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177 Posts
Discussion Starter · #61 ·
Project Update for April 10, 2017: Its been way too long since my last post, and we have done a good bit of work on the 330 "over the winter break". This work includes building a new custom header and exhaust, a ballast weight mount for the trunk, seat belt added to passenger side, Mishimoto cold air kit, a new aluminum flywheel/clutch/pressure plate, added a fire bottle + quick release mount, then a half cage and harnesses were added.

We also entered the car in two events since the MSR 1.7 test last November 2016: a NASA Time Trial event at MSR-C (1.7 CCW) in early March, then an HPDE event in late March with The Driver's Edge on the 3.1 mile MSR-C course. This update is running too long so I will skip covering these two events for now and just show the fun stuff - the mods!

A lot has been going on in the months since my last post here, which might explain why I'm so behind in updating our many project build threads. We launched our all new website for Vorshlag (which took months of work), started a 2nd business (engine shop called Horsepower Research) and built out that commercial space + website, had a TV shoot in our Vorshlag shop (Fast-n-Loud episode - where Aaron Kaufman built an E36 LS1 monster using our swap kit, MCS dampers, flares, 18x11" wheels and more), we hosted our annual open house / SCCA tech day event, had employees leave and then added new hires, attended track events in some of our other project cars, my daily driver truck was totaled in a wreck (which benched me from racing for a bit), and much more. I'm also been remodeling my house for months (to put on the market to sell), and of course overseeing regular Vorshlag business. I just need to add a few hobbies to fill up the rest of my free time, ha! :D

I will try to cover the latest round of mods to the 330 and then show the next phase planned on our #DailyDrivenTrackCar. We've also got some cool parts inbound or already here for the next round of stuff - carbon hood, proper flares, and a giant rear wing!


Finally... after a year of racing a bone stock powered M54, its TIME FOR MORE HORSEPOWER! Like I tell so many new HPDE drivers, autocrossers, customers and friends: you have to tackle a lot of other things on your track car build before you go looking for horsepower. Most people want to do hp mods FIRST, but it should really towards the BOTTOM of your mod list.

And after we had spent the time and money to upgrade the suspension, wheels and tires, then the necessary oil pump reliability and balancer mods... THEN it was time to install some go-fast parts. Since we use MyShopAssist for all of our shop tasks - even shop owned cars like this one - I can account for every second of work it takes. I'm going to try to show the hours for the various upgrades on this 330 this time, so you can get an idea of what to expect if you pay a shop or how long to budget for yourself to do this type of work on a similar car.

Cold Air + Elbow Kit = 1.42 hours

First up was a cold air kit from Mishimoto. The released one last year specifically made for the E46 330.

Mishimoto sent us one of their first production units, which we test fit on our car last year in order to send them feedback.

The silicone tubing bits before the MAF sensor are one kit (elbow kit, above right) and the post MAF angled tubing, air filter and airbox are the second kit (cold air kit, above left). We listed these under the "engine performance" sub-heading for the E46 chassis.

Brad put this kit onto our 330 in place of the OEM air box and inlet tube, and elbow from the throttle body to MAF. We didn't do an "after" dyno test or any dyno tuning with this Cold Air mod alone, but you could hear the engine a bit more and the sealed airbox fit the car nicely. Maybe a 5-10 hp bump using my super accurate ButtDyno. :p

DISA Valve Repair = 2.45 hours

While the guys were adding all of the Mishimoto intake hose bits I had them rebuild the DISA valve for reliability.

We don't sell this kit but I have linked to videos and websites that do. We did this upgrade based on input from local shop owner Andy from Clownshoe Motorsports, who said he has seen DISA failures on E46s that caused parts to go into the engine. Good advice.

The DISA valve is a BMW gadget that is mounted to the plenum of the intake manifold on the M52, M52TU, and M54 engines. This valve changes the length of the intake runners to help improve low end torque at low revs (by diverting the intake flow path to longer runner lengths) and higher RPM power (shorter runner lengths). This is a somewhat slick system but this video shows how they fail.

We bought the DISA upgrade/repair kit from German Auto Solutions. This kit replaces a bunch of plastic parts (that get brittle and fail over time) with CNC machined aluminum and titanium parts. You should also order new O-rings for the valve when you do this upgrade. This DISA upgrade helps prevent leaks, sticking or fluttering valves, and worse - prevents damaged parts from coming loose and being ingested - which will destroy your engine!

Some might wonder why you don't "just get a new one", but the OEM and aftermarket DISA valves are all still made with the same "low cost plastic" parts, and they will eventually fail. Not to mention a new DISA valve is expensive; this DISA upgrade kit is under $80 but is better than the new $400 replacement units.

The DISA unit in our car was pretty sloppy and needed the rebuild - so we avoided some issues by doing this. The new bushings included in the kit we got were VERY tight to the shaft, however, so they had to be "massaged" a bit and it took nearly 2.5 hours to do this repair. I suspect it would be less than an hour most times, if the parts had worked together more smoothly.

Custom Full Length Header Fabrication = 25.86 hours

I have long said that the OEM exhaust manifold for the M54 engine is one of THE worst designs ever put into a modern automobile. The primary tubes from each port are no more then 5" long, they all turn into a log manifold, which then dumps into a catalytic convertor.

The popular solution (outside of SpecE46, which mandates an OEM E36 M50 manifold) is to use these cheap eBay knockoff headers which run from $100-200. I've also said for a long time that "you get what you pay for".

We went that route on our blue E46 TTD 330 back in 2010 and the results (with a custom tune and a cold air intake) made a dismal 211 whp nd 205 wtq. Advice: DON'T BE FOOLED BY SHINY, SPARKLY PARTS FROM CHINA!

You can see how different the lengths of the primary tubes are in these cheap headers above. We wanted to make a better designed and more equal length long tube header for the M54. I have been wanting to make this for years and finally have the team in place to be able to do it.

With the before/after chassis dyno testing on the stock M54 engines, my earlier blue 330Ci with the eBay header + custom exhaust, and this red 330Ci with this custom header + exhaust (stock tune), I can already see that this design has been a fundamental success - and we haven't even done any EFI tuning on the red car yet. Let's take a look at the construction of this header.

Our head fabricator Ryan built this tri-Y header design using primary lengths, diameters, collector sizes and collector placements that we came up with as a team. I worked with Ryan, our fabricator, and with Jason, our engineer, to come up with this design. Numbers were calculated using some common header design formulas as well as our collective experiences.

The primaries are 1.625" diameter, the collectors are 2.500" dia and the final merged exhaust pipe is 3.000" dia. We started with mandrel bent 304 stainless steel tubing. The header flange and merge collectors were built to order. Lastly we added O2 bungs for the primary oxygen sensors (but left the secondary sensors and cats off - for now).

The 304 stainless steel flange was CNC machined for the stock M54 head port shape with 1.625" diameter ports. These are made for a round 1-5/8" dia tube that you have to "oval-ize", which Ryan did using the custom made fixture shown above right. This includes both a mandrel and set of dies he machined here. A section of round tubing is worked into the dies and opened up with the mandrel.

After the flanges were completed with their short oval-ized tubing sections he began the primary header design using the ICE engine works plastic layout kit (you can see the orange bits above) to get the primary tubes routed and the lengths "as close to equal as makes sense" as they worked their way back to the two 3-into-1 merge 2.5" dia collectors.

These made to order 3-into-1 merge collectors were massively delayed - 5 weeks late - and this delay kept us from making the January NASA race at MSR-Houston. These were well made but they blew their ETA by a lot. I wasn't going to do another NASA TT race with stock power again.

When the primary tubes were cut, fitted, and tack welded the two 3-tube header assemblies they were removed from the car and final TIG welded on the bench. This involved Argon back purging each tube as they were final TIG welded. The 3-to-1 merge collectors are a slip-fit into the primary tubes but each tube is secured with a pair of flanges and bolts to allow them to be removed and tightened (not shown).

Getting 6 long header tubes packed together on one side of the engine makes it all look a bit busy, but overall I'm very happy with the fit in the car and with the overall shape and lengths. From here we needed to make a new exhaust system that matched the flow of the full length header. Doing a custom header like this is VERY time consuming, and the fact that it only took 26 hours (including about 1.8 hours getting some stubborn exhaust studs/nuts removed) to build shows how having good tools and equipment saves time. We didn't cut any corners, no sloppy welds or hammer fitting things in place.

Exhaust Fabrication = 19.78 hours

With the higher flowing header we need a higher flowing exhaust system behind it. Another time consuming but necessary job to make the after-header system match the capabilities of the new custom header. We went for a quiet, high flowing system using a layout we have used on BMWs in the past. Normally I'd quote closer to 15 hours for this job, but in this case there were some aspects of the custom header and how that mated to the collectors that added some time.

Previous custom exhausts we have built on multiple E46 M3s with the more powerful S54 3.2L engine were built here using 2.75" or 2.5" collectors merged into a 3.5" main exhaust pipe and muffler (see above). We've seen the dyno results of these S54 builds and those results + our calculations and experience drove us to a 2.5" collectors and a 3.0" main exhaust system on this 3.0L M54.

The OEM E46 330 exhaust bits are heavy and restrictive. They do a good job and make the exhaust note almost silent, even with the vacuum controlled flapper in the exhaust (which does almost nothing). After 17 years of use the system looked nearly new - so it was definitely robust.

We weighed the stock bits back in 2010 and we cut out 50% of this weight with the eBay headers and the system I built back then. Problem was it was loud and I didn't want a lot of exhaust noise this time around. We have had good results with a few Magnaflow models in the past few years which we have done before-after exhaust sound tests with and had incredible results - with both power and sound attenuation.

The case uses a 5"x11" oval shape with a massive 22" case length. On the S54 powered M3s we use the unit above with the 3.5" tube (it also comes in 4.0") but for our little M54 powered 330 we went with the 3.0" tubed version. I know this muffler can cut sound and still make power - but it comes with a higher weight. Since we are already having to add ballast (see below) and its all going to the back, this muffler is as good of a place as any for ballast.

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177 Posts
Discussion Starter · #62 ·
continued from above

The Magnaflow stainless muffler is bigger than the OEM unit but still fits in the stock location on the driver's side rear. That was hung first and then the 3" tubing and bends were routed forward. Ryan also added a 3" V-band connection just forward of the rear axle.

The 2.5" dia tubing sections after of the collectors were run back to about the middle of the car. Here they were merged into a 2-to-1 merge that brought the exhaust up to a single 3" tube. This was routed back to the muffler section aiming for the V-band connector.

The exhaust tucks up into the tunnel nicely with no loss of ground clearance - even going to much larger tubing diameters. We went for a turn-down aft of the bumper, which I show below in the "sound test" video.

PDR Repairs

Donnie's brother Kris stopped by on a rainy day and performed PDR on the 330 in our shop. He spent a few hours and removed about a dozen little hail dings on the trunk, roof, and hood.

It was a little thing but it made the car look a bit better. We've got a lot more work to do in "looks" department for this car, and with a new carbon hood and new fender flares being added soon I have already scheduled time at our painter's shop during the summer break.

Clutch & Flywheel Upgrade - 4.57 hours

If you read my October 2016 TWS race write-up you might remember we noticed some clutch slippage in 5th gear. We put off the replacement until we had time to research a better option and then snatch the transmission out of the car to do the repairs. We ran the November test in 4th gear at MSR, but 5th was pretty much useless - and it wasn't going to get any better. With a TWS event scheduled for April we had to tackle this, so back in January we made time to replace the clutch. But what should we use?

Details and pictures from our blue 2001 330Ci raced 2009-11

Some of you remember my blue 2001 330Ci which we raced 2009-2011 (which has its own build thread) with much less racing success compared to what this red 330 has had already. We built it for SCCA DSP class but raced it a couple of times in NASA TTD, where it still runs today with it's new owner. Right as we added the eBay header + custom exhaust on that car we upgraded the clutch and flywheel to a mish-mash of Sachs OEM clutch parts (made for some other BMW) along with a Fidanza single mass aluminum flywheel, shown above.

Details and pictures from our blue 2001 330Ci raced 2009-11

The factory M54's clutch and pressure plate (worn) weighed in at 13.6 and the OEM dual mass flywheel weighed 24.8 pounds. The Sachs clutch parts weighed a tick more than stock, but the aluminum flywheel we used then helped that setup drop 12.8 pounds. The Sachs/Fidanza setup worked well and had an OEM like engagement feel - because it was some OEM Sachs clutch and pressure plate. Still, losing flywheel mass is always appreciated and this setup worked for many years without issue. The current owner of this 330 tracks the car 2 times a month and had a clutch failure back in 2016, so he got a good 6+ years of abuse out of the Sachs bits.

New hotness! ClutchMasters FX350 kit we have installed on our red 330Ci

Its 2017 and I wanted to find something better than OEM Sachs parts this time. Some other BMW racers had talked me to ClutchMasters products and we have used a number of their clutch and flywheel kits recently with excellent success. Since this E46 was built for us to test new products with before we would consider selling them, I figured I would try the 330 option they make. We picked up this FX350 clutch kit with the optional single-mass aluminum flywheel.

Left: The red car's clutch/pp/flywheel weighs 39.5. Right: FX350 system weighs 26.2

We re-weighed the stock bits and it came in at 39.5 pounds. We replaced the worn OEM flywheel and clutch/pressure plate parts and replaced them with this 26.2 pound FX350 flywheel and clutch kit, for a loss of 13.3 pounds. And while that's only a fraction of a pound more weight savings than the Sachs/Fidanza setup we used 8 years ago, this FX350 kit is a full clutch/flywheel system engineered together, not some assortment of OEM bits and a flywheel that happened to work with that. This FX350 clutch has more clamping force but not a tremendously firmer clutch pedal effort.

Donnie did the install of this kit. First he started by removing the exhaust covers, driveshaft, trans, and shifter. The clutch and PP were removed, then the stock flywheel. Which looked like crap! You cannot resurface dual mass flywheels so this was scrapped - which we had planned to do anyway. The pilot bearing was checked and it felt loose, so that was pushed out of the crank and replaced.

The rear main seal had a small leak so the rear engine cover was removed and resealed, along with adding a new one-piece rear main seal. I hate fluid leaks on my cars! If I see a drop of anything leaking it really spins me up. This is why I try to keep my engines spotlessly clean on all of my personal vehicles - to spot any leaks.

