Event 1, 2019 – My BMW E36 is way faster than me now!

The Rocky Mountain SCCA Solo summer series is finally getting underway after a very long break (for me at least). It was time to get my E36 out on the track and see if all these performance improvements were really going to make a difference! I’ve thrown a lot of things at the car over the winter (supercharger, LSD ratio, sway bar, lighter wheels, etc) so I was guessing that this first event was really going to be about understanding how different the car is now from the last time that I’ve raced it. I knew this may be a bit of a learning experience!

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The first event was held at Pikes Peak International Raceway (PPIR) just to the South of Colorado Springs. The autocross course was setup in the giant parking lot adjacent to the actual circle track. The weather was great (high of 65* F) and the surface was dry.

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However, there were fizzures in the surface all over the place. It honestly looked like an earthquake had torn the parking lot into several sections. In the picture above you can see how some were so large that my entire hand would fit inside. I was a bit concerned that if I ran over some of the larger crevaces then it might bend a wheel or take off my front lower valence. It was also going to be pretty rough on my tires…

After walking the course about 6 times, I thought that I’d probably have to shift 3 – 4 times through a run since I now had a shorter rear end ratio (3.91). 2nd gear tops out at about 47 mph now (used to be 60 mph with 3.15 gears). That could potentially trip me up as I’m not super experienced with my new AKG Motorsport shifter yet.

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I decided just to run in the “X” class for now as I still try to decipher my local classing rules. I’m not in it for the trophies, I just want to go fast! The beast was ready to go, so let’s see what happened:

This was a pretty good run and you can see that I was fairly excited to get a 45.438 second time. My very first run (which I forgot to film) was a mid 47 second as I got slightly confused on one section of the course. Let’s see if I could improve my time with my next run!

An improvement! My final run came in at 45.166 seconds which I was a bit dissapointed by as I knew I should be able to get into the low 44’s if I could put it all together. My E36 is definitely faster than I am now and I need to focus on my driving to put together good runs. It has more to give but I really need to concentrate on proper technique, being smooth, and focusing on the transitions.

After the results were posted, I found the following competitor cars and times pretty interesting.

My best time was 37th out of the 97 drivers. Quite a few of the top times were the same car but dual drivers. Also, many of the top times were by dedicated race cars with Hoosier racing slicks (i.e. not street legal vehicles).

The only street legal cars (not on racing slicks) that posted better times than my BMW E36 were:

2002 BMW M3 – 43.261 – MCS suspension, engine work
2018 BMW M3 – 43.753 – Suspension work, engine tune
2004 Mazda Miata – 43.926 – Turbocharged on big tires
2017 Ford Mustang GT – 44.141 – Great driver!
2016 Porsche GT4 – 44.162
2011 BMW M3 – 44.447
1994 Mazda Miata – 44.490
2012 Ford Mustang Boss – 44.577
2008 Chevy Corvette Z51 – 44.855
2019 Mazda Miata – 44.937
2016 Scion FR-S – 45.030
2015 Ford Mustang GT – 45.035
2018 Ford Mustang GT – 45.135

Others cars of interest that came in slower than my time:

2007 Lotus Exige S220 – 45.257 – Hoosiers, bigger turbo
2018 Honda Civic Type-R – 46.052
2016 Porsche Boxster GTS – 46.224
2016 Porsche Cayman – 46.298
1995 BMW M3 (S50) – 46.996 – Ground control suspension, same tires

So, all in all, this was a great first event and it proved to me that my E36 is such a well balanced car that I now need to focus on just driving better. I know the car easily had another second or two to give but I just couldn’t execute in this event! Focus, focus, focus… smooth is fast.

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