the flare touched the body) they were then riveted in place using the black aluminum rivets included in the kit.



The rear is obviously a lot more work than the front, as these pictures show. We went over this on our red 330 but we took a few more pictures this time. The flares are mocked up and the top and bottom edges are marked, then the outer skin of the rear fender was cut off at the flare's lower edge. The inner structure of the rear fender was then pie cut and folded out 90 to meet the outer edge. These were then welded to the outer skin and the "flaps" were cut off.



The inner structure was then seam welded to the outer fender skin and made waterproof with seam sealer. This is a significant amount of welding that should not be ignored. The structural integrity of the rear of the unibody relies on this outer skin to be welded to the inner skin - don't skip this step.



The fender area was then primed and the flares were riveted on. As you can see the sedan uses some extra pieces that tie into the rear doors, but the structural changes for tire clearance are all done on the rear fender area (the door is not cut). We took the picture above right with these flares and a real E46 M3, and you can see they are nearly identical.

UPGRADED WHEELS & TIRES

Picking the wheels and tires for this dual purpose street/track car looked at three main variables: cost, grip and wear. The tire options for 17" wheels are less costly than 18" versions, but the width options run out above 255mm width. While we could probably have run an 18x10" wheel and the popular 285/30/18 size under these flares, the customer wanted the more cost effective 17" tire option for this set.



In the 255/40/17 size there are many options to choose from, but for what this car needed to do (drive to and from the track and also put in a lot of quick laps), these two stood out: Bridgestone RE-71R and Hankook R-S4. The price of the RS-4 was a tick lower and it seems to wear better than the RE-71R, but look at the difference in tread width and section widths. The R-S4 is nearly 0.5" wider! Stretched out onto the 10" wide wheel the wider 9.4" tread width of the Hankook will be able to put more rubber on the ground and costs $130 less per set (at the time of this writing). The softer compound of the RE-71R might make up for this width deficit, but the wear would very likely be higher.



The wheel choice was rather easy since we get most of our custom built wheels from Forgestar. We also work with D-Force on flow formed BMW wheels, and their 18x10" option is a nice setup, but he wanted 17" tires so we chose Forgestar. We also work with some other higher cost companies for custom wheel sizes but the price point wasn't right for this build. We ordered a set of 17x10" F14 wheels identical to what we used on our 330, requesting them in a "raw" finish to save time getting them built. One of our local vendors powder coated them with a flat textured black finish, which looks great clean or dirty. The RS-4 tires were mounted and balanced up and of course we got a wheel and tire weight.

BELTS, HOSES, DRIVETRAIN MOUNTS, RADIATOR, FLUIDS, OIL PAN BAFFLE & OIL PUMP DRIVE

In this section we will show the oiling system upgrades, cooling system changes, custom brake cooling, new belts/hoses, Vorshlag motor/trans mounts, new Motul fluids, plus some other small repairs and a few more little restoration jobs. That's a lot of work, and some of this was done before we sold the car and some completed after, but I'll go over these tasks quickly.



A Mishimoto aluminum radiator was installed along with new E46 radiator hoses, heater hoses, and a water pump. The Mishimoto upgrade is cheap insurance that we do to any track E46. This removes any plastic from the radiator and adds system volume and heat shedding ability with the thicker aluminum core.



A new internal seal and a fresh steering rack boot stopped one last power steering leak.



As is usually the case the original hydraulic fluid filled motor mounts were toast, and one side had separated completely. This accelerates a lot of the hoses/radiator leaks on these cars - the unrestrained engine, flopping around the engine bay, yanking on all of the hoses.



Our competition motor and trans mounts went in place, with Nylon motor and Red poly trans mounts being the preferred combination on this heavily track-centric car.



A spare M54 oil pan was already on hand so it was cleaned in the ultrasonic tank at our engine shop, HorsePower-Research (HPR); we keep a spare pan around for these baffle installs because we do them so often. The engine on this 328 was then supported from above with a beam style engine bay stand, and the crossmember was dropped. Then the stock oil pan was removed.



An oil pan baffle from VAC was ordered and fitted to the oil pan. There is always a bit of trimming, fiddling, then some TIG welding to install these. A very worthwhile upgrade for road course use - prevents long high-g corners from starving the oil pump pick-up in the pan.



Another very worthwhile upgrade for track use is a beefier oil pump drive shaft. We picked the VAC unit and swapped that in place of the OEM bits, which had a loose nut on the shaft and was bound to come off. There are other brands and styles but regardless - upgrade the oil pump shaft on any track abused M54 to avoid complete oil pressure loss. Ask me how I know this!



The OEM balancer is usually a cause for alarm for track use, but this one proved to be in perfect shape. No cracks in the rubber isolator ring and it had not "slipped" relative to the hub, so it was re-used (with the customer's consent).



To finish off the maintenance a full change with Motul ester based synthetic oil, Wix oil filter, and Gates belts were installed.



Early on in the build I decided to replace the exhaust with a Magnaflow stainless cat-back system. This system fit great except right at the dual tip opening in the rear bumper cover. That was trimmed to match the wider exhaust tips and now looks OEM.

