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  • Basic track question - be gentle please :)

    Somewhat new to the E30 M3 world and would like to learn about tracking one of these. Not new to all BMW's but am a relative track n00b. Street car on a track is the closest I get. I want to turn the corner so to speak and get more into track time.

    So, where do I start? I have a limited budget (about $15K) for a car, and then a bit more for helmet etc. Should I try to find a car that has been well sorted for track use? How do I find one that I can take out for track time?

    I think I would look for a car that is still a 2.3L, but if all goes well I would go to the 2.5 route eventually. Safety features are a must, a legal and well built rollcage, 5pt harness, and seat are key. My wife insists on these - don't ask and don't mention fires. I don't need to have an interior either, but having the car stay street legal would be important as I don't have the $$$ for a trailer / tow combo!

    I am a n00b so any thoughts are welcome...I did do a search, but was hoping to get some specific info on how delusional i am!



  • #2
    Here's my story....

    About 15 years ago I raced motorcycles and then moved to race karts. Then I got married, had kids, and hung up my helmet for a while. But, I still enjoyed my street cars (Porsche and BMW). Two years ago I bought my first e30 M3 (almost by accident). About six months later, I did my first DE in a car. Having had some prior experience, I moved up fairly quickly in the run groups while still driving my completely stock car.

    I started on 205/50/15 Nitto tires, then I moved to a 225 tire, and then to a stickier tire the Falken Azenis RT-615. With each tire I found the limits and then moved up a notch to the next tire. As I got better with each tire, I moved up in run groups (still in the stock car), and now run in the advanced group.

    In August I did a one day school and had water pump weeping issues and didn't get to run half my sessions. At that time I started to seriously consider a dedicated track car. I ended up buying a full blown e30 M3 race car. Primarily for two reasons. The first was...with the number of incidents that have happened this year, safety was on the forefront. The second was that I have little free time. So, a car that had all the go fast parts already installed was the best way for me to go. But, I was also ready to make the jump.

    My recommendation would be to take whatever you are currently driving to the track and get a feel for what it is all about. You do not need a dedicated track car until you get some track experience. Take your time. Find out if you enjoy it before spending your money. Safety is a concern, but, you will not be really pushing the limits of the car for a while. As you get more experience, you will get faster.

    Just my two cents....

    Damon in STL
    Damon in STL
    '99 e39 540 Sport 6spd (DD), '88 e30 M3 - GTS2 #72 - Motorcraft Ignition, Volvo Injectors, Thrush Turbo Muffler, Open Source ECU, Aerospace Connectors, Lowes' Polycarbonate, Alumacore Front Splitter and Rear Diffuser, Racer's Tape.

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    • #3
      As previously mentionned, a dedicated track car would be great, but not at this stage.

      The e30 M3 is a great car out of the box but requires a few mods to work properly on a track. Stiffer suspension, front camber plates, swaybars and a few more psi in the rear tires than at the front. That's it. Do not even think about R-compounds until you did a couple of track weekends. You will learn more with slippery tires.
      Last edited by LeeVuong; 11-02-2005, 12:09 PM.


      [email protected]

      1969 2002 racecar
      1989 M3 racecar
      e39 Touring

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      • #4
        After thinking about it...my car isn't completely stock. I've got Bilstein Sports on the car.

        I agree with LeeVuong about staying away from the R-compounds for a while. I've learned so much and have had a lot of fun with non-grippy tires. You really get a good feel for a car when it is easy to slide it around. You learn what the car feels like as it loses traction. You also learn what it sounds like....listen to your tires.

        My first time out with the track car was last month at a PCA event. To dumb down the car a bit, I put the Falkens from my street car on it. To me, a well setup e30 M3 is simply amazing as to the amount of grip it has. The car is so easy to drive quickly (even on a street tire). I think you would do yourself a disservice by going with a modified car at this point. The same holds true for a R-compound tire. With my track car on the Falkens, I was able to slide the car at will and could use throttle oversteer to rotate the car. After I was comfortable with the car, I put a set of Toyo RA-1's on the car. Wow! The amount of grip is incredible! The car is now back to a momentum car (no more throttle oversteer):sosad: This was the first time I've run an R-compound tire and the difference is night and day.

        I've got a DE this weekend and I was just telling a friend how I was a little bit bummed about how easy it is to drive my track car quickly. The reason I'm bummed is that the capabilities of the car are so much better than most everything else on the track I most often run on.

        I've done a number of PCA events now and looking back....it was a lot of fun chasing down or pulling away from a 996 turbo while driving a basically stock e30 M3 on ordinary street tires:p (but, it's still cool seeing the 996 squat down with a puff of exhaust and go into light speed down the front straight!)

        Learn to drive on basic equipment....it's a lot of fun!

        Damon in STL
        Damon in STL
        '99 e39 540 Sport 6spd (DD), '88 e30 M3 - GTS2 #72 - Motorcraft Ignition, Volvo Injectors, Thrush Turbo Muffler, Open Source ECU, Aerospace Connectors, Lowes' Polycarbonate, Alumacore Front Splitter and Rear Diffuser, Racer's Tape.

