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Evolution of a Z3 racer... (archive)

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Posted by Lester on October 23, 2000 at 23:58:52:

In Reply to: Another Reason Against Tracking Your Z... (long) posted by Joel Smernoff on October 23, 2000 at 18:19:42:

There are exceptions to what I'm about to say but for the most part this is the evolution of a Z3 racer.

I'm on good terms with my local BMW dealer. So when they sell a Z3 to someone who talks about racing the car often the dealer will give them my business card. (Not a bad way to meet potential customers for an attorney, don't you think?)


The first contact goes something like, "I want to race my car and take her out onto the Lugna Seca race track." (I live close enough to the Lugna Seca track to hear the races from my back yard.)

I respond and discuss autocross and club track events. I tell them that the BMW club does not allow stock Z3's at track events. When they ask why, I mention the dangers associated with a roll over at track events in a Z3. You know the drill, put a board between your roll hoops and windshield and decide how much of your head that sticks above the board you think you can live without? I also refer them to Tom Bell's web site concerning his roll bar modifications. I tell them if they are interested I'm sure that my friend Tom would help them get onto the racetrack.


The second contact goes something like, "I really do not want to modify my car!"

I provide various web sites relating to autocross. I tell them that you do not have to modify their car for autocross. I tell them about an upcoming autocross event and I invite them to come watch, ride and drive. I advise them I will help them through the walkthrough, get them a helmet and that they can ride with me and I will ride with them if they want.


The third and last contact goes something like, "I'll try to make it and take you up on the offer for the ride."

You guessed it! They usually are a no show.


BMW sells a dream when it sells a Z3. The dream is owing a fine powerful sports car and racing that car around a track with the top down and the wind in your hair.

The reality is that with the top down the car is simply not all that safe on a racetrack.

The reality is that even autocross is work. For example, for each autocross I clean out all the "stuff" from the car. I also change out the street tires for the "R" compound tires. I also install my video camera mount on the roll hoops. (See the stock roll hoops have a use after all!) I drive to the autocross and sign in. I get my car though the technical inspection. I work the course for another run group. My wife and I get in our four one minute runs or four 40 second runs depending on how they designed the course. I drive home and put all the "stuff" back into the car and reinstall the street tires. This usually kills an entire day. You got to love it (or a little nuts) to put this much work into each autocross event.

The racing dream BMW inspires gets killed by reality for most Z3 drivers.

Reality for a few is a quick stop light race against a Honda Civic on Saturday night. This is not a good idea in my opinion because I'm convinced that a race track is much safer place to drive them most public streets.

Any bets that there are less then one in fifty or one in a hundred Z3 owners who ever see a track or autocross event and learn half the potential of the great little roadster they drive?

So, the next time I get a call how do I respond? Do I continue to try to help turn the dream into reality?


PS. My wife and I autocross but we do not do track events in part because I have seen allot of cars totaled at track events. (Two BMW's at Lugna Seca last year alone.) Someday I may buy a Miata for a track car but until them the BMW stays off the race track.

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