FRONT BRAKE COOLING

On a road course you have to use the brakes, a lot, creating a lot of heat. To keep the rotors, calipers, pads and fluid in the proper operating range you should really think about positive pressure brake cooling. The OEM brake cooling from BMW is barely better than nothing, and the E46 non-M has poor brake cooling support from the aftermarket, so we set out to develop something for the E46 330 front brakes (which we have on the front of this 328i).



For the prototype setup we made the backing plates and ducts at the hub from aluminum, hand cut and TIG welded together. If/when we make a production version it will be made from stainless steel and CNC laser cut, but for a one-off aluminum works fine. The backing plate is designed to push as much air inside the rotor face, to cool the hubs then be sucked through the vented rotor like an air pump. We went with a 3" oval opening, to keep almost 100% of the airflow inside the rotor face. The closeness of the backing plate to the rotor face is to help seal the hub area to the ducting, so air won't go around the rotor but instead through it.



Once the backing plates were welded they were bolted in place and 3" high temp brake duct hose was attached to the oval inlets on the backing plates. These need to be fed from a high pressure zone at the front of the car, which we will show below.

continued below
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Unread 11-10-2017, 11:48 AM
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continued from above

We need to feed high pressure cooling air to the backing plates, and that air comes from the front of the car. Since the customer did not want to switch to the E46 M3 nose - which has better brake inlet options - we re-used the OEM inlets in the lower grill.



Again, the OEM setup has some brake ducting, but it just dumps air into the inner fender. We wanted to keep the forward inlet sections that seal to the front nose but re-route into hoses that run along the front swaybar. Above you can see where a "bite" was taken out of the OEM outlet, which puts cooling area "near" the hub area. As the tire turns it cuts off that supply, so we needed a re-route ahead of that point.



The smooth plastic rectangular duct work from the factory also incorporates some of the inner fender liner. These are actually very well made, but the original bits from this car were long smashed and/or missing. So a pair of new ducts was purchased from BMW. These molded plastic parts have rubber flaps at the front to better seal to the bumper cover's rectangular openings.



About a third of the back sections of these new ducts were cut off, then some aluminum oval tubing sections were fabricated, shaped, and riveted into the rectangular ducts at the rear - pointing them away from the fender liner and tire.



The pictures above show the modified front inlet duct work installed, and the diverted section that normally cools the alternator (which seems a bit silly) was blocked off to force all of the air into the brakes. The 3" high temp hose was slid over the rear...



The hoses were secured with 3" worm gear clamps and the brake cooling was complete. Doesn't look impressive externally, since the front inlets are stock, but it definitely pushes some air through the rotors and keeps the brakes and front hubs cooler. This front duct work was so customized it is not likely that we will make production "inlet duct kit", but maybe some E46 owners will see what we did and make their own home brew versions.

328i ALL WRAPPED UP!

The Forgestar F14 17x10" wheels and tires + the HARD Motorsport flares really wake up the look of this car, and the added grip will definitely be felt on track. We got a final weight with all of the work completed and were pretty happy with the results.



The before and after pictures say a lot there. This car is now 344 pounds lighter yet is still street legal, emissions complaint, has functional air conditioning and heat, lights and wipers, and all of the factory glass. The wheels are all 2" wider than stock, suspension is much firmer, brakes are bigger and cooled, oiling system upgraded, and tons of deferred maintenance has been completed.



Jon cut a little vinyl per the customer's request and Brad got it all cleaned up. I'm happy with the finished results, as we took a rather plebeian 328i and turned it into a lighter, more nimble, better stopping track car that can still be street driven.



The customer has since wrapped the roof (which hides the carbon delete panel fairly well), added the factory undertray bits, plus a few other upgrades. This 328i has already seen several weekends of track use and the owner loves it. He can drive to the track with cold air blowing and the windows rolled up, then get there and let 'er rip. This ended up with more of a dedicated track car interior than what we had on our 330, and made for more of a "dual purpose" build than even our red car as well (we've now stopped street driving our TT4 car).

2003 325Ci COUPE AUTOMATIC

Earlier in 2017 I picked up a "problem child" E46 coupe from a former customer who was just tired of dealing with maintenance issues. We used to be his shop of preference back in 2011-13, but when our shop moved from North to South Plano the distance just got too great and he stopped coming to us for service. He ended up getting the run around from a "normal repair shop", the type of place where they mark up the parts 500% and charge way too much for service work. Repairs bills with $800 starter replacements started wearing him down.



That kind of repair bill terrorism sucks, and I felt bad for the guy. When this car was under our care we took good care of it, and even upgraded the stock wheels to 17x8.5" D-Force wheels, replaced the A-, B-, and C-pillar interior panels, and did all sorts of maintenance. We have since steered away from doing "basic maintenance work", because unless you are willing to rip people off its a tough business to make money in. Now we do more track prep, suspension, chassis, safety, and fabrication work - which still doesn't make any money, but at least it is fun!



So back in the spring he called me and said he wanted to unload it. His kid had kind of driven the car hard and it wasn't nearly as pretty as it was when we last saw it, 3 years earlier. It ran very rough, had a bent wheel, and needed many repairs. I bought it and hauled to the shop to get it cleaned up and running better.