The ClutchMasters flywheel went in next, with cleaned bolts applied with and Blue LocTite. The clutch and pressure plate went in with an alignment tool and torqued to spec as well. The clutch slave cylinder and engagement arm both looked a bit janky so they were replaced. RBF600 Motul fluid was flushed through the clutch hydraulics, so everything is new in the clutch system.

I've shown the "rebuilt" shifter we did on this car, which just uses a shorter Z3 shift handle and some new bushings. It shifts "well enough" but I am avoiding the typical aftermarket BMW shifters that I have used on previous builds. Instead I've got my eye on something better, like the CAE shifter. We'll see if that is in the budget, but until then I'm sticking with the upgraded OEM shifter.

Test Drive: Exhaust + Clutch Sound

A 3" turn-down was added to the rear of the exhaust to divert sound away - its not made to be JDM-YO! cool looking, but instead serves a purpose. Keeps sound levels low.

I took the car for a test drive after the header, exhaust, cold air and clutch upgrades were complete. Very happy with the clutch engagement and added power I could feel.

The exhaust note was also pleasantly quiet. You could "hear" the engine but it wasn't LOUD AS HELL like some race systems are. Much quieter than say... a SpecE46 or a SpecMiata. The video above was me driving around the paddock at MSR in March, trying to show the sounds of the clutch (minimal noise added) and exhaust (ditto). You will see in the track videos what it sounds like at full tilt, but for now this is what its "street sound" is like. Mild, throaty, and very reasonable. That's not by accident.


I thought about not posting dyno charts until after we have had a chance to get the computer custom tuned, but EVEN WITHOUT tuning this is still good data to share.

Let's start with the STOCK dyno test on our red 2001 330Ci as well as the FINAL dyno test on our blue 2001 330Ci with the eBay header, exhaust, cold air and a custom tune.

Left: Red 330 stock dyno test in 2016. Right: Blue 330 dyno test with headers/exhaust/CAI/tune in 2010

Now some have said that our red 330's stock chassis dyno power number (195 whp) looks a little low, which is probably due to the fact that it had 164K miles when we tested it last year in stock form. The Blue 330Ci's dyno was with a "custom" e-tune, header, exhaust and cold air - where it made 211 whp/205 wtq.

Yes, there are some SpecE46 cars making more power than that, I know. Those use the M50/52 OEM header + a $600 tune from EPIC + a race exhaust, and it isn't a bad setup. The common SpecE46 cars tend to make 205-225 whp with the full suite of "spec" components, and the higher numbers on that scale tend to be on freshly rebuilt motors, not 164K mile used engines.

This is the UNTUNED dyno chart for our red E46 330Ci after the header/exhaust/CAI: 216 whp/220 wtq. A solid +5 whp and +15 wtq more than our blue car, with similar parts and tuned. Did I want to see more than that? Sure, but its still on the factory tune with the stock computer. I assure you we will have this tuned and re-dyno'd before my next big thread update, where I hope to see +10 or more whp added. Surprisingly it drives fine like this, just has a bunch of "check engine lights".

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177 Posts
Discussion Starter · #63 ·
continued from above


There were a number of small repairs and upgrades that happened either right before or just after the March NASA event but before the TDE track weekend we went to, which I will cover below.

Ballast Weight Box (2 hours) + Corner Balance (1.5 hours)

In our last NASA race of 2016 we ran TWS at 3115 lbs declared race weight. We could do that because we had so many unused "mod points" to burn, and our power was well below the class P-to-W limit (244 whp) for the 3285 "base weight" this car is assigned. We used up all 12 mod points to be able to legally run 160 pounds under weight, with driver. In January 2017 after adding the header/exhaust (+5 points) and cold air (+1), and while we had increased power by a bit, we lost 6 of those "weight loss" points, so we have to add some weight back to be legal (80 pounds worth).

After the header + CAI we still had 6 unused points for TTD, so we shot for a 3205 pound race weight (80 pounds under, plus a 15 pound buffer shown above at 3220) for the March '17 NASA event at MSR. To get there we had to add 80 pounds of ballast from before (20 in bracket/bolts + 60 in weight plates).

We have built ballast weight brackets before on many cars but last year I came up with an idea to utilize a bench press bar and associated weight plates to make for an easier "quick change" ballast system. This idea was first tested on Jamie Beck's ST3 classed Mustang, where he has to add ballast to stay within that class' power-to-weight limit. On that car we added two "stacks" of weights with the ability to fit 250 pounds of ballast in the back quickly.

Like the race prepped Mustang, our TTD prepped E46 is getting lighter in the rear faster than the front. When we had to add this 80 pounds of ballast we built a similar rear trunk mounted ballast rack - bolted inside the spare tire well. Ryan fabricated this structure using thick walled 1"x2" rectangular tubing, generous mounting flanges, and large bolts to the chassis with reinforced nut heads.

This time we used only a single square threaded bench press bar post (passing thru and welded to the tubing on both sides) and a single stack of weights. Plates of weight can be added to reach our final race weight goals quickly, and removed for test days and HPDE events to reduce consumable wear. With two locking collars secured to each other on the threaded post, the weights stay tight all weekend. This system passed NASA tech on two cars on multiple occasions, so we're going to keep using it.

Once we had the weight bracket built, the weights added to hit our 3205 goal (3220 with buffer) and half a tank of fuel (the minimum we can run without fuel starving) the guys corner balanced the car with me in the driver's seat to get our diagonal weights at 50/50. The 52.4% front weight bias is shown in the picture above, which was an improvement of 2 points from before (before ballast). With some fluid changes we were now ready to race with NASA in March!

Replace Control Arm = 0.79 hours

During the March NASA event I may have been a little overzealous with some of the curbing on a few laps, which can bite you there. I was trying to reset the TTD track record by enough that it would "stick" for a while (and did - by nearly 4 seconds) so I was using all of the paved curbing on track out (gator teeth style) and even some of the FIA inner curbing (much of which is REALLY tall here). I was also forced off track at the highest speed corner that weekend by driver with a minor lack of situational awareness.

Those two circumstances (high speed off + some curbing) may have led to to a prematurely worn control arm ball joint up front. I started hearing some knocking noises and checked it track side that weekend, but it wasn't bad enough to warrant repair there.

After this March MSR event - like after every track event - I had our crew perform a thorough pre-track inspection. Ryan found some play in the inner mounting ball joint of the LF control arm. I had ordered a less expensive set of Febi/Bilstein control arms when we replaced the original stock arms a year ago, and once again I learned "you get what you pay for". A more costly stock replacement Lemforder arm was installed this time, which is a brand we have had better results with.

Passenger Seat Belt Added = 1.76 hours

When we ran the 330 at TWS last year we wanted to run as light as possible, so only one racing seat was installed. We had made brackets for the passenger seat and installed it briefly, but it was left out to conserve weight for that event (running 3115 pounds). After that event it was installed but in in the rush to prep the car for the November test we forgot to add the lower seat belt buckle. We had since thrown the ratty old stock seat and never thought to save the seat belt parts (which are attached to the bottom of the stock seat).

I never noticed that because after we had the 2nd race seat installed I hadn't taken a passenger with me - just doing MSR testing by myself. It wasn't until I tried to take my student at the March '17 NASA event for a ride, and he tried to buckle in, that it was noticed it wasn't there - Doh! So after this event we looked high and low in the shop for a stock E46 lower seat belt buckle, to no avail. A new one was ordered from BMW ($120!) and I had our new fab guy Aaron install it. Which is harder than it might sound.

Running a 3-point OEM belt with racing seats might seem crazy, but for street use it is actually much safer to use retractable OEM belts rather than cinched down 5-7 point racing harnesses. So we will always add the OEM lower buckle from a BMW seat to the chassis bracket or side brackets when we do a racing seat install in a DUAL PURPOSE car like this. Our "Daily Driven Track Car" is the definition of dual purpose.

This was one of Aaron's first fab jobs on one of our shop cars, so I had him remove the driver's side seat to copy the threaded bung Olof had machined and welded to the driver's side OMP steel side bracket a year before. Aaron machined the matching steel bung on the lathe, tapped it for a big M10 bolt, then welded it to the passenger side steel bracket.

This worked perfectly (correct height and placement) and the upper OEM seat belts now have something to buckle into on the passenger side. The task gobbled up more time than I would charge a customer, but I guess if we had done this when both seats at the same time initially this might have only added about 45 minutes of work or less.

While using OEM 3-point belts on racing seats is far from ideal for the actual track use portion of this dual purpose car, it does work and passes tech (when the belts are routed through the racing seats correctly). There was just nothing to mount the shoulder harnesses to - up until last week. We had been talking about adding a 4-point roll bar or 6-point roll cage for some time, and have finally have done that (I will show more details next time). But long story short: now we can add real 6-point harnesses to both seats for track use, and keep the 3-point OEM belts in place for street use. The things you have to do on a dual purpose car...

Fire Bottle & Quick Release added = 1.72 hours

Speaking of good safety ideas, adding a small fire extinguisher is always a good idea to a track car. We always like to add a 2.5 pound Halon-type fire bottle within easy reach of the driver. These work well to put out small fires - like a grass fire, if you drive off track and have to stop (mechanical), or small electrical fires. Full blown engine fires might need a 10+ pound fire bottle from a corner worker, but little flame ups can be squashed with these smaller 2.5 pound bottles.

A multi-nozzle Aqueous Foam fire suppression system coupled with a small fire extinguisher is a great combo in a race car.

Often we will add this little 2.5 pound fire bottle and quick release mount to a race car that also has a full fire system. Why discharge your (required) fire system and fill the car with foam for something that a small Halon style bottle could extinguish?

We like to use a Drake billet aluminum quick-release mount, which is an approved fire bottle mount that allows for "quick release" from the chassis. This can mount to a roll bar or flat surface. In this case we put it just under the front edge of the passenger seat, which is easy to reach to from either side, yet out of the way of passenger's legs. Then we mount a 2.5 pound Halon-substitute fire bottle to that Drake mount. Pull the red pin, slides right out, and then you can head to the flames.

On a race car this is easier, as we don't have 2" inch thick padded carpet in the way and we can just bolt the Drake mount to the floor or trans tunnel. But on this BMW I had Aaron make a pair of spacers to bring the mount above the thick OEM carpet. These were made with some custom machined aluminum hex bar, which is threaded at both ends. The lower side bolts to the floor from underneath and passed through small holes in the carpet and foam padding. The upper holes are threaded for the countersunk stainless bolts we use with the Drake mount. Keeps the mount rigid and above the carpet. This is yet another added wrinkle necessary with a dual purpose car vs a race car (which takes 15 minutes to mount to the bare floor).


If you watched my "exhaust sound" video above you will notice some serious tire rubbing in the rear when going up inclines. In my track videos you will have heard the tires rubbing on some bumps or curbing, too. The 17x10" wheels we're using just have too much width and offset to work with the stock E46 rear fenders and the wide-ish 245mm Hoosiers. The front tires are touching the fenders as well - which is not good.

I have got to do something about adding tire clearance to all four corners, and we've run out of room on the fenders with heavy hammer massaging. It looks terrible with what I've done already, but the tires and fenders are still "touching inappropriately". #SafeSpace I didn't want to go through the trouble + bodywork expense of the modified front/grafted on rear OEM E46 M3 fenders on this car like I did on the blue 330. The E46 M3 front fenders we used before have nearly doubled in price from the dealer, at almost $600 per fender (that's $2400 + fab work + bodywork + paint). There has got to be a more cost effective way to flare this car for these wheels/tires.

I searched the forums and that led me to these fleaBay bolt-on "generic" fender flares, which some said they had good results with (but I couldn't find any installed pics). For less than $120 shipped from "Latviaistan" I figured, "how bad could they be?"

Answer: VERY BAD. These flares don't fit these BMWs at all, as the wheel arch on the flare is much smaller then what the E46 needs. The overall shape is also way off, and would take hours of cutting and notching to make them "fit" around the contours of the fenders. They will also never look good. So I bit the bullet and just ordered HARD Motorsport E46 bolt-on flares, which should be here next week. We will post up the pics of that install next time, which will involve cutting and fab work to clear the tire, but the flares themselves should more or less "bolt on".


Like I said at the beginning, there have been two track weekends in March 2017 that I need to get pictures and video together for to chronicle here. Just showing work done on mods in this update.

At the March NASA event we beat the old 1.7 CCW TTD track record to bits, which I will show next time with video in my event write-up. Very happy with the results (1:23s), but with "6 more points of mods" in TTD and more power (from a proper tune) we could go even faster (1:21s is where the record needs to be).

The long overdue addition of a custom half cage (welded in 4 point roll bar) was completed last week, which I will show next time. The Schroth harnesses are here and those will go in once the roll bar structure is painted. We should see the correct fender flares soon as well, so we can hopefully show that install in a future update. We have another NASA event at TWS in a couple of weeks that we will be hunting for the TTD track record at, as well as a NASA event COTA in May. Then Hallett in June, then the summer break where we will get some paint work done to this car.

There is also an "extra" AJ Hartman carbon fiber hood (9.5 pounds!) that we ended up with last month from another project, which will go onto our red 330 soon. Hopefully before TWS, but the schedule is pretty jammed up so I don't know if we will get it installed in time. Getting more weight off the front axle and onto the rear axle (as we add ballast) is a continuing goal, and this lightweight hood should improve that further. We're at 52.4% front weight bias now, improved from 54% before, so we're heading in the right direction.

Until next time,

177 Posts
Discussion Starter · #64 ·
Project Update for May 11th, 2017: We've done four track events since my last update in here, including one HPDE event, two NASA race weekends where we were chasing TTD track records, and an SCCA Club Trials event - I cover the first 3 in this update. The added power of the CAI + header + exhaust were much appreciated, and you can read about that below. The E46 is getting faster on track, but the "streetable" aspects are starting to diminish, too. That is not shocking news - as a car gets racier, it gets less streetable.

With proper roll bar and harnesses I could do some right seat coaching with Amy at TWS

We still haven't had the engine tuned yet (after the custom header/exhaust/CAI), but we have the hardware and software on hand and are working towards that goal. We did tackle the long overdue safety upgrades by building a custom 4-point roll bar / welded half cage. Then Schroth harnesses were added, finally. As I write this the HARD Motorsport flares are being added - will show some of that also.