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        • #5
          Excellent insights guys. Sounds like I should be looking for a fairly stock M3 to start out with. Is a car with around 100K going to be a PITA to maintain and use on the track?

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          • #6
            I just bought a car with 128k on the clock and the PO was more concerned with show than with track. It's already got some nice pre-emptive track bits (SAMCO hoses, S52 tensioner) but I plan on putting in the SBI oil pan baffle and having my head reworked before the spring season. It also has Corbeau seats that I don't think are that safe, so I'll be going with one of the FIA certified Cobra seat sets. Throw in the VSR rollbar for good luck, and I'm ready.

            Oh, add some pads, rotors and fluid changes and I'm only out what, $20-$30 total?
            www.ubertechnik.com

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            • #7
              Don't worry about picking up a fully or even partially track sorted M3 - first get a helemt, and do some skidpad schools, autocross schools ( www.autocross.com/evolution ) and some high performance driving schools. Don;t worry about race tires, just get out there and start learning skills.

              As you learn car control skills and continue up to higher levels of skill, you will learn yourslef what you want to change about your car - mostly suspension stuff like turn in, dialing under/opver steer in/out, alignement settings.

              My rule of thumb>
              Driver first.
              Make it stop (brakes)
              Make it turn (suspension)
              Make it go (power goodies)

              Most of all seat time seat time seat time. The more you get out there the more you will see others w/ E30 M3's who have been sorting them - and you can see individaul cars for your self etc.
              sigpic
              2010 BMW Club Racing E30 M3 Touring Car Champion
              2011, 2013 SCCA Runoffs Super Touring Under 3.0L Bronze Medalist
              2011 SCCA Jim Fitzgerald Rookie of the Year
              2012 SCCA Northeast Divisional STU Champion
              2015 SCCA Runoffs STU Polesitter

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by JS154
                Don't worry about picking up a fully or even partially track sorted M3 - first get a helemt, and do some skidpad schools, autocross schools ( www.autocross.com/evolution ) and some high performance driving schools. Don;t worry about race tires, just get out there and start learning skills.

                As you learn car control skills and continue up to higher levels of skill, you will learn yourslef what you want to change about your car - mostly suspension stuff like turn in, dialing under/opver steer in/out, alignement settings.

                My rule of thumb>
                Driver first.
                Make it stop (brakes)
                Make it turn (suspension)
                Make it go (power goodies)

                Most of all seat time seat time seat time. The more you get out there the more you will see others w/ E30 M3's who have been sorting them - and you can see individaul cars for your self etc.
                Couldn't have said it better myself.

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                • #9
                  Re: Basic track question - be gentle please

                  I somewhat disagree with what's been said in this post.

                  Sure, at this stage you don't need a fully sorted track car, and as a novice you should focus on safety and getting seat time.

                  But you are asking for advice on buying an E30 M3, and your intention is to turn it into a semi dedicated track car. In that the case you will be much-much better off buying one that is already sorted. It costs a lot more that you think to turn a stock car into a safe, reliable track car.

                  My advice would be to take the $15k and buy the best prepped track car you can find.

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                  • #10
                    there is one in the FS threads with a recently redone 2.3 and a cage - might be a good start and is only 10,800
                    1990 e30 m3

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                    • #11
                      For the most part, I have to agree with Eric. If you really want an E30 M3, get one. Just make sure it's in good mechanical shape, with recent control arms, rotors, fluids and pads. Get it checked out by a mechanic, then take it to the track. If you want, get a rollbar; you can find nice ones at http://www.vsr1.com .

                      But you will be much better off learning with a softer car that's not 'track prepped' than you will be with one that's 'sorted' for the track. That could be an E30 M3; it might just as well be a 5-year old ford focus with a stick shift.

                      Do 10-15 track days. See how you like it. At that point, you'll probably want to upgrade. That might mean selling the car and buying one that's 'track-prepped.' At that point, you'll have a much better idea of what you want, and you'll know how to use a stiffer suspension, track tires etc.

                      And at that point, Mick's absolutely right. You're much better off buying a track car that's already done.
                      Seattle, WA
                      currently:
                      1988 M3, ex j-stock
                      1984 911, RoW 3.2
                      1990 Peugeot 205 GTI 1.9
                      http://cars.g93.net

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                      • #12
                        This looks like a nice one.
                        http://www.turnermotorsport.com/html...o.asp?ID=34067

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                        • #13
                          If you don't have rear drive experience, then start with a stock suspension as it will be easier to read and more progressive than a sorted track rat.
                          Conversely, you may be the type that learns quickly when thrown in the deep end.
                          As Mick says, you may get bitten really hard by the car/track bug and then regret somewhat(you'll block it mentally) having to spend more dosh on stiffening it up. especially if "'er indoors" is watching with interest:p
                          100%...the E30M3 is the horse to straddle.
                          The driver is the most important bit and is adaptable.

                          I must admit though, that I switched from tracking front drive VWs directly to tracking a 1280Lb rear drive 7 clone with more horsepower so I had to learn quickly.
                          m
                          Last edited by Mmark; 11-13-2005, 07:06 PM.

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