Facebook just reminded me today that eight years ago I bought my first E46 (actually two on the same day). At this point I've stopped counting the E46 cars that have "followed me home", but they always leave our care in better shape then when we got them. That silver 328i above was transformed, and even Jack Daniels left cleaner and better running than before. Well this black 325 was barely running with a massive intake leak, plus that bent wheel. I figured this one would be an easy fix. Of course I was wrong!

DISA VALVE UPGRADE + WHEEL REPAIR



The M54 family of engines has a "dual tract" intake manifold, with a "DISA" valve after the throttle body. This valve switches between a long and even longer set of runners on the intake manifold. These valves are notorious for sticking and worse - falling apart and being ingested inside the engine. This one was literally falling apart, and luckily hadn't been eaten yet. It was leaking badly at the mount on the manifold, which is why it ran so poorly.



We learned that the M54B30 DISA valve we had from another 330 motor doesn't fit the smaller 2.5L M54B25, so it was time to rebuild the original DISA unit in this car. Like always I ordered the repair/upgrade kit from German Auto Solutions (I am not a dealer nor do I have any affiliation with them), shown above. This replaces a bunch of janky plastic parts with stronger, machined parts made from better materials for about $75. These are the features right from their website:
  • The plastic flapper valve has been replaced with a black anodized & stress relieved 6061-T6 aluminum flapper valve that is twice as strong and many times less brittle than the stock part it replaces.
  • The plastic crank lever has been replaced with a black anodized 6061-T6 aluminum bell crank lever that is four times stronger than the stock part it replaces.
  • The flapper valve and lever lock together on a precision machined hex shaped taper & are screwed together, instead of just snapped together like the original design. Locking the parts together prevents any possible movement and wear between the two pieces, the #1 cause of failure in the stock design.
  • The parts are securely locked together by a custom, light weight, titanium pivot screw that's held captive from outside the housing. The titanium pivot screw also replaces the stock steel pin of the original design. Since the pin is part of the pivot screw, and the pivot screw is held captive from outside the DISA housing, there is no longer a possibility of a steel pin coming loose and getting sucked into the engine
We do this upgrade on virtually all M54 cars we build to race or to street drive. For $75 in parts you can prevent catastrophic engine failure, and in this case make the car run 1000 times better. This should be on the list for ALL E46 CARS PURCHASED.



These new parts + an upgraded Viton O-ring (also from GAS) were installed into the old DISA valve then it went back into the intake. And it ran smooth as glass! The wheel was repaired and looks as good as new, too. Still had some leaks to fix...

LEAK FIXES + NEW BRAKES + NEW STOCK SUSPENSION

I want to make this slushbox equipped E46 coupe into a nice, reliable, smooth riding commuter car for my wife. Her commute is pretty crappy and has a lot of stop and go traffic, so the automatic might be a nice change from her normal manually shifted cars. So to keep it simple we're NOT upgrading the brakes, suspension, or engine beyond new stock parts.



This engine has the normal leaks and the first place we often look is the valve cover gasket. Sure enough this rubber gasket had turned into a brick, cracked, and was leaking badly.



With a new gasket, spark plugs and some engine bay pressure washing once it was buttoned up the engine was now leaking much less. We're keeping an eye on the now clean engine looking for additional leaks to tackle, but for now its a whole lot better. Some vacuum lines were also replaced at the same time.



The old battery was a massive lead acid unit, which was very old and was not holding a charge. This poor car sat at our shop for 2 months waiting for a break in the schedule and was driven out of the shop and back in every day, so that didn't help the battery's life. This new Bosch unit is the same size as the OEM battery and tips the scales at 47.2 pounds!



The suspension was pretty tired, not necessarily from the miles (160K) but the age and use (it was 100% part of a daily driver grind). So new OEM replacement control arms, LCA bushings, inner and outer tie rods, swabar end links, top mounts and drivetrain mounts were ordered. The old ball joints and bushings on the control arms were hammered, but the new bits fix all of that. Normally I will always go to Powerflex 2-piece LCA bushings at the very least, but this time I went with stock. Should ride smooth like butter!



The stock motor mounts (see old vs new, above left) and strut top mounts (also old vs new, above right) were both worn and "shrunken" over time. This is what happens to rubber after 13+ years - and we went back with stock bits on these parts as well. Rare for me, but we have ZERO delusions of this car ever seeing track use.



The rear brakes looked fine but the front rotors and pads were done, so those got replaced with Centric Premium rotors and Centric branded ceramic "ultra-quiet" something-or-other pads.