Last time I teased a picture of carbon fiber hood built by AJ Hartman that we weighed at 9.5 pounds. We have an extra one we got that will go on this 330 soon, but not in this update. The hood was originally ordered for this E46 M3 shown below.

This is a customer build we are doing with an E46 M3 chassis, big nasty V8, major aero mods, massive tires, and lots of other go-fast tweaks. You can read more about this in that car's forum build thread here.

NASA at MSR-C, MARCH 11-12, 2017

Running our red TTD prepped 330 at MSR-Cresson, once again chasing a track record in March 2017 was a weird case of deva vu. In 2016 we were chasing the TTD record in our red 330 with stock power, overweight, on dead 245mm Hoosiers. But even way back in 2010 we set the (soft) TTD record with our blue 330, also on the wrong tire and with stock power. Here's a quote from that old forum build thread for the blue car:

3/24/2010: I set the TTD track record at MSR-C with a dismal 1:29.8 last weekend. ... I'm not proud of that as a "lap record", being that its slower than the TTE record, but it was a good shake-down run on the wrong tires with a slug of a motor. We'll go back and run MSR-C soon with more tire (Hoosier 285s), more power (header + exhaust + VANOS repaired), and see if I can get into the 1:25-ish range. That's what I think the car is capable of at MSR in TTD trim. Won't be able to work on the lap record until 2011, though... and by then it might be in TTC. Oh well.

Left: Blue E46's 2010 TTD record setting setup on 265mm Yokohamas. Right: Same car on 285 Hoosiers was MUCH faster

Not one week after that 2010 NASA event I had flared the blue car to fit the (then TTD legal) 285mm Hoosier R6 tire, using M3 front fenders and hammered rear fenders. Shortly after we added the CAI, eBay header, and a custom race exhaust. We should have gone back to reset the TTD record in 2011, but by then we had suffered a "number of engine failures" that soured me on the M54 engine and I sold that E46 330. Since then the NASA rules have changed and the E46 330 has both gained weight and lost 7 class points in the base classing, plus the tire rules changed, which makes the old setup on the blue 330 impossible to do in TTD today. Shame, as I really liked the 285s on that car - wider tires really woke it up!

Our old blue E46 330 is still running on track in 2017 - and it is still quick

The guy we sold the blue 330 to is still running it 2+ times a month on track, now on 275mm Conti slicks. He's working on getting his TT license and in the pictures above (April @ TWS) he was doing lead-follows with Amy in our 330, with them both running in HPDE4.

Event photo gallery: https://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-Events/NASA-MSR-C-031117/

So back to the MSR race weekend: unlike last year's March MSR-C event with NASA, where I could run no quicker than a 1:27.604 on a dying set of Hoosiers, this time the 330 had a fresher set of Hoosier R7s (3 events on them instead of 7!) - and fresh tires can make all the difference in the world. We also had more horsepower (+21 whp), less weight, real MCS coilovers, Whiteline swaybars, and a year's worth of testing to put us closer to our goal of resetting the TTD track record. The old record coming into this 2017 NASA race weekend was a 1:27.5, but like I said in 2010, I felt like it should have always been closer to a 1:25.0. I have been continuously mystified as to why the TTD record was so "soft" here at MSR for the past 7 years.

We got to Cresson late afternoon on Friday to unhook the trailer, but I was REALLY sick with bad allergies. Violently sneezing, coughing, stopped up, blurry eyes - I had never had an allergy attack this bad. The weather was also wet, unseasonably cold, and with with high winds all weekend. I ended up being sick all weekend, plus was still really sore from the truck wreck I had weeks earlier, which all kept me from driving at 100%. I was also instructing and working with 4 different students, giving three check rides, so super busy that weekend. Friday night I barely slept 2 hours, which put me in worse shape the next morning. All in all this was not one of my best weekends of driving, but it still went pretty well.


Since it had rained a bit the night before, it was cold and windy Saturday morning. So I went out in the BMW in the "TT Warm-up" session on a green track. I was buried in traffic and only ran a 1:25.5 lap, about a half second slower than my November test (1:25.0, see lap video links below). A TTC classed M3 in front of me the entire session was spraying my car with SHEETS of fuel (he had a busted fuel filler cap) so I came in after getting a good enough time for gridding in the next session. Still running the Sparco EVO II seats with OEM seat belts, which meant I had to brace my upper body, so my injured back was killing me.

Left: Lots of S2000s ahead and behind me on grid. Right: Jamie's Mustang doing well in ST3

In the first official TT session an hour later I busted off a 1:24.085, smashing the old TTD track record by 3.4 seconds. The R7 tires were showing their age and taking 4+ laps to come up to temp before they had real grip. After a lot of sliding around they were working better and giving some decent lateral g numbers, but in laps 1-3 they weren't performing.

I went out in the third session (TT session 2) and ran a similar 1:24.154 to back up that time, but the weather and traffic in the middle of the LARGE field of TT drivers wasn't favorable.

I ended the day then, skipping the last session, hoping for some traffic free laps in the "golden" first session of Sunday morning. Picked up a trophy for the day but also the 2016 Regional TTD championship trophy at the NASA banquet that night. I was feeling pretty terrible and was just dying to get some sleep at the hotel.


The day again started off with lousy weather - overcast, windy, and cold with ambient temps of 43°F and wind chill in the 30's. I skipped the 1st session but there were some fast times, and I regretted not going out. I was still gridded fairly well for session 2 and I told myself that if I had times in the 1:23 range, I'd put the car on the trailer and call it a day. We had already smashed the record, and not having a single TTD competitor that weekend made running every session somewhat pointless. I also wanted to save the remaining tire life on this set for another event coming up (HPDE).

This video shows the new TTD record lap on Sunday

In session 2 after several laps of getting the tires up to temp I finally ran a 1:23.789 lap, beating the old track record by almost 3.7 seconds and even beat the record I set the day before by a few tenths. You can see from this list of videos/lap times I have run at MSRC how far we've come in this 330:
I guess we reset the track record closer to what it should be, but with no other TTD competitors we once again didn't have a chance to win any tires - and we would need a fresh set before NASA @ TWS in April. We still don't have a max prepped TTD car, and with better conditions (and better driving) a full tilt TTD car might inch closer to the 1:22 or even 1:21 range. TTC record was reset by an S2000 by a LOT this same weekend, down to a 1:18.691 (from a 1:21 previous record), which was an eye opener. That was the second quickest TT time of the weekend, behind a 1:17.444 time from a TT3 M3. I have the end of day results posted here as well as in the photo gallery.

Time Trial Results for both days (each day is a different points event)

Pros and Cons: Tire rub - all weekend I could feel the tires hitting the edges of the fenders in one corner. Oddly enough the left side tires had contact on this predominantly left hand turn course. It was from a series of bumps on the driving line at the entry of Buzzard Neck (T4) which were causing the suspension to compress on the left side enough to touch. I kept an eye on this all weekend, but its been doing it ever since we installed these 17x10" wheels. I thought I had re-rolled the front and rear enough times to clear but apparently it needs more. Drastic measures required.

On the plus side the extra power from the header/exhaust/CAI was apparent - and now all I can think is, "I want some more!". The exhaust sound was also pretty tame, which was what we were going for. The video below shows the exhaust sound at normal sub 2500 rpm levels. The new ClutchMasters flywheel and clutch worked great.

This video shows a short exhaust sound test driving around MSR Cresson

With class wins both days we had scored 200 more points towards the regional TTD championship, and we were glad to get out of this crazy weather - we hung out inside the trailer during down time the rest of the day, and had the car loaded in the trailer before lunch. I stuck around until the last HPDE run group to instruct then we hit the road. The driving wind and cold just took everything out of us both, Amy never even drove a single lap (she wasn't feeling it, I dunno), and I was sick as a dog all weekend. Glad to put this event in the rear view... but we still celebrated our New First Tack Record in the TTD car.

TDE at MSR-C 3.1 MARCH 25-26, 2017

Amy signed us up to The Driver's Edge HPDE event on March 25-26, 2017, two weeks after the NASA event and at the same facility. She was more excited about running this HPDE event on the 3.1 configuration of the same track for some reason than she was at the previous NASA weekend. She really likes the little 1.3 mile course - which has lots of elevation change - and when joined with the 1.7 course becomes the 3.1.

Lots of Vorshlag customers go to these HPDE events so we were there for support and to see friends. She ran in the yellow group on the 3.1 mile course on Saturday and had a lot of fun in all 4 sessions. Since I wasn't an instructor for this group I couldn't do any right seat coaching, which would have likely helped her find more time - but she was quick for the yellow group.

We split the 2 day entry so I hopped in the 330 and ran it all day Sunday in the red group. Lots of corners, hard to remember, but its a fun track. We didn't take any in-car video since we were just out having fun.

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177 Posts
Discussion Starter · #65 ·
continued from above

I had a "evaluation ride" by one of the Instructors that runs with TDE a lot on Sunday to see if I "have what it takes" to run in the red group and possibly be an instructor with this HPDE organization. He had read the build thread for this car so he was excited to ride along - even if we didn't have harnesses in the car yet (they were installed shortly after).

I hadn't run the 3.1 mile configuration at MSR-Cresson since 2013 so I was a bit rusty, but managed to run some quick-ish times (2:33.593) in two of my three sessions. The weather was beautiful and we had fun - but the lack of competitive element always leaves me... wanting. Amy had a blast and finally drove the 330 for an entire day. She got more comfortable in this car than ever before, and really liked the brakes, handling and grip. By my last session Sunday the tires were really falling off and I was slowing down. It was time for a new set of Hoosiers...


After the TDE event the next track on the schedule was TWS with NASA, and I was determined to not run at this track again without a roll bar and real harnesses. This track has a tendency to "eat cars" - each year it seems there are more cars damaged at TWS than at all other road courses in the state of Texas combined.

Making the decision to build this welded in roll bar involved some internal debate over which of these 3 "rollover protection" options we should use for this car:

1. Buy a pre-made 4-point roll bar and fit it, weld it together, and bolt it in
2. Build a custom 4-point roll bar and weld it into the car
3. Build a full 6-point roll cage that is welded into the car.

Option 1 wasn't really exciting to me as these bolt-in roll bar kits tend to be made to fit around interior bits (headliner, full interior panels, back seat) which we no longer have in this car. Plus I had done this in the blue 330 before. The compromises of building around the interior keeps the tubing 2-3+ inches below the roofline in a semi-gutted car like ours. The rear downbar mounts (below right) are also "less than ideal" and not fitted well. I get why they do that, but its just a compromise.

Bolt-in 4-point roll bar kit fitted, welded together, and bolted into our blue E46 330

Option 2 - a custom, welded 4-point roll bar - would fit better than Option 1, but the time it would take was a bit of an unknown. Why? We don't do this type of "half cage" deal often.

Option 3 - a full roll cage - didn't fit this car's "daily driven track car" goals, as its almost impossible to make a "safe" roll cage that isn't dangerous on the street. Hitting your head on an upper cage/door bar without a helmet on is risky. We can sometimes pull this off with shorter drivers or larger cars, but for me, in this car... wasn't going to ever be safe. We also know a full cage would eat up 60 hours of "lost billable hours" + $800 in materials, so that's pretty expensive even for a shop owner (we always have a waiting list of customer fab work we can do). So we went with option 2.

I was still worried about the amount of time a custom 4-point it would eat up, so I kept a close eye on that. And in the end it took about 1/3rd the time (a hair over 20 hours) to completely fabricate and weld in this custom roll bar. Pleasantly surprised, and with the hours and materials added up compared to the cost of a typical 4-point bolt-in bar + install, it comes to about the same price. Due to that realization we are going to do this type of custom 4-point more often rather than the 4-point bolt ins, with fewer compromises.

The rear carpet section was removed and the floor was cleaned where the steel mounting plates would be welded in. Leaving the factory shoulder belt anchors in the B-pillar was a point of contention, but I wanted to keep the OEM 3-point belts functional for a while longer - in case this car was still street driven (turns out that was a good idea). This kept the main hoop from touching the metal B-pillar structure, so the rear interior panels were also left in place - for now. Using a template from previous E46 cages, Ryan bent up a slightly narrower main hoop out with 1.75" dia x .095" wall DOM tubing. The tubing still fits very tight to the roof - inches closer than the bolt-in rollbar kits made for this chassis.

Like I pointed out above, one of the main drawbacks from the pre-made roll bar kits is where they mount the rear downbars to the chassis - at the rear sheet metal inner wheel wells, which aren't the strongest location on the E46. I asked Ryan to mount these diagonals to plates welded on top of the formed rear frame rails instead. This might cause some controversy, but its something that makes the most sense to us. Some folks fixate on mounting these rear downbars to the shock towers, or tying into or rear subframe mounts, but we don't feel that either location is ideal for a majority of the roll cage equipped BMWs out there, nor this car. We don't ever plan to use a "coilover rear shock", nor do we see rear subframes ripping out of BMWs when large chassis reinforcement plates are welded in properly.

Ryan wanted to zip some welds along the cross bar at the base of the main hoop (which are never on bolt-in cages), as they fit tight to the tub here. But no, that wouldn't be TTD legal. If we go to TT1/2/3/4 with this car, however, it might get some additional tie-ins to the chassis at this location and the B-pillar. If we want to turn this roll bar into a roll cage it would require cutting out the body mounts or removing the roof - and the latter is preferred (swapping to a carbon roof in an E46 isn't as hard as I once thought).

A single diagonal was added into the plane of the main hoop and another diagonal was added from the same junction between the two rear downbars. Two horizontal bars were also added - one at the base of the main hoop and one between the two rear downbars - which are above and beyond a normal bolt-in 4-point roll bar. Everything was TIG welded together other than the plates to the chassis, which were MIG welded to the tub. Much more substantial, and better fitting, than most bolt-in 4-point roll bar kits can offer.

Once Ryan had finished the fab work, Brad used ScotchBrite on the entire cage and then cleaned it up for paint. Using paper around everything left on the interior he applied two coats of VHT "Roll Bar & Chassis Paint" in semi-flat black.