Brad pressure washed the aluminum chassis brace (which was covered in oil) and then wrapped up the front suspension repairs. This shot is without the plastic front undertray installed (its still intact on this car). We took the car home after this round of work and... the transmission started slipping badly after about 30 miles of driving. First automatic E46 I've ever bought and of course its bad! Since I have a low mileage GM E46 trans laying around, of course this car has the ZF automatic - which has outrageous rebuild prices ($2000-4000, ha!) I will talk about that issue and subsequent repairs next time.

continued below
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Unread 11-10-2017, 12:00 PM
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continued from above

INITIAL TT4 PREP TO E46 330

You made it through the work on the silver 328 and the stock black 325 above, so now we finally get to talk about the red 330! Last time we covered a ton of work to the front of the car - new bumper beam, M3 bumper cover, inlet ducts, brake backing plates, splitter, air dam and tire walls. We took it to MSR-Houston and.... had a massive aero imbalance. All front df, no back aero, not hard to imagine, right? What would fix this aero imbalance - nothing less than a massive rear wing.



We were out of points for TTD mods, thanks to the re-write of the base classing in 2016, otherwise we would have done this full aero build TWO YEARS AGO and been much faster this whole time. Since TTD goes away next year, we were way ahead of the season long 2017 regional TTD championship back in June, and since no TT cars got points at MSR-H due to timer issues, we had a lock on the regional TTD class championship. So we decided to test the waters in next year's class early - TT4.

There were a few small repairs and updates needed but the bulk of this work was all about the rear wing.

WINDSHIELD REPAIR

We started out by replacing the front windshield, which had a massive crack in it on the passenger side, which was growing.



Since we no longer had plans to ever street drive this car we could get the less costly, thinner glass windshield without the "Rain Sensor". $130 installed, no more crack, no more pitting, perfect.

SECONDARY RADIATOR TOP BRACKETS

The wobble on the top of the radiator on this 330 (which has allowed the coolant reservoir to rock back into the power steering pulley) was finally traced (by looking at some other E46 models) to some missing upper rubber bushings that were never on this car when we bought it. These screw down into the top of the stock radiator and keep it in place. The spots they would be are now where we have the pins mounted for the AeroCatch latches for the hood, so we cannot just add those rubber knobs back.



So I asked Aaron to make these aluminum brackets (just inboard of the hood pins, above) that bolt to the radiator support and "capture" the trailing edge of the top of the Mishimoto and keep it from moving. Some rubber pads keep the aluminum bracket from wearing through the radiator - we'd see how this worked at NOLA. I brought a spare coolant reservoir with us just in case.

BIG ASS WANG

We had read the TT4 aero rules very carefully a few weeks earlier and had ordered an AJ Hartman Aero carbon fiber wing element to fit the limit of the class - which can be as wide as "the maximum width of the car" and placed "no more than 8 inches above the roof line".



There are no other wing element or mounting limitations. We measured the stock bodied 2003 325Ci Coupe width at 69" at the rear fender lips (we have to ignore the side mirrors), then ordered the 14" chord wing at 68-1/2" wide, to have a bit of margin for measuring error. Now it was time to make uprights using the basic shape and height of the E46 Chainsaw Massacre build's wing.



Ryan had fabricated the uprights for the M3 by hand, and it took a big chunk of time to make all of those interior cuts. This time I asked Aaron to make the set for my 330, and we worked with Jason to simplify the trunk mounting points and removed the extended lower bumper beam section. We moved the wing forward a hair but kept the same basic height. The first mock-up were made in fiber board, shown above.



After I sketched what I wanted changed from the mock-up he was able to get that into CAD, make some CNC plasma cut uprights, and incorporated a slot-and-key feature I wanted with some load spreading mounting plates. These four slotted mounting plates self-jigged into the keys of the uprights to make fabrication easier and more repeatable.



This worked perfectly and the mounting plates were tack welded to the uprights on the car. These were then removed and finish TIG welded on the bench, with a good bit of heat. The mounting holes were countersunk and flush mounted hardware was used to secure them to the trunk from the inside.



This was all designed in up front but to verify legality we moved the wing to maximum Angle of Attack (AoA) before stall (12) and using a level from the rear of the wing and an 8" tall box on the top of the roof, we were within the limit of the rules. We set the AoA to 6 based on some calculations and speculations as to the effective downforce of the front splitter. We could dial the rear wing to balance the front at the track soon.



The wide angle lens makes this wing look much bigger than the car, but it is in fact 1/2" narrower than the stock fender lips, and well within the limits of the class. The end plates were direct copies of the somewhat subdued units from the V8 M3, and also well within the limits of TT4 class rules.

WEIGHT SAVING INTERIOR UPGRADES

Moving to TT4 means we would be massively overweight with the power we currently have (210 whp avg, or 216 whp peak) for TTD - hell, we were 30 whp down for TTD, but had no more points for upgrades in that class. Until we do something drastic we could at least ditch some weight. 115 pounds of ballast in the trunk was easy, but after that would start to get more difficult.



I have been wanting to ditch the stock steering wheel and airbag for some time, and now that there's no more street use it is appropriate to upgrade this. The weights above aren't super high but removing an explosive device from in front of my face is always a win.



For this car I chose a Sparco L360 (Ring) Steering Wheel, which has a black suede cover and comes in 330mm diameter. Sparco's hub adapters are hit or miss and for the E46 I prefer the MOMO 6-bolt Steering wheel hub adapter, part #2012. This allows any 6-bolt 70mm PCD steering wheel to bolt to the E46 steering column AND keep the horn. Even though it doesn't see street use, having a functional horn has kept my cars from being backed into on grid more than once. Keep the horn!