With the paint drying overnight we could remove the tape and paper and had a pretty damn good looking, custom fitted roll bar. We had test fit seats into the car before the harness bar was added, and even with the seat slid back for me there was no need to "kick" the harness bar back behind the plane of the main hoop.

With the roll bar completed Aaron installed the Schroth Profi-II 6-point harnesses into the lap belt (reinforced at floor) and anti-sub (anchored at seat bracket). Then the seats went in and everything was adjusted to fit.

Hours before we were going to load up the car to go to TWS, the sticker set of Hoosier R7s arrived and were mounted up on our lone set of 17x10" wheels. I'm worried about only having one set of race wheels - which is just asking for trouble - but with a multi-month backlog for existing orders, we will look at other options. There is a plan in place for "the next two sets" of race wheels, which I will talk about in a future post. These 17x10's will become the practice/street set then.

Right: Corner weight shown with driver and fuel level as shown.

I blew the dust from fabrication out of the interior, Aaron vacuumed the remaining bits of carpet (in front of the front seats), and Brad washed the exterior before the 330 was loaded into the trailer Friday before the TWS event in April. The rear carpet section would need extensive trimming to fit around the main hoop and lower cross bar so it was left out. The curtain airbags were also removed, as they would be routed over the main hoop at the roof line, possibly making them dangerous if they were deployed in an accident. We weighed the car and the roll bar added about 50 pounds, so two 25 pound plates of ballast were removed (we also had a full tank of fuel in the car).

The car is looking better, except for the ratty bumper cover, hammer clearanced rear fenders, and tires touching at all four corners. Gotta work on flares next - but the ones we ordered showed up for the wrong car, so we didn't get them on before TWS. I will show that work soon...

NASA at TWS, APRIL 22-23, 2017

With the fresh set of sticker tires, newly added roll bar + harnesses, and a bit more power than when we ran at TWS last October we towed down to College Station on the Friday before the NASA race weekend to unload the trailer. We parked "on the beach" once again and grabbed some dinner at one of the wide variety of local restaurants, then we went to crash at our friend's. the Costas', where I helped wrench on his GT1 Camaro a little. We started with the #JankyStick to point out the less than perfect things on this car.

Which didn't matter - it still set the fastest lap time for the event that weekend, running in TTU. Paul Costas is an old racer buddy who has co-driven together with me in autocrosses and track cars for nearly three decades. He set the fastest lap time in our TTD E46 last October, finding two tenths where I wasn't looking for time at all. Thousands of laps and hundreds of wins at TWS can do that for ya. He's also an excellent "Setup Coach" and if I had the time and money I suspect he'd help us find more time in this car using his data logging skills, real time tire temp array, and driving tips.

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177 Posts
Discussion Starter · #66 ·
continued from above

The #JankyStick did show real power this weekend, tho - these two cars above got pictured with it: the Miata blew up the motor, and the Acura had all sorts of running issues all weekend. It is with great power comes great responsibility... :D

TWS is only run in this configuration now: the 2.9 mile CW circuit. There used to be other configurations and even the CCW direction, but due to the track "winding down" for some years now there haven't been repairs needed to run the other configs. So this is it.

And rumor has it that our October 27-29 NASA event here will be the last... but they've been saying this for the last 3 years. Who knows; they stopped doing real maintenance on this track long ago.


It was spitting rain when we arrived early to the track Saturday morning, which normally is a good excuse to skip a TT session. But that session is used to grid us up, and there were a LOT of cars, so I went out in the TT Warm-up session with the Hoosiers and wipers on.

Was looking for a time here to get a good grid position but we didn't even get a full hot lap before the session was black flagged. One TT driver didn't latch his hood - which flew up and smashed into the windshield at the end of pit out. And then one of my TTD competitors (new guy from out of region) in a Honda had a big off after turn 8 and got stuck in the mud. With two wreckers dispatched in the first lap they called the session off before there were any usable lap times.

Since nobody had times the first "real" TT session was a crap shoot at grid. I managed to get there early and finished 14th quickest of the session and also ran my quickest time of the weekend - a 1:58.172. That was surprising because it was still spitting rain on the out lap, but it was drying quickly. It took me a few laps to get heat into the tires and clear some slower traffic ahead of me (TT3 M3) but the ambient temps were still cool and that usually means "good times" are possible.

This video shows the new TTD lap record at TWS - note rain on windshield

That was a new track record by almost a second, so I was happy with that. It was overcast, windy, and cold and Amy could have made some laps but she decided to wait and drive the car on Sunday when the sun was supposed to come out. New record means I was sent straight to scales, where it weighed 3246 pounds - about 40 pounds over our declared weight.

The AiM was showing a 1:57.95 lap but the AMB and TrackAddict timers were both showing slower times in the 1:58.1 range. After looking at the video closely I have manually marked the Start/Finish line for TWS about 100 feet later than reality on the AiM. I probably set that up 4-5 years ago, so I'll purge the "manual map" I made for TWS and download one from AiM with a more accurate S/F line.

I went out in the 3rd session but was again stuck behind the same M3 - slow in the corners but motored away on the straights. At TWS there are a number of big straights, too. He finally let me by but it took many laps crowding his mirrors. Backing off to build a gap didn't help, as I'd be in the way of cars behind me. I skipped session 4 due since it was warming up so much.

Fellow TT racer Mark showed me his Track Addict data and app setup and convinced me to try it on my phone. I ran it in a couple of sessions that day, and with the settings tweaked right was pretty accurate. The times were within a tenth of the AMB loop, which on this track was more accurate than my AiM lap times.

The video it produced was super-shaky-cam due to a RAM X-grip mount that "rocks" in use. It was nice seeing the instant feedback of lateral g, speeds, etc. I ordered a new mount plus a OBDLinkMX wi-fi and Bluetooth module to both datalog and stream data to my phone. If I can get the phone to record video smoothly I might switch to this for lap videos - it sure is easier than recording video on a vidcam, logging data on the AiM, removing via RaceStudio2, merging video and data in DashWare or RaceRender, then editing the final video in Pinnacle Studio.

Left: The $45 RAM X-grip mount is TERRIBLE for taking video. Right: This $15 "squeeze" mount produces rock solid video.

Just ordered an array of cheap suction cup phone holders + RAM bolt-down ball-mount bases and arms to hold a phone in a race car. I'll try these plus the OBD data module and Track Addict app on my phone at our next track event, and might switch to my old faithful Sony VidCam mounted on the new roll bar too.

We stuck around for the NASA party, ate bar-b-q and received our 2016 Regional TTD championship (attendance?) award, plus the trophy for winning the TTD class of 3 on Saturday. We didn't set a single TTD track record in 2016 but we're 2 for 2 in 2017, showing the progression of our E46's capabilities. Its just so easy to drive now that even a hack autocrosser can smash class records.


Got too the track early to help Costas prep his GT1 car. He had run a 1:40.914 TTU lap record and win on Saturday and logged wins in both SU races as well - and he did the same thing on Sunday, even fighting some small issues.

Went out in the first session at 55°F, again cloudy and cold, and stuck in traffic the entire session where I only managed 1:58.336 - passing 2 cars on my best lap. The BMW had a bit of a "push" all weekend but I didn't run enough sessions to get to dialing it out - I kept blaming it on a green/cold track. Several other racers noted the same thing - but there were still new track records times in many classes.

Sunday results: http://timingscoring.drivenasa.com/...al Results/April TWS/TT Sun End of Day v2.pdf

After my first TT session I came in, Amy hopped into the right seat and we went out in the HPDE4 session - where she actually rode for two whole laps before she had enough! ;) This hasn't happened in years - she hates riding with me. I was taking some tame 2:01 laps to show her the lines, braking points, and grip levels.

We came right back in and went to grid and switched seats, then she drove the HPDE3 session - 3rd session in a row for the car, back-to-back. With some coaching she got down to a 2:05 lap pretty quickly and ran that consistently. The places where I had time on her in the car were all in high speed braking sections. She's just not yet as comfortable in this car as I am, as she has a fraction of the laps in the E46 as I do.

She took the rest of the HPDE 4 sessions that weekend and had a blast. She even did some lead follow laps with one of our customers, showing him the line. The brakes did great with all of this hot lapping, and the Powerbrake pads still have 3/4 pad life left after ~14 months of track abuse.

Lessons Learned: I managed to come in from the track "hot" once in this crazy sequence of driver swaps and that let the pads sit on BAKING hot rotors for a few minutes, which put some pad deposits onto the rotors. Once back on track that now feels like warped rotors. We need to get this stuff off (turn the rotors) or replace the Powerbrake rotor rings, soon. Always need to do a cool down lap to shed brake heat, with any kind of brakes.

With -3.8° camber up front we're still seeing significant bodyroll - maybe time for more spring rate

I also noticed some significant front tire lock-up on the LF tire when braking into the high speed left hand Turn 1, slowing from 125 mph in this off camber corner. It shouldn't do this with ABS, but as you can see at full tilt cornering the inside tire is barely touching the ground. We are seeing 1.3-1.4g lateral loading and its causing more bodyroll than I think is appropriate, even with 600F/750R spring rates. I will have the crew here crank up the swaybar settings, but it might be time to jump to higher spring rates, especially once we add aero and/or wider tires to this car (more on a potential "class jump" later). We ran 750F/900R on the blue 330 on 285 Hoosier A6 tires before and it worked great.

I also felt too much tire rub on the rear fenders in several corners (T1, T4, T9) due to excessive suspension travel and insufficient fender room. Its time to flare this car, and if the parts had shown up in time this would have been done before this event. I will show this "next major mod" next time.

Left: Jeff's Miata in our trailer and Right: driving our E46 to Dallas

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: After Amy ran the last HPDE4 session we were going to put it into the trailer, but one of our TT competitors (Jeff) blew the motor in his NB Miata, and he had no way to get it back 3+ hours north to Dallas. So another racer loaned us street wheels/tires and those were mounted to the E46, which he drove back while his Miata was in our trailer. Not really the street use we had in mind for this "daily driven track car" but he said it was a comfy ride, radio cranked and AC blowing cold. He commented "I'd daily this setup" and "It makes a lot of torque."

Left: Saturday end of day TT results (unsorted). Right: Sunday end of day TT results (sorted)

Overall the results from this NASA race weekend were good - Day 1 we won by 8 seconds, day 2 by 5. So we're not really getting pushed anymore, which is frustrating. And with less than 5 competitors in TTD once again we failed to win any tires. We seem to be stuck in a pattern now, but maybe that changes next time, who knows?

We were once again fastest for TTD class and quicker than TTE, which is pretty strong in our region. Without "maxing out" the car for TTD I'm happy with that.


At this TWS event TT4 class once again "made a class" (5 min) with 5 cars (mostly S2000s). A win there both days would bring home 4 free Hoosiers. Heck at most events this class has enough (7+) to bring home 1 tire for 2nd place each day, too. Granted they were 5.4 seconds ahead of us, but its a logical transition. TT4 would allow a splitter, wing, LSD, 275mm tires, and more power... gotta run the numbers and see if it makes sense. But our "not-maxed-out" TTD car is already ahead of many of the TT4 cars at most events now...

The TT-Number classes are much more likely to stabilize, whereas the TT-Letter classes have had rules changes and disappearing classes.... they will all be gone eventually. There is just too much points gaming you gotta do to be fast in TT-Letter, and it often pares the potential candidates down to few or even one chassis. We would have a LOT more freedom to show "what we can build" in TT-Number classes, and the E46 would be a LOT faster, too. Winning TTD and setting track records is nice, finally, but having to race in a car that is this slow relative to the rest of the field... is. Killing. ME.

For now we tenatively plan to keep this car in TTD for NASA @ COTA May 26-28 and NASA @ Hallett on June 24-25. If we keep doing well in TTD we might wrap up the Texas region class championship by then. So... maybe during the summer break we could make the switch? Its a possibility, and I'm itching to make this car a lot faster. Jumping up 2+ classes and losing the "points" handicap could allow this E46 to speed up.


On the long drive to Dallas the power steering pump broke once again (3rd time!) so we researched a better brand replacement and installed that. We also received the E46 Non-M 2-door flares from HARD Motorsport, and those were installed. I'll show that work next time.

We just did an SCCA Club Trials event on May 7th at MSR-Cresson running the 1.7 course CW, which is backwards from what most groups do. I drove the 330 there, instructed 2 students, plus drove 3 other cars. Busy weekend, but again excellent results. I will cover what we learned there next time. And now we have less than 3 weeks until NASA @ COTA, so we will go over the car carefully before we run at this HIGH speed track. There are also a few "mod wish list" items we might try to tackle, too.

Until next time,

177 Posts
Discussion Starter · #67 · (Edited)
Project Update for June 9th, 2017: We did 3 track events as well as another round of upgrades to our #DailyDrivenTrackCar. As we expected going into this project, as the car gets faster the compromises to street use multiply. Its still streetable at this point but after the next round it might not be. Two more competition track events and a track test day since my last update. This included an SCCA Club Trials event on May 7th at MSR-Cresson, a test day at MSR (only took one session in the 330, then coached in another car), and a NASA race weekend at COTA May 27-27th.

We also installed the HARD Motorsport flares, which finally let me push the car HARD at COTA (see above) without tire rub. The flares fit very well - I wish we had done these sooner. We fixed the power steering pump (#3) that broke on the long drive back from TWS last time. We have also started an "investigative tear down" of a complete M54 engine looking for more: displacement, power, and reliability. If/when we move up to TT4 we will need a good bit more power and I'd like to keep a Naturally Aspirated it M54 under the hood.


This is the third time we've had to replace a power steering pump in this 330 and I don't know what's killing them. They always break on the street, not on track, so its not curb jumping (which I don't do) or high RPMs that is killing them. We've used a rebuilt CarDone (cheap Chinese brand), rebuilt AC Delco, and now this new Allied Atlantic Enterprises unit.

I'm hoping the slightly more expensive NEW unit lasts longer than the rebuilt ones we have failed before. Its not a difficult or expensive fix, just getting tired of it happening. This brand has better reviews for E46 pumps so we'll see how long it lasts.


This section is long, and some folks might not understand why "covering a tire" could take up this much text. I try to show a lot of examples of flaring race cars before we get to the actual flare install on our red 330, detailed in the next sub-section.

Why flare? The two most important aspects to make a car faster on a road course or autocross include: Power-to-Weight and Tire Width-to-weight ratios. Many people understand the first ratio but ignore the importance of the second. Tire-to-weight is even more important in autocross, but still very important to road course times.

18x10.5" wheels and 295 Hoosier A7s on NC MX5 Miata, which we added flares to

Adding tire width to drop lap times is something often overlooked but we've fought "internet wisdom" over the last 30 years of racing on autocross and road race courses by using ever wider tires. We STILL get the Debbie Doubters that say "you won't get enough heat in that tire!" or "that wide tire will slow you down!". We have not yet found the limit to "too much tire width" on our builds. The 180 whp Miata above got faster with each tire width upgrade, our TT3 Mustang RAN OUT OF TIRE OPTIONS at 345mm and got faster in each jump as we went from from 255-345mm tire widths, etc. I can name dozens other cars we have built/raced/tested that people told us would "slow down" with wider tires, and yet kept getting faster, easier to drive, and longer lasting.

My friends who race a V6 powered Firebird in WRL (see above - we built some systems on this car) just did a great tire test. Day one at a 2 day endurance race weekend they ran a 275mm tire (new Conti), and wore them out. Day two at the same event/same drivers they ran the 315mm sized tire I begged them to use from the beginning (on a worse compound - Falken). The 315s were faster, are projected to last about 4 times longer, and the car was easier to drive. They can pass Miatas in turns and outbrake everything. Just another of many examples where "bigger is better" with respect to tires. We don't even argue this anymore - the timers don't lie. WIDER IS BETTER.

The Firebird can swallow 315s under stock fenders with the right tweaks, as can a few other cars. But sometimes getting wider tires to FIT UNDER FENDERS (ie: not poking!) takes a lot of work. Sometimes people are just lazy and use a wheel with the wrong offset - like the two cars above (which can tuck 11" wide custom wheels correctly but the common is an 18x10.5" that pokes). About half the cars I see on "big tires" are sticking past the fenders, but the owners often try to say otherwise. If they are honest with themselves they know that if they drive the car hard the fenders will cut into the tires, which causes handling issues and potentially can damage the fender or tire.

I've done it myself - I'm by no means perfect - but each time I paid the price. I either compromised the alignment setup or ride height to try to prevent tire rub, or just dealt with the tire rub - like we have for over a year on this red 330. But tire poking is bad, and we need to call out friends when they are trying to justify their pokey wheel fitments. #SayNoToPoke

Left: This C6Z06 has 18x12" wheels we had built on 335mm tires. Right: C7GS comes with 20x12" rears and 335s

Some car makers are waking up to the realization that tire width works. The hotted up Shelby GT350, 1LE Camaro, and GS/Z06 Corvettes come with wider tires - and they are faster for it.

Left: C6 Z06 with 315 front, 345mm rear tires

Then there are the BIG tires... 335, 345, or even 355mm. Very few cars come with enough extra fender width to fit these massive sizes. That's one of the biggest advantages to cars like the C6 Z06 is that they can swallow 335 (front) and 345mm (rear) tires without any fender work. Driving these cars on massive tires is just: easier and faster. There's no situation with turns involved where these cars would be faster on narrower tires.

To fit bigger tires you often need to cut and modify fenders for clearance. We get a lot of questions about fender flares because I've done a lot of BMW flares myself and have shared a lot of pictures in several galleries and on dozens of forums of various methods to flare a car. Over the past 13 years Vorshlag has grown and now we have proper fabricators that know their craft and can do sheet metal work beyond what I ever could, so we tackle tougher flare jobs that other shops can't. We have also learned more about aero drag, fender/hood venting, and other aspects that have changed the way we make flares since our early days.

Sometimes a "widebody" cut-and-splice is the better option, or traditional "box flares" that widen more than half the body - and we've done that also. This tends to work on cars that are already "boxy", like the E30 and GD Impreza above.

Some of you have seen the custom flares we have built on various cars in previous build threads, like these below on our TT3 Mustang (to clear 335mm tires). The rears are bigger to clear our NASA TT3 rear tire (345 Hoosier A7), so they look a bit oversized in the image below.

The front flares were made from 18 gauge steel by our fabricator Ryan at approx 10 hours per side. These were improved from a previous design I had helped build with a steel/fiberglass mold and thermoformed ABS plastic flares, which I sheared off in a crash at Road Atlanta (the patched up plastic flares are visible in the picture below at left, in red). The new steel flares could take cone hits much better, which was useful for autocross events we ran in this car (Optima and SCCA).

We are currently building something even wilder for for a customer's V8 E46 M3 now (for 335F, 345R tires), which is talked about in this build thread (which I linked to before).

This is one has a bit of over-the-top styling but that matches the utter ridiculousness of this whole project. On a car getting the biggest wing, the widest DOT Hoosiers, and with a giant 7.7L V8 making 700+ whp, you don't do "just whatever works" - you go big on the flares.

The thing is custom flares like these take a LOT of fabrication time to make, plus they always require bodywork and paint. So on our 330 I was looking at costs - It gets a bit spendy, even for a shop owner. Every hour we are working on a "shop car" still costs $105/hour in lost income - because we have more backlog than we can complete.

On my previous blue TTD/DSP E46 330 - a car I made a number of mistakes on, which we are rectifying with this build - I flared the front myself. This car was built around an 18x10" wheel and 285/30/18 tire at all four corners, which was legal at the time for TTD.

I showed how we first rolled then flared the fenders on this E46 in this gallery. By grafting new E46 M3 front fenders (which are way more expensive now!) with small sections of factory 330 front fenders it made for an SCCA legal "flared fender".

This took a number of hours to fab up cleanly, then some bodywork and paint to make pretty. I did all of the fab work at 2 am the night before an SCCA National event, but the paint work came later. The rear was another story...

Initially I just hoped to roll the rears enough to clear the big tires. First I mounted a 265/35/18 onto the 18x10" wheel, and with aggressive rolling that fit. Of course I had to grind the "gunk" out of the rear fender joint first. This is where 3 layers of sheet metal join up on the rear unibody to form the fender lip, which has a big lip. The factory fills this lip with hardened "goo" that you have to chisel out with tools and grinders.

Clearing these relatively narrow 265/35/18 Yokohama Race tires with 18x10" wheels only took fender rolling

Aggressive fender rolling at both ends (plus the "grinding of the goo" on the rear lips) was enough to clear the 265s and it didn't tear up the paint at all. I ran the car like this for a number of months but it needed more tire to be competitive in DSP and TTD, and since I had the TT points... it was time to swing some hammers.

It was ugly and took a lot of hammer swings but we made the rear fenders clear a 285/30/18

I beat the piss out of the rear fenders to clear the 285mm tires. Hours of swinging a 5 pound sledge hammer from the inside. Full swings, till your shoulders and arms hurt, banging away. It distorted the whole rear fender, and my paint and body guy begged me to NEVER do this again.

My bodyman fixed all of my hammering sins (above) but it took a lot of hours of massaging, fab work, and filler on his part to clean it up. It has held up for many years since, but I never liked the disparity in how different the front and rear fenders looked. This time I vowed to "do it right".

Flaring the rear fenders correctly on a unibody car involves a lot more work than just "cutting the fender lips off" like the front. It takes hours of cutting, moving metal, checking bump travel of the tire, then patching the rear fender sheet metal back together. I've done this on a number of cars and it is never fun. There are 2 or 3 layers of sheet metal that have to be cut and re-joined with more clearance. We'll show more of that below.

This picture above shows my old blue 330 and my current red 330. The blue car is on 275s and has tons of tire clearance to the fenders. The red car is on 245s and is rubbing in big corners. Time to fix this...

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177 Posts
Discussion Starter · #68 · (Edited)
continued from above


Let's cover the flares we picked for our 330 - which should work for both TTD (wide 245mm) and TT4 (275mm).

As you know we fit the these freakishly wide 245/40/17 Hoosiers (9.7" of tread width) onto custom spec'd 17x10" wheels early on. The TTD class points pretty much limit us to a 245mm tire and this was the widest option out there in a competitive compound. For the last season and a half we have been seeing tire-to-fender rub when the car takes a bump on track or if I rub the FIA curbing. Sometimes it does it on flat pavement - like when I have the car loaded up transitioning into a corner, the rear fender can sometimes grab a tire and make the car rotate violently. This has kept me from pushing the car consistently - it can make that level of grip in sustained corners with a gentle entry.

Because this issue is holding the car back, the fender interference had to be addressed. I never suspected I'd need to flare an E46 with only a 245mm tire, but this is really wide when mounted on a 10" wide wheel. The front fender is rubbing also, just not as badly as the rear. BMW makes the fender lips lower on rear fenders of a lot of their cars, so the rear tire "tucks" under the lip much sooner than the fronts (see above). And the rear is much harder to flare... we'll get to that below.

After running the numbers on making custom flares, and test fitting the generic eBay junk, we settled on flares made precisely for this car model from HARD Motorsport.

HARD Motorsport E46 flares, which come in 4 door and 2 door versions (Left = Sedan, Right = Coupe)

These thermoformed ABS plastic flares built in the USA, and being a HARD dealer we wanted to try them out ourselves. We purchased kits for both a 4 door E46 Sedan as well as another for our 2 door E46 Coupe; I'll show the sedan flares being installed on the E46 328 "Track Rat" project in a later post (also getting 17x10" wheels). These fit really well around the stock body panels of the non-M E46 chassis, even the factory trim, yet provide clearance similar to the E46 M3 fenders.

We've already hammered the rear fenders more than I wanted to on this red 330, which I've shown in previous updates. This was done in stages and each time I had to push it more I was worried about the bodywork bill that would inevitably come when we had finished the clearancing and committed to a tire long enough to get this car to paint. Those sections would be cut off or covered by the HARD flares, which we could have painted off the car (avoiding bodywork and an expensive "full respray").

I wrote a post to show the installation details but will summarize it here: first the front flares were test fit and the outer edges marked. The offending fender lips were then cut off to add more room for bump travel for the front tires. Ryan then mocked up, marked, and drilled the fronts for bolt holes. Normally folks will rivet these on but we wanted something that made them removable, so in the shot above Clecos were used to temporarily hold them in place before we added threaded inserts to the sheet metal.

If we were making custom flares we'd cover the leading edges of the tires to reduce aero drag - a spinning tire in the air stream is bad - but the TT-Letter rules don't allow canards, tire walls, or "proper" flares that extend to the front like this without taking points. Which we don't have to spend now. What about TT4? The rules there are also very limited with respect to aero and don't allow canards at all. So we just needed a "traditional" set of flares here - that cover the top of the tire. We wanted them to be big enough to cover a 275mm tire, for when we move up to TT4, too. So that made these HARD Motorsport flares perfect for this build.

After the front fenders were cut it was time to cut the rears - no more hammers. After briefly mocking up the flares out back, Ryan marked the cut line (blue tape) and then cut the fender lips off again. This left a gap in the rear fenders that needed to be patched and welded back together.

The rear fender clearancing and patch work is by far the hardest part of any flare job, but one most folks gloss over. The images above are from the E46 M3 we're building around a 345mm rear tire and shows the details better. The fender is cut WAY up and away from the protruding tire - adding enough bump travel to keep the tire from rubbing. The 3 layers of sheet metal are then patched and welded together. Then the area is primed with paint suitable for raw steel. Removing the paint and undercoating beforehand is the messiest part of the job, of course.

The flares are formed well and "self-fixture" themselves to these cars - they go on one obvious way. Once they were taped in place Ryan laid out the hole spacing, drilled through the flare and fender, then added the Clecos temporarily.

Since we want the flares easily removable, we added nutserts to the holes instead of rivets. With the fender side holes enlarged, nutserts were installed with a special threaded rivet gun, which expands the threaded insert behind the sheet metal securing it in place. This was done to all flare locations, and even plastic front bumper cover mounting holes - we used a different type of expanding nutsert for use with plastic or fiberglass there. Pro tip: coating the inside of the nutsert with epoxy helps keep them from spinning in place once installed.

With the final threaded hardware installed the flares were done - total installation time was 11.51 hours, including the welding of the rear unibody and some "follow up" clearance work after the Club Trials event below. Making custom flares can take 10 hours a corner, plus bodywork and paint, so this was a much more cost effective flare install. We can unbolt them for paint, repair, etc. We used stainless countersunk M4 bolts to thread into the M4 nutserts with countersnk stainless Tinnerman washers to spread the load. With everything bolted in place the car now has much more tire clearance and was ready for a track test.

SCCA Club Trials at MSR 1.7 CW, May 7, 2017

This was another SCCA Club Trials / PDX event that the Texas Region SCCA held at MSR-Cresson. These events are their way of breaking into the Time Trial / HPDE type of ladder system that NASA has integrated so well into their club racing weekends, but the SCCA is keeping these separate from their club race events - for now.

Photo gallery: https://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-Events/SCCA-Club-Trials-at-MSR-17-CW-May-7-2017/

In the past the SCCA has tried to just lump all cars into one Club Trials group but they have wisely moved to a tiered HPDE system, using the traditional Green/Blue/Yellow/Red. The Green PDX 1 (total noobs) and Blue PDX 2 (some track experience) groups had instructors, with Yellow (Club Trials) and Red (Instructors/Club Trials) run in separate groups. I applaud the move to standard tiered groups and hope they can continue to grow their events - and hopefully someday integrate these into their Club Racing weekends.

At this event they ran the 1.7 mile MSR course ClockWise, or backwards from the normal direction. The track isn't really paved to run this way (runoff curbing isn't there) but the 1.7 CW it isn't completely unheard of, so we entered to support the event and get some seat time in this configuration. I signed up as an instructor and was assigned TWO students, one in PDX1 and one in PDX2. Neither had ever been on track, but at least my PDX2 student was a skilled autocrosser and she did great.

This group still has the instructors drive the student's cars for a couple of laps in the first session, which I don't like to do (and isn't allowed anymore in many HPDE groups) but I went along with the program. At least this black 328is was a car we had worked on extensively at Vorshlag - it was shop manager Brad Maxcy's car, and the student in question was his wife Jen, who I know well. I took two "75% laps" and showed her the line, which I knew from previous 1.7 CW events. Then we came into the hot pits, switched places, and she drove again for the rest of the day. I did the same with a 3rd gen Viper owner in PDX1 and rode through with both of them in every session that day. The order was Instruct/Rest/Instruct/Drive... then repeat 5 times.