There are airbags in each side door, so those two 1.6 pound "potential bombs" were also removed. I lost some pictures, including getting the 13.3 pound weights of the OEM door panels, with speakers. We were replacing the panels with low profile, thermoplastic formed racing door panels from HARD Motorsport (3.0 pounds each).



Mounting these is done with rivnuts added to the door, then what look like 3D printed plastic stand-offs screwed into those threaded holes. Then the door panels is fitted a bit and bolted in place.



Brad traced the custom mounting panels from the V8 M3 to make another set for the driver's door on this 330. This panel mounts the factory power mirror controls, so those can still work. This bolts in place of the little tweeter speaker.



There is a mount for a pull strap which passes through a slot in the door panel. The passenger door kept the little speaker in place for now, but we might go back and make a blanking plate for that side later. We briefly thought about yanking ALL of the carpet and foam backing, which probably still adds 70 pounds to the car, but I decided to hold back - for now.

FRONT AIR DAM TWEAKS

So last time I pointed out that "anything can be called a canard" since the NASA ST/TT rules do not define what a canard is. So the "tire wall" we built last time, which absolutely does not create downforce, was called a canard... which isn't allowed in TT4. Instead of forcing the issue with a protest against myself at NOLA we looked at this a little harder, Jason and I read the air dam rules and figured we could easily make that taller here and cover up all of the tire wall extension at the somewhat incomplete fender flare. This would have less aero drag and be completely legal. This is what we call a "win-win".



A small bracket was added at the base of the outer edges of the splitter and then a piece of plastic "race roll" was riveted in place, covering the tire wall and looking nothing like a canard. It's all covered up by a 100% legal air dam extension.



I also asked Aaron to trace a line showing the "projected outline" of the legal M3 bumper cover, which the TT4 rules reference 2 times in the aero rule section. This way its easy to see where the 4" splitter extension was measured from.

FINAL WEIGH-IN AND LOADING



With 1/2 tank of fuel the car now sits at 2942 pounds (as shown above) and 3154 pounds with driver, gear and helmet. We had the car sitting at 3290 pounds with driver and the same fuel load for the previous NASA event (on a 3285 pound minimum), so the ballast removed from the trunk and the weight savings in the interior lost 136 pounds from our previous TTD setup. Still, we were VERY heavy for TT4 - minimum weight for our current power (210 whp avg) would be 2520 pounds with driver, which we could not hope to get to without MASSIVE amounts of cutting and carbon composites. This meant we were a staggering 634 pounds overweight for TT4 at the next event... not a good deficit to try to overcome. Of course we will be adding power and not trying to find 634 pounds of weight loss for our future TT4 build, so you can also say we were down 90 whp. I felt this deficit was so insurmountable that we'd be lucky to avoid LAST PLACE in class, and we had 5 signed up for NOLA.



Wow, 634 pounds overweight is massive, and as we loaded up and my head hung pretty low. Jon cut some vinyl and replace the "D" letters with "4" numbers. The 2-piece ramps plus the flip down door on the trailer made loading pretty easy, just as long you approach the end of the ramp carefully. Its still easier to load than the TT3 Mustang, that's for sure!



I'm sharing the TT4 classing sheet above with optimistic weight numbers of 2600 pounds - I could have put 2542 minimum, but inflated them a hair for "margin", hehe.... Who cares since the car is 600+ pounds heavier than that! Same goes for power - I claimed 215 whp avg, when its really 210 avg. Not that we will get dyno'd, but I always try to leave some margin for error on the stated numbers.



We also kept the two sets of 17x10" wheels mounted with 245/40/17 Hoosier R7 tires we had leftover from previous events, even though we could have run a 275mm max width tire and more aggressive A7 compound for TT4. I didn't want to blow the $$ on new tires for one event when we were THIS OVERWEIGHT. I thought briefly about running a "slower class" like TTC (we'd still be hundreds of pounds heavy), but I really wanted to run a NASA event against the fastest TT4 cars in our area as-is. And for reasons that would later prove to be true, I feel that the TTC class cars are faster than their TT4 counter parts.

continued below
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Default Re: Vorshlag BMW E46 - Daily Driven Track Car Project

continued from above

NASA @ NOLA, OCT 27-29, 2017

We have not raced at NOLA Motorsports Park in 4 years, but we had a lot of fun the last time we ran with NASA here. We were eager to get back and Amy and I both planned to drive the 330 this weekend. It was SO MUCH FUN - we are both glad we went and vowed to make at least one NOLA event per year in the future!



We completed this round of "TT4 prep" on Wednesday so we got on the road Thursday morning to make the 512 mile trek from north Dallas down to New Orleans to run at our final NASA weekend of 2017. We spent the entire day driving the 9-1/2 hours through Texas and Louisiana, got caught in some traffic around Baton Rouge, then rolled into NOLA right at dark. We unhooked the trailer, found a parts store to sell us DEF fluid for the diesel truck, went to the hotel, then found a local watering hole to get some good Cajun food.