There were 65 entries and 44 in Club Trials, so it was busy on track. 44 is an impressive TT number even for NASA, and at this SCCA event they broke us up into two run groups (Yellow and Red). For results they lumped cars together in classes based on SCCA autocross categories, then used an autocross PAX factor to equalize the times... its kind of silly, but until they get some sort of direction from National office on real CT classes its what they do. I will let the meme above speak for itself...

Come to find out I was in the largest class of 8 "Street Prepared" cars, which my TTD car fits into best (DSP). I was joined in this category by faster SSP, BSP, CSP, and ESP cars as well as two other DSP cars. I was effectively in the slowest PAX "class" within the SP category for track cars and I figured I'd get clobbered in my little 245mm R7 equipped BMW with 220 whp, but we'd check both raw and these "PAX factored" times and see how we did after the event.

Turns out the little 330 did all right! Only 3 cars at this event posted faster lap times: Ken O's TT3 E46 M3 (80.635), John Wallace's TTC classed S2000 (81.962), and Feras' CAM-S classed C6 Z06 (82.851 - which I also drove). We've worked on 2 of these 3 cars at Vorshlag, and Wallace is blazing fast in TTC, so I was pretty happy with that list.

The best lap of the day is in the video above

The video shows some of session 2 in our red 330, and on lap 8 I ran my best lap of the day at 84.566 (1:24.566), before the weather turned unseasonably warm (shot up to 88°F). We had a lot of traffic so it was difficult to get a quick lap in. I ran again in sessions 3, 4, and 5 but by then the track temps were too - mostly I was just giving students rides. This was the "fresh" set of tires we purchased and ran for TWS (and the May MSR track test/coaching day I am not showing) and I needed to save them for at least 1 more event (COTA), but when my own students ask for rides I'm a softie and always give in.

Watching that video and listening to my audio notes a month later it almost seems like it was a bit more frustrating of a day than I now remember - but I'm still glad I went. Sure the timers didn't work in the first session, the traffic was pretty bad, I fought all day for a clear lap, and I didn't get a moment's rest. The Club Trial group was also very different from a NASA TT group. Some were NASA TT folks and you could tell - they made it easier to pass when there were cars behind them. Others here had less situational awareness and were tougher to pass. Our TTD car is far from "fast" and I'm lucky to be gridded mid-pack in NASA, but being 4th fastest of the day here kind of shows where this group is. But SCCA Club Trials is new in North Texas and the roster of CT racers will only grow and get faster. :)


This is where I'd normally point you to the schedule for this new series. But today as I write this, the Texas Region SCCA page for PDX/Club Trials has no schedule listed, no dates, and the results from this event are not posted (almost a month later). The schedule is kind of important, let me make some phone calls.

  • August 26, PDX and Club Trials, MSR-Cresson 1.3 mile
  • November 18-19, 2 day Club Trials event on the CLUB RACE WEEKEND
Got this list via text from someone in the SCCA, and I suspect it will end up on their website eventually. Looks like they are moving to merge CT and Club Racing on the same weekend (November), which is a smart move both for financial reasons (shared insurance/track rental costs) as well as the "getting all of the racers together in one place to breed more Club Racers" reasons. Emulate what works so well with NASA = brilliant. August in Texas is beyond hot so I doubt I'll make that event on the 1.3 mile MSR-C course, not to mention passing there is nearly impossible. Maybe if we get a Cool Suit system in the car, we'll see.

In one of the yellow groups I also drove this Corvette C6 Z06, which we've worked on at Vorshlag. This is a car with coilover Penske's, heads/cam/headers upgrade, and 18x12" wheels (which we spec'd) and 335mm Rival-S tires square. We also recently installed a prototype Powerbrake BBK up front, which I really needed to feel/drive on track before we told Powerbrake to release this new prototype fitment.

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177 Posts
Discussion Starter · #69 ·
continued from above

Well the brakes WORKED WELL, and so did the handling, and so did the power. Driving this car broke something inside of me... but in a good way. I hooned TF out of this car. Man, it was a religious experience. Amy and I custom ordered a 2005 Z51 when these first came out in 2004, and the temptation to buy another C6 is strong. When my C4 Corvette race car sells it might happen.

The day of this event started in at z brisk 59°F but ended at a sweltering 88°F. I ran 5 sessions in the BMW (giving ride-alongs after lunch), plus the two student cars, plus the C6 Z06, and then rode with students a lot in 8 or 9 sessions. I was a little light on my water intake and got pretty wiped out from the heat. Still, it was a lot of fun - especially those handful of laps in the Z06. The right rear tire was still touching the fender a bit on the 330, so that was on the list to inspect after this event.

Our trailer became the "run heat posting" board for this event, so I kept all of the run heat printed times after the event. The fastest laps were all done in Red heat #2. Again, I was just happy to be 4th fastest of the event in a little TTD prepped 330 - we don't get to say that often!


We got back from the Club Trials event and the main issue noted there was the tire rub at the rear. Turns out they weren't touching on the fenders or the flares.

Ryan removed the rear bumper cover and trimmed the leading edges where they meet the fenders, which is where the rub was. We'll keep an eye on this and might need to trim more.

There are rear bumper relocation brackets that come with the kit, but we didn't see them helping so we left them off fr now. We might swap these in if there's still rub happening here. On BMW E36 rear flares I've done in the past I did space the bumper way out to match the flares I built but these HARD Motorsport rear flares don't have a lot of added width in the rear, and they line up fine now.


We picked up this 1999 328i two years back to possibly build into a ChumpCar or WRL endurance race car, but shortly after buying it our priorities changed. Since then we've been slowly turning this into a dual purpose track/street car with some new or lightly used parts from other projects. This car recently sold and the new owner wants even more track prep done, so I'll start to show a the upgrades in the next handful of thread posts.

Left: The initial weight was 3229 pounds. Right: 2.5 hours later the weight was 2795 pounds.

Weight reduction is the easiest way to make a race car faster, and this E46 sedan is a good example of getting a lot of weight out in a short amount of time. In only a few hours this E46 lost 430 pounds, which is a tremendous amount for $0. Of course we would need to replace the front seats, which we did below.

This 430 weight loss included the front and rear seats, the carpet, headliner and door panels. At 2795 pounds the car still had 100% of the factory exhaust, the entire AC system was still there and functional, heavy 17x8" wheels, 72 pounds of sunroof, and all of the glass. Normally it takes about 6 hours to strip all of this out but there were 3 people and they made quick work of it.

Next up was more weight loss, this time in the power retracting sunroof cassette. This was removed in about half an hour and it weighed a staggering 72.0 pounds. Removing this + the headliner adds 3-4" of additional headroom which is super useful for taller drivers. All of this weight is at the highest part of the car as well. We have a little post showing install tips on this carbon sunroof delete panel in more detail.

What went back in was this dry carbon fiber sunroof delete panel from AJ Hartman Racing. We've used a number of these on E46 chassis and it only weighs 1.4 pounds. This is real deal, Motorsports dry carbon part, so it has minimal epoxy and no glossy gel coat (weight) added. It needs to be painted, wrapped, or clear coated before it sees sun/rain.

There is a flange for bolt holes around the perimeter, but you need to be extra careful on the rear as there are no factory holes to use. Self tapping screws need to be VERY short or you risk poking into the roof sheet metal. Ask me how I know...

I have a LOT more prep to show on this 328i next time, but to summarize we have added: 330 brakes, Bilstein coilover suspension, Powerflex bushings, rear subframe reinforcement, roll bar, racing seats & Schroth harnesses, custom aluminum door panels/center console/false floors, Magnaflow exhaust, Jongbloed 3-piece wheels, and more. And before the next installment it will have: new balancer, oil pump shaft, oil pan baffle, HARD Motorsport flares, 17x10" wheels, and a few more goodies.

NASA AT COTA May 27-28, 2017

Got a lot to cover and not much space left in this post. I'll summarize: I signed up for COTA with fairly low expectations of this track being fun. I had only run parade laps on 2 occasions before. It felt like driving anything slower than an F1 car here would be boring. I was wrong. With 20 turns, lots of elevation changes, and tons of challenges this place is a mind bender. We got to paddock inside their beautiful facility, had some great racing, endured some hot weather, but left with a huge smile on my face.

We loaded up the 330 and towed down to Austin in Clifford (the big red truck), with Amy I leaving Dallas at 12:30 Friday. Due to Memorial Day weekend traffic and never-ending highway construction from Dallas to Austin we didn't get there until 6 pm. Should be a 3 hour drive with no traffic, but "traffic" soon became a theme of the weekend.

NASA paddock at COTA panoramic pic

We did get lucky and managed to find one of the last open spots in the paddock, near the garages. We quickly parked and unhooked the trailer, unloaded the 330, then moved all of our stuff into the garage space we rented. Not something we normally do but someone suggested early on that this would be an ideal spot to watch races from - as the F1 garages back into the pit lane on the front straight. There were also air conditioned "Driver's lounges" right off our garage, which was next to the massive video control room. The garage rental was a wise choice.

Our garage preview video - showing the insane machines parked next to our lowly 330

Each F1 style double garage was shared by up to 8 cars, which made for one hilarious discrepancy in the level of machinery we had in our two units... there was a GT4 classed McLaren, three GT3, Cayman race car, C7 GS, and our janky E46! I went over to driver info and ask "Are you sure you have us in the right spot??" Due to the average costs differences, the #JankyStick got a workout - with our own car.

We had a LOT of racers in W2W and TT (NASA Texas record), and HPDE3-4 was fairly busy, but HPDE1-2 had fairly low attendance (18) - probably due to the $1200 entry fee for Saturday Sunday (most HPDE groups charge $900 for a weekend here). It was another $500 to run Friday's test day, so we skipped that and I thought "I'll just pick up this course as I race". Big mistake - this was a tough track to learn for me. Skipping Friday's warm-up probably cost me a couple of seconds...

COTA Event Photo Gallery: https://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-Events/NASA-COTA-052717/

We took a number of pictures, videos, and bought the digital images for the good track stuff from MohFlo. Gallery above has what we got.

Saturday TT

There was an EARLY Instructors meeting at 7 am, then a quick TT meeting where a lot of out-of-region racers joined us. We literally had entries at this event from every single NASA region in USA + some racers from Mexico and other countries. The weather was very overcast early and the forecast was for rain all weekend, but we lined up on grid and went out in the first TT session, the Warm-up. Here times are taken but only used for gridding purposes in the next session. I stayed out a while and was mired in traffic, only running a 2:46 lap. Very frustrating, I was lost and not in the groove at all.

I called Paul Costas and asked him for some pointers for this track, which he has raced in W2W (WRL), in his GT1 Camaro, in his 911, and more. Paul sent me a link to a video of one of his laps at this track in a WRL car (#TeamPontini) and walked me through each corner. I will share what I can remember from his coaching... if there are any mistakes they are mine.

COTA TRACK TRICKS - The main thing is to exploit the generous, paved track limits and to setup well for a number of critical corners that are linked by previous corners. The braking point into T1 (see below) required extremely late braking. As you head up the steep hill after the front straight it helps you slow down just from the vertical elevation. If you brake before the 100 foot mark it was too soon.

The esses (see below) in T3/T4/T5 should be ATTACKED, and the first two should be taken nearly at WOT with as much red/white curbing as you can get without touching the big yellow curbs. Then T6 has to be compromised for a good line into T7 (use plenty of track limits out), and T8 compromised for T9 (with lots of track out). T10 can be short cut almost to the grass on the inside, which cuts off distance on the short chute down to the critical T11.

Turn T11 is super important because it is tight, located before a long straight, and requires a VERY late braking at the 100 foot mark or later. BIG yellow curbs on the exit you have to avoid, though. T12 and T15 are also both tight, slow corners and unforgiving, with T13 and T14 linked. The BIG right-hander sequence at the base of the "tower" for T16-T18 is FAST, but you have to prepare for a sizable bump exiting T18 (not an issue with good dampers). T19 is super critical - most people brake hard, downshift and take the corner too slowly. You can find a lot of time if you keep your speed up through this corner, track out WAY past the rumbles, and just miss the inside yellow curb at the apex. T20 is tight and slow, and it will bite you if you go wide on exit with more big yellow curbs - but is right before another long straight, so you gotta get it right.

There are BIG yellow curbs (see below left) that are bolted to the track surface for some events like this one, and hitting those can put your car airborne, bend wheels, or pound the underside of your car. One car supposedly drove over one of these, busted an oil line loose, and cause a major car-b-q. I rode along with Amy when she clobbered these on the exit of T20 and T11 both, making me lose my mind. My HPDE1 student hit the ones in T20 also, putting us in the air. They will BITE!

I coached right seat with Amy (above right) in one session Saturday and another Sunday; she co-drove the 330 in HPDE4 all weekend. She rode along with me in an HPDE4 session for a few laps on Sunday, so I could show her the line, track limits, and braking points. I had a student who I rode with on 6 of his 8 sessions and then I took him for a ride-along on Sunday in HPDE4 also. I drove 6 of the 8 possible TT sessions, as I really needed to learn this track. Temps both days creeping up past 96°F and humidity you could cut with a knife. The hectic schedule combined with the heat drained me - I was pounding water and Gatorade both days but just couldn't get fluids in fast enough. I need to start to "pre-hydrate" on the days before.

Left: Lordy this LMP with an LS engine was fast!! 2:08 lap times?! Right: Mike was flying in AI at 2:30s

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177 Posts
Discussion Starter · #70 · (Edited)
continued from above

The NASA National office folks were there to observe with rumors of NASA Nationals here? Couldn't find a better place to host a major NASA event at the country's only active track on the F1 schedule. The facilities are immense and world class! I guess when you spend $450M to build a track that is to be expected.

I wore my driving suit all day Saturday and part of Sunday, but shed the soaking wet garment late Saturday when I was feeling the heat. Its not the safest way to drive on track obviously but neither is passing out from sweating so much you get heat stroke. I hope the organizers remember how hot it is in late May/early June when they plan this event next year's calendar. This far south it gets HOT quick.

Traffic in the TT sessions was pretty rough. I don't know why its so hard for drivers to get off line and give a point by when you are holding someone up, or on your cool down lap. I have never seen a NASA TT event this bunched up, on a track this huge, in all of my years with this organization. We had over 45 drivers, but not everyone was driving in each session. If I felt like I was holding anyone up I would bail on that lap and point them by - obviously I had made a mistake on that lap, or they were just faster. The sooner they got around me the sooner we could settle into our class / grid rankings and get clear laps.

Saturday's "TT session 1" (our 2nd session of 4 that day) was a good bit faster for me than the Warm-up, with a 2:43.932 lap, mostly just learning the lines from Costas' notes. I went out again in TT session 3 but the ambient temps were so high and traffic SO BAD that I never got a faster lap time. I skipped session 4 due to the temps being at 96°F after lunch, and my total lack of energy by that time. Still coached Amy and instructed my student.

By day's end that 2:43 lap was enough to win the 5 car TTD class by 1.5 seconds and set the first ever TTD track record here (this was NASA's first event at this track). After this hot day I drank the best cold beer I ever had! We were goofing around and found cutouts of the F1 drivers so of course I had to get a shot on the F1 podium with Hammy. We stuck around to get a trophy but skipped the Saturday night "party crawl" to go to dinner (inside air conditioning, with lots of water refills) with friends Joe D (SI racer) and his family (including my student), plus American Iron racer Stewart M. After that meal I slept like a rock that night.


Up early again for the 7 am HPDE meeting for Amy, then I lined up on grid to look for a better time in the coolest temps of the day - Sunday was once again "the money session". Unfortunately there were 4+ cars gridded ahead that were holding me up badly between T2-T10 and again in T13-T19 in the opening laps. There are such long straights with so many turns in between here that the "momentum" cars like TTD really do have to fight the powerful cars for track space. It didn't help that we had some "TT Tourists" giving ride-alongs in the TT competition session, driving laps 5+ seconds off their normal pace - who couldn't give a point by to save their lives. I complained to the higher ups but got a "Too bad - go faster" response. I managed a 2:42.848 lap making a pass in heavy traffic, temporarily giving us a 4 second lead over 2nd place.

For TT session 2 I talked to the 3 guys gridded behind me and told them I was going to build a massive gap (100+ yards) to the slower cars gridded ahead of us on the out lap. This might give us a lap without being held up in the twisty bits. Now we're not supposed to do this gap trick, but people aren't supposed to block either - so we did what we had to do. "Too bad". I still caught them by the T2-5 complex on the first lap, then backed way off and let 3 cars behind me go by. I let them get ahead for a lap, built another gap, then found a good chunk of time. I ran my best time of the weekend of 2:42.340 this way, but it was still hotter than the ideal track conditions of the first session.

Video from Sunday Session 2 - best lap of the weekend

As you can see in the video above I wasn't exactly happy with that lap, and there were multiple driving mistakes that cost time. The rear tires were also struggling by that point - too hot, too many heat cycles, just never "came in" in this session. I was slower in the esses than in previous sessions, just finally was able to patch together a quicker lap without all of the traffic. I never really got a lap all weekend where I nailed all of the high speed braking markers, clipped every apex, used all of the track out room, and maxed out what the car could do... a combination of learning the track, TRAFFIC, tire age, TRAFFIC, little driving mistakes, TRAFFIC, and track temps. These factors combined to never allowed me to sync up what I felt the car should do (2:40-2:39) on a "full tilt" lap. Oh well, maybe next time.

I still had nearly a 4 second lead over 2nd place after session 2, and with the rising ambient/rack temps and my level of sweating I felt we had seen the best track conditions already - so I skipped TT session 3. For once I gave Amy the car (she always ran right after me) without blistering hot tires and brakes. Now she could work on her lap times (she was still "gaining courage" up until the last session) without boiling tires. The 2nd place TTD car was an NC Miata that had aero and power - he was pulling me on the straights - but luckily was braking super early and going slower in the esses. He was usually gridded 1 or 2 cars behind me and could see my lines, and I could see that he was getting faster. He went out in TT session 3, found a bunch of time, and got within a second of me?! Uh-oh.

OK so now we have some serious competition, this time from someone out of region I don't know, and I have one session left to stay ahead. Do I go out, do I skip it? Will he? If he finds any more time in session 4 I could not only lose for the day (and potentially 2 tires) but lose the track record (which I had reset in session 2). I went to grid for TT session 4 with some serious pressure, but no other cars were there yet (see below left) when we were scheduled to go out - just me. Maybe I could get a "solo session" and work on my lines, maybe still find some time in this late afternoon heat? Slowly more and more and more TT drivers arrived to grid, and my closest TTD competitor was supposed to be gridded right behind me. If he showed up to grid I was going to stay out there in front of him for the entire time, to see what he could do.

With a long delay due to a Spec Miata crash the last TT session was stuck sitting on grid for an eternity - 45 minutes passed in sweltering high 90s heat, and by then 10 TT drivers had arrived. I stayed on grid, looking for that TTD Miata. 5 minute warning. 3 minute. 1 minute. No Miata. Right before TT took to the track DARK clouds rolled in (see above right) from a looming MEGA storm.

Amy said "He's not coming. You won - now go out there and drive!" So I did. I drove the piss out of the car, knowing I had a fresh set of tires coming from Hoosier for the next race. Held nothing back, pounded out laps. And consequently had the most fun of the weekend with no pressure any more. I narrowly missed a TTC S2000 spinning right in front of me entering T10 on the first lap, but other than that I finally had my first traffic free laps of the weekend. With this set of Hoosiers essentially cooked out (with a combined 5 weekends of driving among 3 drivers) I still managed to run a 2:43.5 lap in the highest temps of the weekend. I stayed out a long time, just stringing corners together, pushing the car more and more. This track is LOTS OF FUN!

I finally came in when I started to run out of fuel (the long T16-T18 corner would fuel starve with anywhere near 1/2 tank) and Amy was watching live times on the Race Hero app. She said none of the other TT cars went any faster, so we took the Sunday win and track record for the weekend. Hot damn! They had some champagne and trophies for Sunday class wins also (I guess $1200 entry fees pay for a lot!), but we rushed to load up all of our stuff in the garage, stuck the car in the trailer, and high tailed it outta Austin by 7 pm with rain starting to fall. We weren't a mile from the track when the skies UNLOADED and we slogged through one of the worst storms I've ever driven through.

Plenty of traffic heading north through construction so of course we had a trailer tire explode. It happened during a 10+ mile construction zone with no shoulders, right outside of Waco. Brand new tire, not a month old. GRR! I quickly dove into one small stretch of shoulder 100 feet long, stuffed the right side of the trailer almost in the dirt, then did a super fast tire change in the rain with traffic whizzing by. Super sketchy location with no way to exit back into busy high speed traffic without backing up and getting a spotter - it was on a curve with concrete barriers on both sides. Texas DPS pulled in behind me right as I finished the tire change (to our last spare!) and helped make a lane for Amy to pull the truck and trailer out into. Well its time for all new wheels AND a new brand of tires on this trailer, and two new spares.

Luckily the following Monday was a holiday for most folks (our shop was closed) and we got to catch up on some sleep before I headed in to catch up on work. Watched some of my laps, noted the massive traffic and blocking, but I've got to just realize that without the Friday test day I put myself in a bad spot by having to learn the track during competition. With a better Saturday TT Warm-Up time I could have moved up the grid ahead of the slower cars sooner, avoiding much of the traffic. Can't take any new track for granted - we have to learn them at a test day.

Amy (see above) had a lot of fun and was running her fastest times of the weekend right at the end. She was finally getting more seat time in this 330. Its hard to share a car that is also running in competition, because tires are a very finite, temperamental aspect. We really want to get her car (FRS) more track worthy and try to sell this 36' trailer and get a 2 car (44-48') for next year. We'll see. My DE1 student learned a TON and I got him a check ride for DE2, which he passed easily - probably ready for 3, but I won't rush him. Great racing, well run event, and other than the high temps, the weekend was a complete success. If they move NASA Nationals here.... man that would rock!!!

COTA Official Results: http://timingscoring.drivenasa.com/NASA_Texas_Region/2017- Official Results/May COTA/

The Sunday results are being contested in TT (one of the other class entries magically dropped 20 seconds in one session) but the Saturday results are up and our class results were not protested. This pair of class wins put us at 600 points for the year, and the next closest TTD racer is at 255 points. We'll run "D" at Hallett in late June and if we can continue our unbeaten streak and score two more wins (+200 total) that would put us far enough ahead in class mathematically to cinch the regional championship. We have some new 245mm Hoosiers coming that we won at COTA so at least we won't be on this dead set of tires any longer. Our E46 here isn't going to NASA Nationals East or West - two tracks I have never driven and that are super far away - so Hallett might be our last TTD event, then the car might jump up to TT4 soon after.


I've been hinting in this build thread about a possible move from TTD to TT4 for a while. The "TT-Number" classes are much more open and almost entirely P-to-W based (compared to the "dying or gone" TT-Letter classes). We'd need a big injection of power, a big drop in weight, or a bit of both to get from the 14.25:1 ratio of TTD to the 12:1 ratio of TT4. So we're working on both aspects now while still staying in TTD for one more event. TT4 allows us to have a splitter, wing, LSD, a max of a 275mm R7 tire, and more power (without chasing "mod points") so it is very enticing.

To get a head start on TT4 prep a lot is going on with our little E46 this week. I will cover this work next time but we have already added an AJ Hartman carbon fiber hood, AeroCatch hood latches, HARD Motorsport rear quarter Lexan windows, a Lexan rear window, aluminum rear bulkhead, dual fuel pump upgrade, and more. All of this is currently TTD legal, and we can easily ballast-up to meet the TTD weight, but these mods do help us get closer to TT4 later.

Our sister shop HPR race builds engines. Since I race with an M54B30 engine... and so few shops build these up... I've been pushing the guys to look at these a bit closer - with an eye towards a 300 whp engine. So last week we began tearing apart an M54 to look at what we can do to make that power level or beyond. Master engine builder Erik Koenig took a lot of measurements and ran a lot of numbers on this block & crank and we think there is a lot room for a "considerable amount of additional displacement" in this all-aluminum M54 engine - more than I have ever heard anyone reaching. I will talk more about this next time and over the summer as we explore the possibility of a more powerful M54 engine. If we don't like the costs or constraints within the block or head, we can always put a small displacement LS engine in this car (like a de-tuned 4.8L) to make the numbers we need. :)

Until next time - drive fast and take chances!

26 Posts
Thank you Terry for your informative posts as i have learned a ton from your vast knowledge. I wanted to comment on your Wider is Better wheel/tire rant.
I have done a few track days in my E70 X5 drive 3.0 with the Msport package. That gets you the same size tires as the real deal X5M 275/20 fr, 315/20 rr. It does things it should not do, largely because of these massive tires. Now if i could get those 315's on the front......

177 Posts
Discussion Starter · #73 ·
Project Update for July 17th, 2017: Since our last update in June our crew did a number of upgrades to the red 330, including a carbon fiber hood, Aerocatch hood latches, HARD Motorsport Lexan quarter rear windows, a Lexan back window, and a custom aluminum bulkhead for the trunk to cabin opening. We even show carbon fiber repair techniques this time.

These weight removal changes required us to add more ballast to stay within TTD class rules, but its all part of the planned move to TT4 later this year (where we can run less weight/more power/more aero). To reduce our fuel load reduce our fuel load requirements and fuel starvation issues in right hand turns we also performed a popular upgrade by adding a 2nd fuel pump. The driver's seat was also upgraded with a halo style racing seat. As predicted, the more "racey" the 330 gets the less "daily driver" friendly it becomes.

We took the 330 to the NASA Summer Shootout at Hallett and won all 3 Time Trial events over the weekend and set two new track records, which we will cover below. This brings our TTD track record total to 5 for the year in this car. This actually wasn't an easy weekend and we had some tight competition chasing us.

We will also cover more of the upgrades to "Operation Track Rat", an E46 328i sedan we bought a while ago. This update shows the suspension upgrades, brake upgrades and chassis reinforcement. This car recently sold but I will continue to share all of the work we did before this customer took ownership. I recently bought yet another E46 coupe that we're going to tinker with, to keep a steady stream of E46 cars coming into Vorshlag.

NOTE: We have closed down the thread on corner-carvers, as they don't want build threads posted by shop owners there anymore. Hope you found your way to this thread from another location.


Please suffer me this small tangent to explain how our 330 got a carbon hood. The E46M3 V8 monster track build we are building for a customer received a lot of AJ Hartman carbon fiber parts, including the roof panel and hood. The quality, weight, fit and finish were all exceptional.

But getting this sizable part from New Jersey to Texas proved to be a bumpy road and one hood was damaged in shipping. A second hood was sent for this M3 and got here in perfect shape. So we had one extra, damaged hood on hand. Hmm, what could we do with it? Shipping it back costs a lot of $$, and its always tough to sell a repaired carbon fiber part - the weave will never "look perfect" again.

Above is some tool (me) holding the AJ Hartman E46 carbon hood with one hand. I cannot do that with the stock steel hood on the 330, I assure you! This hood weighs 1/4 of the stock piece, and we needed to concentrate on front weight removal, so this might be the right mod for our red 330 right now.

44.5 pounds vs 9.5 pounds, so this would shed around 35 pounds. Weight saved over the front tires, and fairly high relative to the cg. Too good to pass up...


To be able to use this hood we needed to repair the shipping damage. Ryan used to work on carbon fiber race cars so he knew what materials to order. Carbon fiber fabric plus the epoxy resin and hardener to set it up. He also had me order some heavy gaffer tape, which was used to hold the outer shape of the repair during curing.

Now I've done fiberglass repair before but this was a little different. We aren't going to be painting this hood for a little while so we didn't want to do any bodywork on the repaired section just yet. The key to this repair was to get the repaired area on the outside to match the shape of the hood as much as possible.

The cracked section was cut back a bit to trim up the fibers at the break. This was so the cracked area would line back up - otherwise the pieces would try to mesh together at a funny angle. Patches of carbon fabric were cut in increasing widths, with the thinnest patch near the crack, then a wider one above that, for about 4 layers. The first batch of resin was mixed up in a disposable measuring cup.