FRIDAY TEST-N-TUNE

Friday was an absolutely beautiful Fall weather day in the deep south. Sunny, light breeze, 70-80F all day, just perfect. We arrived on time for the 8:30 drivers meeting for the test event we signed up for, where we hoped to re-learn this track we have only raced at once back in 2013. I was startled to see that the TT3 track record we set on the 2.75 mile course 4 years ago still hasn't been toppled (1:50.525), but I figured it would surely fall this weekend (it didn't).



The test day was run by the track itself and cost a whopping $250, which is relatively high for this area (our last test day at MSR-Houston cost $75), but they do put on a good show and the track had nearly every corner station manned. They separated the entrants into 3 groups: W2W Race cars, Advanced + Intermediate HPDE, and Beginner HPDE. Since we don't have a full cage in this car that meant I would go out in the Adv/Int HPDE group. There would be five sessions for each group during the day and I ended up running four of them. There was no riders, coaches, or instructors allowed in the cars, plus Amy could not take a session in my place - $250 per person per day. Bummer, but I would be able to ride along with Amy on Saturday for some coaching.



We unloaded the BMW and set the tire pressures (27 psi cold) on the silver wheel set, which had the older scrubbed set of R7s mounted. We were planning to run this set Friday and switch to the gold wheels (fresher tires) for Sat-Sunday.

It was good to do this test day, being that I hadn't driven this track in 4 years. It slowly came back to me and I was able to adjust my lines to work with this "momentum car" vs the more powerful setup of the Mustang. We stayed with our existing shock settings, and the 6 AoA wing setting felt damn near perfect. We adjusted tire pressures and got them all about 32-33 psi hot, with a 1 psi bias for the fronts. This course is CW so most of the corners are right handers, which meant the right side tires needed higher initial pressures when cold.



There were some bumps that had formed since the last time I ran here which were noticeable in 3 corners: T5, T6, and T7 all have a pretty big dip in them - but good dampers make these non-issues. There's some "gator teeth" curbing that you drive over in a few spots (which you will hear in my in-car video), and some FIA inside curbing that you can drive over if you enter the corners at the right angle. There is also a concrete wall along the pit straight that you need to avoid (more on that below!) and some armco out near some corner stations that seem to be magnetic as well. Our group on Friday could pass on any of the 5 straight sections of track parallel to the pit straight.



We figured out on this Friday test day that the M3 cluster's fuel gauge is "problematic". In my second session the car was fuel starving at "3/4 tank" gauge levels, which I knew was not right. So I went to the fuel pumps and... put nearly 3/4 of tank of fuel in the car? So it was reading high. After I filled it up it showed "Empty", WTF? So now I cannot trust the fuel gauge and we just started filling up after each session. We were using 3.0 gallons per 20 minute session, and I ran every lap of four sessions that day.



The range of cars that show up in HPDE are all over the map, from commuters on street tires to Corvettes on Hoosiers to other TT racers testing. There were only about 20 cars in our Adv HPDE test group so traffic wasn't too bad and we quickly figured out that our little 330 was one of the faster cars running, so I started gridding as the first or second car out. The aero was really working. As my courage increased, so did my speeds through the high speed esses!

The exit of T16 was pretty different from 4 years earlier, as they had paved a huge swath of run off area that used to be grass. They put a bunch of gator teeth in this area to discourage people from tracking out there but they told us that was all within track limits up to the concrete wall. One S2000 found his way into that wall Friday, destroying the whole right side of the car - but they beat the fenders out and he ran Saturday and Sunday anyway. I started using more and more gator teeth on track out and kept finding time... but it was a dangerous game to play.

Lap times started in the 1:59 range and at the end of the day I was squeaking into the 1:57 range, still about 7 seconds slower than my old TT3 times, ugh. There weren't any published times all day Friday so I had no idea what any of my competition was running - just going off times from my AiM Solo, but those were pretty accurate 4 years ago (always within 0.1 sec of the AMB loop).



We wrapped up the last session and swapped to the gold wheel set (above) to get the car ready for TT on Saturday. Some weather was supposed to move in and drop some wind/cold/rain overnight, but many of the Texas racers were camping out at the track in tents and trailers.



After swapping tires we noticed that they were wearing extremely well. The last set that wore badly was an old set from our TTC Corvette, which had some shoulder wear that was worsened on the 330. Lots of tire klag inside the wheel but otherwise this set is good for more testing. After we had the car prepped for Saturday we went to our hotel, got cleaned up, then met my nephew and niece (who both live in N.O.) at a French restaurant for a great dinner - and I got to meet my grand nephew for the first time. Cute kid.

SATURDAY - TT DAY 1

We arrived at the track early for instructor's meeting, driver's meeting, and then a TT meeting. It rained pretty hard Friday night and was still wet and sprinkling on grid as we went out for our first TT session. We had a large number of TT cars but only about half of the folks made it to grid for the "TT Warm Up" session, and while I debated going I ended up driving the whole session. This "Warm-Up" would not count towards results (and being wet it wouldn't matter for times) but it would set the grid for the next session, so I went out on the bald R7s.



Turns out that this wet session was a total blast and I had one of the quicker times of the session, running a 2:06 lap, which was about 9 seconds slower than my best times Friday in the dry but the quickest TT4 time (again, wet times don't mean much). What's weirder than entering a corner at 115+ mph flat on the floor in the dry is doing the same thing in the wet! One of the guys who I passed in this session said the rear wing was throwing up a rooster tail of water 40' in the air, "I couldn't see a damn thing - but you left me pretty fast anyway!" I ran the whole session and vacuumed the track a bit.

That wet session put me 3rd on grid for the dry-ish "TT Session 1", and I assumed we would fall way down the grid throughout the day - but that never really happened. The weather for this session was COLD (temps started in the 45F range), with high winds that would just cut through and made you shiver. Amy waited until after lunch to go out in the 330 with the HPDE 3/4 group ("Its too cold!") but I was on track for every TT session that day. Throughout the day the track was drying out except in a few stubborn corners, so times were dropping.



During that first dry TT session, my times immediately dipped into the high 1:56s, and the third TT session I ran a 1:56.599. And while I was hoping to not finish last, somehow I as shown in 2nd place? I only knew one of the TT4 guys, Dysen Pham (S2000), who is always the fastest TT4 car at NASA Texas events - and he comes to NOLA a lot and is fast here. There were also three BMW M3s in class, including an E36 with an S54 swap that held the track record.

In the 3rd session, "TT session 2", Dysen ran a 1:56.231 time but spun off track, hit some armco, broke his steering rack and had to come in on the flat bed. Since he did spin off track his times would be DSQ'd for that session. I ran a tick slower but the Race Hero readout and NASA results weren't posting right for the rest of the day - due to a wifi issue in the tower. That meant after the 2nd session we were completely in the dark. Frustrating, but I knew my AiM times at least. I figured one of the M3s would swoop in and destroy both of our times at some point.



In the 4th and final TT session I was maybe sitting in 2nd or 3rd, wasn't really sure at that point, but I wanted to try to catch Dysen's time. I was pushing the car VERY hard, driving through the small puddles at the apexes of a few turns, using all the road and even a bit of curbing, but just couldn't find the time. The predictive lap timer showed a 1:55.8 lap more than once but I could never nail it down. I pushed hard for all 6 laps in this final Saturday session and on the VERY LAST LAP TT took all day I managed to get down to what I saw as a 1:56.3 lap on my AiM SOLO. I knew that wasn't faster than Dysen's best lap in his DSQ session - but what about his fastest lap from the previous one?

continued below
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continued from above

I came into the pits after that session exhausted - I had ridden with my HPDE1 student in 3 sessions, took him for a ride in a HPDE4 session, rode in one session with Amy, and drove every lap on all four of my TT sessions that day (9 sessions). The cold weather sapped our energy as well.



We cleaned up, locked up but left the car out for the night with the windows up, then went to the awards banquet. They had some crazy good bar-b-q served up from a food truck outside and we went into the massive clubhouse to hear official results - which for once would be a total mystery. Did we finish 3rd? 2nd? Worse? Nobody knew.



Once we got our food we went upstairs in the clubhouse for the awards. The race director was reading off the TT results and lap times, and apparently he was looking at the wrong column (2nd best times). He read them in the right finish order, so there was some confusion. When he read off Dysen as 2nd and me as first for TT4, I was in shock - mostly because the times he read off were not our best. Turns out the official times had us a tenth of a second apart, with my 1:56.347 lap taking the win out of 5 in class vs Dysen's 1:56.441. That meant 2 Hoosiers, woo! I was loving that luck, but figured Sunday would be the inevitable TT4 blood bath. The S2000 mafia that swarms these events is pretty industrious and they tend to fix all manner of issues quickly. There was also rumor of a V6 swapped S2000 showing up to run TT4 on Sunday that Dysen would co-drive.



Amy drove two sessions that day and had a blast, and the car did great. We had battery issues on the vidcam but did get my best lap Saturday, just none of my Sunday laps. I also had some issues with the shifter, on both up and down-shifts, that ruined a few of my best laps. We will address both of these things next season.

SUNDAY - TT DAY 2

After sleeping for ten hours the night before (tired!) we woke up early, packed up the hotel room, and headed out Sunday morning to the track. The day started out a little warmer and the sun was out. More drivers and instructors meetings, then I worked on getting my student a check ride (he was more than ready for solo).



It was still 47F in our first session but the wind was down so it wasn't painfully cold. Most importantly the track was completely dry now and times started to drop. I was gridded P5 so I didn't have much traffic to deal with, which was a nice change. I was behind the two fast TTC cars and could keep them in sight. And while they both ultimately ran better times than TT4, you have to remember - TTC allows many things that TT4 does not, and these "dyno reclass" builds are going to be a thing of the past next year as TTC goes away. They have been fast all year, no doubt about it, but we will see if these TTC cars get faster - and by how much - next year when they all move to TT4 or TT5.



That day I ran the first session hard and found a 1:55.975. Dysen's co-drive in the "S3200" (see above) never materialized - they had all sorts of issues on that car - but the owner did enter, ran at least one session, and made some 2:00 laps on street tires. Another M3 came in second but 3 of our entrants from Saturday dropped out, so we only had 3 cars in TT4 with times on the results sheet Sunday (so no Hoosier payouts).

I went out in the next session looking to run a lower 1:55 lap (a predictive 1:55.8 time popped up earlier) and I started getting greedy with the exit "gators" on T16. I would take it wider and wider out of this last turn before the pit straight to try to gain a tenth, but it wasn't working. I ran a string of 1:56.0 laps then I took T16 exit a bit too wide and clipped the tire wall with the side mirror - BANG! Damn thing popped right off the door mount, hanging from the wires, but did zero damage elsewhere on the car. Whew! I got lucky. I held the dangling mirror in my hand for the next lap of shame and came in...



Amy had seen and heard the whole thing from the bleachers at the exit of T16 - and she was none too pleased that I almost joined the "Wall of Champions" that had claimed other cars this weekend. I clipped the mirror wires, tossed the busted mirror into the trailer, then went right back out to take my nephew for a few laps in the next DE session. After that the car was all Amy's, and she did take another session that day, running her best lap of a 2:01.0 before we called it a day.



By this point we had "found the time we were gonna find" and the ambient temps were climbing, while other TT cars slowed down or dropped out due to mechanical issues. One of the remaining TTC S2000s clipped another bit of armco and busted a wheel bearing. Another TTC S2000 broke their trans. Amy had dropped 10 seconds from her Saturday morning times and I found 2 seconds from my best Friday test time. My brush with the tire wall was enough of a warning to "not push my luck", plus we had an 8+ hour tow home and work the next day.



We stuck around to watch the Blitz race group's last points race for the year, where our customer Jamie wrapped up first place the NASA Texas ST3 Championship - in his rookie year - which was pretty cool. He had "hit a gator" during the first race on Saturday and tore up the front end - but still finished the race. A bunch of us patched it up before the next race, which he went on to win and as well as the points race on Sunday (the car is at our shop now getting fixed up, better and prettier than before).



We watched the Race Hero live timing app on our way back to Dallas and the 3rd and 4th TT sessions on Sunday didn't throw us any curve balls, so we won on Sunday as well. With only 3 in class there were not contingency payouts from Hoosier, but just winning the 2 tires Saturday was a nice change. The Sunday win had half the class out, but it was still another win - which meant we went 10 for 10 TT first place finishes this season (8 in TTD and 2 in TT4).

THE GOOD AND BAD

Overall this was a great race weekend but there were some exceptions. Running with the NASA Texas group for 11 years now I have gotten used to things being done a certain way. Here are some of the things that jumped out at us.

The bad: There were a lot of incidents in various race groups, and some of the extractions took longer than they anticipated, which led to some delays. We had a lot of 20-30 minute delays sitting on grid after a 3 minute warning in TT. So the schedule was hit or miss. There was also some small level of disorganization - probably due the large number of Texas region folks that came to this "dual region" event. All of the W2W racers were jammed into two groups so they complained of traffic, but that's not my group. Long drive down on some fairly crappy roads, but it was all still well worth the trip.



The good: The food at the banquet was excellent, and the clubhouse, track, and facilities were top notch. Everyone from NOLA was friendly and welcoming. There were autocrosses going on both days on parking lots within the facility, and some of the TT folks did some karting Saturday night, too. We had no traffic problems on track in TT this weekend, due to gridding so well Saturday and the car just being faster.



Our 330 was sitting from 3rd to 6th on grid all weekend, which was a nice change. We beat the ST4 track record time but I was 1.2 sec off the TT4 record time, but we did outpace the car and driver that set that record earlier this year. Dysen had run a 1:51.2 in TTB last year but seemed to have slowed down in TT4 trim (just like I think how some of the other "letter class" cars might slow down in "number class" trim). Compared to the TT3 record our TT4 time was too far back, and the TTC record was smashed this weekend, but comparing to C isn't an apples-to-apples comparison. Jamie set the ST3 track record in his last lap of his last race, where he found a bunch of time in the high speed esses (his car has aero).



The 330 definitely picked up a good bit of time with the added aero, which makes me think that next year we might be more competitive - with less weight, more tire and a lot more power. We shall see - I'm excited to to find out!

WHAT'S NEXT?

I've got a track test scheduled at MSR-Cresson for this car in about a week, so we'll see how much time the car picked up at our regular test track from our last set of laps there, again on the 245mm R7 tires. We have a major round of "power upgrades" scheduled for our winter break, and the preliminary 2018 NASA Texas Schedule is posted:
  • January 27-28 Season Opener MSR Houston
  • March 10-11 March Madness MSR Cresson
  • May 4-6 - NASA at COTA!
  • June 9-10 Summer Shootout Hallett
  • September 13-16 - NASA National Championship - COTA!
  • October 27-29 Crossover event at NOLA Motorsports Park
There might be another event or two added in the next month, too. Hopefully we will have completed the TT4 power mods by then, but there's not much of a break before 2018 season starts. We're back at it before you know it!

Until next time,
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