The material pieces were soaked with the mixed resign, which was applied to the broken area in layers - thinnest, then wider, then widest on the outside. Some resin was brushed onto the hood section first, too. Gaffers tape was placed on top of the repaired area while it was still wet. Then some formed aluminum pieces (made beforehand) went on top of the gaffers tape, which acted as a press on both sides of the repair. Clamps were placed against the aluminum and it was allowed to cure for 6 hours.

The same repair was done at the end of the day on the outside surface of the hood. Resin, material, gaffer tape, aluminum plates, and clamps to give it pressure. Then that cured overnight.

Above left is the broken section repaired on the back side only. Above right is the finished repair with the outer patch completed, which was somewhat smooth. This area will be cleaned up with some bodywork before paint, but is functional and strong. With $80 in materials (and lots left over) and a couple of hours of work we salvaged a pretty busted up section of the carbon hood. Like all motorsports grade dry carbon parts it needs to be painted or wrapped, and we plan to paint this and some other panels on the car later this summer.

The hood was bolted on using the factory hinges and lift struts but you will notice the underside only has about half of the inner structure. The forward portions are omitted for weight reasons. This is meant for race cars, not street cars, and no provisions for the two forward factory latches were there.

Instead Ryan added two Aerocatch hood latches. Installing these takes a lot of measuring, careful cutting, some drilling, and patience.

Similarly the hood pin instillation is a bit harder than it looks. These have to be mounted at the precise location to line up with the hood latches, with the correct height and angles to align with the latching pin. The mounting holes were reinforced with TIG welded plates and the threaded fasteners for the pins have good anchors to hold against now. A small section of rubber hose act as adjustable hood height spacers, as well as a good cushion against the closing of the hood. Works great.

This is how the raw hood looks right out of the mold, with no clear coat, no heavy gel coat. So while I wasn't planning on buying this lightweight hood the shipping damage and repairs we did made it more affordable, and it will help us as we move this car to TT4 class. For now we'll have to add 35 pounds to the ballast rack in the trunk.


Back in the June 9th 2017 update I showed the first stages of mods to this 328i sedan, which is becoming a dual purpose street/track car.

As we've shown in this thread before the easiest brake upgrade to any E46 322/325/328 is an upgrade to the E46 330 front brakes, which are 1" larger diameter rotors. We had previously upgraded our 325Ci (the original #JackDaniels) to 330 front brakes and noticed quite a nice improvement. So when the red 330 (our TTD car) got an a front BBK upgrade to Powerbrake bits we took the fresh 330 rotors/Carbotech pads/330 calipers off the red car and donated them to the 328i here.

The Stoptech rotors and Carbotech pads were fresh and had only done 2 events on the 330 since new, so they went right on. The 330's calipers also looked fine, so those and the longer 330 caliper brackets were transferred over. The 328i got a full brake flush with Motul RBF600 and an upgrade to our 90mm wheel studs and lug nuts (I hate lug bolts!).

Right after this brake system upgrade it was time for suspension. Again, new parts we had briefly track tested on our red 330 were put to good use on this 328i, like the Bilstein PSS kit we had converted to 60mm coilovers.

"Waste not, want not" - these very same Bilsteins had been on the red 330 for the first 3 track weekends and still looked brand new. We had robbed the camber plates and spherical rear shock mounts so those were replaced with new Vorshlag bits on this 328i. We re-used the Hyperco 60mm coilover springs (450F/550R) and the modified Bilstein rear ride height adjustable platforms from the red 330, too.

There is always the Achilles Heel of the E46 to fix: the rear subframe mounts at the chassis. As we have discussed before, these can crack easily on any E46 car and must be reinforced for all street and track cars. Without these reinforcements an E46 is hard to sell; with them done correctly the value goes way up.

We break in all new fabricators who start at Vorshlag on an E46 rear reinforcement job. Its dirty, nasty work and requires hours of overhead wrenching and TIG welding.

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177 Posts
Discussion Starter · #74 ·
continued from above

We let them do their first one on shop owned cars - because the hours can run long on your first attempt. If they can pull this off without complaint and their welds look good, they usually work out. ;)

With the subframe out we always replace the sloppy rubber bushings with poly or aluminum. This car got Powerflex Black race polyurethane in the 4 subframe mounts and two front and one rear differential mounts. No more slop to wreck havoc on the rear sheet metal.

Once the rear subframe was all buttoned up in the car the front control arms were replaced. The front lower control arm bushings at the "lollipop" were replaced with Powerflex 2-piece race poly bushings as well. We always drill and tap the housings for grease zerks and drill thru the outer part of the 2-piece bushing to allow grease to get to the inner joint. That wraps up the brakes, suspension and subframe reinforcement - we will show more work on the 328i next time.


We showed the welded custom 4-point roll bar in the red 330 back in a previous update to this thread. I have been very happy with the fit and rigidity of this 1.75" x .095" wall DOM tubing structure.

When we remove the back seat and add a roll bar like this there is an open hole left to the trunk. If we had a fuel cell mounted in the trunk there would NEED to be a metal firewall added close off the fuel tank from the passenger cabin. Of course the E46 has the stock fuel tank under the back seat floor section, so a metal barrier already exists. I noticed a lot more road noise (and a clunk we later traced down) with the back seat out, so I asked our guys to build an aluminum bulkhead - to quiet this noise and make the car look more finished.

Ryan usually does these sheet metal jobs and as usual he made this task look easy - which it isn't. He started by making templates from heavy craft paper, which were then transferred to .080" thick 3003 aluminum sheet. This structure is made in 3 pieces - an upper shelf, then a 2-piece vertal panel that fit around the rear down bars of the 4-point roll bar.

These were cut, bent, and drilled for mounting hardware. The panels were designed to work with bolts and threaded inserts (see below right) - but in this step the familiar Cleco fasteners were used during construction.

Now since we weren't building an air tight firewall the panels were fitted close to the roll bar tubes but this will still help keep fluids and gases out of the cabin from the trunk - whatever those might be.

As you can see the rear window was out to gain access to make this series of panels. With a coupe of coats of semi-flat black paint (to minimize glare in the back window) the final panels were bolted in place using a number of stainless button head bolts and M5 threaded inserts added to the chassis. Very happy with the finished panels, looks great.


In an effort to remove more weight and to test out some additional parts from the vendors we work with, I ordered the HARD Motorsport rear quarter windows and a Lexan rear window from 5 Star Bodies. I didn't weigh the factory rear glass or the replacement panel, which was a silly mistake.

The back window was fitted to the car, holes were drilled for hardware, then the border was masked off and painted semi-flat black.

The border has to be taped off and masked. Taking your time here makes a big difference in the final look. The holes in the rear window frame had M5 threaded inserts added, but the painted border on the Lexan panel covers up these areas and the body colored sections you might otherwise see.

A bead of black weatherstrip adhesive was laid down before the Lexan was put in place. Countersunk stainless M5 bolts went in above countersunk Tinnerman stainless washers were inserted into the holes drilled in the Lexan to make for a flush mounted hardware installation. Now it was time for the rear quarter windows. This car also had a bad OEM rear actuator for the stock glass windows (these weigh .5 pounds each).

The glass pieces weighed 11.2 pounds for the pair with the actuators, the Lexan added up to 3.6 pounds, so it isn't huge savings potential but it all adds up. These come with a cut vinyl border so you don't have to mask and paint them like we did the back window.

The OEM pieces were easy to remove - a few bolts on the front edge hinges and then the actuators which also unbolt. Then the weatherstrip gasket was pulled out of the channel.

The mounting brackets and hardware that came with the HARD kit made the install very easy. We save over 7.5 pounds with the Lexan side quarter windows. I am extrapolating (uh-oh!) that to the rear glass to Lexan upgrade to be closer to 15+ more pounds dropped, since we threw out the old glass and didn't weigh those bits...

50 additional pounds of ballast was added to the trunk to get the 330 up to the weight we wanted, which is 25 pounds over the 3205 pound number we are claiming in TTD class (we are burning 6 class points to dip 80 pounds under the 3285 pound class minimum for this car). This is with a 1/2 tank of fuel and the 210 pound driver in place. This made for 51.2% front weight bias, which is the best we've seen in this car since the beginning.


The factory plastic fuel tank assembly for the E46 chassis is a "dual saddle" design, shown below. This is how many modern sports sedans and coupes run their fuel tank (our 2011 Mustang had a nearly identical design). It puts the fuel under the floor sheet metal, usually under the back seat. It straddles the driveshaft and exhaust with a raised center portion. Fuel is usually fed from one side by an in-tank fuel pump but there is usually a feed tube that goes to the other side, fed by a jet pump or vacuum. The E46 fuel pump (with a level sender) is on the right side and a second fuel level sender is on the left side. The two level senders "average" the readings to send to the fuel level gauge on the dash.

Most of the road courses we frequent are built to be run in a Counter Clock Wise direction, a layout which produces mostly left hand turns. These turns push the fuel into the right side saddle, which helps to keep the E46's fuel pump pickup covered in fuel. Right turns would slosh the fuel load into the left side saddle, possibly uncovering the fuel pump pickup....

Fuel starve on right turns in this car has been noted at some tracks but hasn't been a huge issue in this car until we ran COTA, which had one massive right hand turn. Turns T16-T18 are linked to make for a fast, 4th gear, flat out right-hander that would starve the fuel pump on anything less than 3/4 tank in our 330. Running 3/4+ tank is a LOT of fuel, which we could "just run as ballast" but we are trying to get weight down for the next class. It was time to tackle this right hand fuel starve issue.

There are numerous kits sold by various shops for a "dual fuel pump" upgrade, where the left side fuel level sender is replaced with a 2nd fuel pump which has another integral float and level sending unit. We looked at the options and decided we could make a better kit for less. The pictures above show the fuel sender and jet pump on the left side and the other round port is where the fuel pump resides, in the right side saddle portion of the tank.

Now one thing we noticed when Aaron had the factory sender and jet pump line (internal crossover hose) out of the car was that the feed line to the "pump side" of the tank was kinked, hard. Maybe we just had a restriction in the factory bits? But so many other BMW owners complain of the same issue that this couldn't be just a kinked line affecting this car. So we moved ahead with the second fuel pump addition - and this kinked hose was replaced in the swap..

Wiring in the second pump was fairly straightforward but plumbing it took some new lines and a custom adapter fitting. This was machined from aluminum and allowed a connection with some crimped Oetiker hose clamps for the feed line. I'm not exactly sure how other dual fuel pump kits do this, but this made the most sense to us. Both fuel pump feed lines were connected via a "Y" and feed the main supply line running to the fuel rail.

This feed line is then routed over to the other saddle, under the floor, as shown above left. An internal crossover for the return was made inside the tank using submersible fuel line - specially made so the outer jacket is impervious to continuous submersion in fuel (which makes it damned expensive). With the two steel access covers bolted in place (above right) it is all secured under metal bulkheads. With 1/2 tank of fuel verified visually before buttoning this all up we were set to test this at Hallett, which has some fast right-handers on the CCW course and where the entire course would be run CW for one session Sunday...

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177 Posts
Discussion Starter · #75 ·
continued from above


The stock seats that came in the E46 330 look a bit "sporty" but in reality they are terrible. Downright scary on track, especially once you have real race tires and race suspension. We yanked these heavy bastards out early in this build (and they went into the 325Ci "JackDaniels").

We have been racing this 330 with a COBRA Suzuka GT width driver's seat for the past season and a half. This is a great seat which we have used in multiple shop cars over the years. This Kevlar composite 1-piece FIA racing seat has higher leg bolsters than the Sparco EVO II seat that is on the passenger side. These hold your legs better in cornering but make for a higher "step over" when getting in or out. It makes it more challenging to use in a daily driver, but it is a better racing seat because of it.

I like COBRA seats but in the last year we have setup a better relationship with Sparco, and have begun stocking and selling more of their seats. The Sparco EVO line of seats (they make a total of 4 versions... EVO I, II, II US, and III) are very popular and probably comprise 80% of our sales. The E46 M3 SMG below got a pair of EVO IIs for dual purpose street/track use.

Since we had no seat in the right side of our 330 for a while I decided to add a a Sparco EVO II there. Since this 330 stays at our shop I can let customers who stop by test sit in our 330 in this seat.

We ran our 330 with the COBRA on the driver's side and the OEM seat on the passenger side for a while. Then we pulled the heavy passenger seat out to try to make weight, and ran it with just one seat for a while. For the last ~6 months or so it has had this Sparco EVO II on the passenger side using a fixed mounting bracket (no slider). It is more than adequate for the occasional passenger - I usually take my HPDE students, friends, customers, or Amy for ride-alongs. And I've ridden in this right side seat with Amy driving many times, too. Works great.

As the #DailyDrivenTrackCar E46 becomes more "racey" with Lexan, Carbon Fiber, and an offroad-only exhaust, we have been increasing safety to match the speed of the entire package. The 4-point roll bar ("half cage") was added, and while technically suitable for a dual purpose car, this is one of those things that cannot be un-done easily. These things are all adding up to make this into a race car, and I'm OK with that. That means some aspects of street driving naturally get compromised.

One thing we just added that really is not appropriate for a street car is the halo-style Sparco racing seat on the driver's side. This Circuit II seat helps prevent neck and head injuries in a side impact with this massive chunk of seat surrounding your head. The Sparco Circuit also has very high leg bolsters, for leg protection, like the Cobra Suzuka.

Compared to the Cobra and EVO II (above left), the Circuit II (above right) weighs about 3 pounds heavier. Of course we weighed them, who do you think this is???

I've been keeping 2+ Circuit II seats in my lobby because they are going into more and more race cars. I've sat in these 4 Sparco seats dozens of times and the Circuit II just fits me best. The Pro2000 is a good alternative to the Suzuka, with better hip/leg bolsters than the EVO line. Between the Pro-ADV and Circuit, the head halo comes inches higher on my head on the Circuit. The seat fits my frame and we decided to pull the Cobra driver's seat and add the wider "II" version on a new, stronger slider & bracket assembly.

Last year when we first installed the Cobra driver's seat I had Olof make a super low profile bracket and trimmed the carpet around the factory floor mount structures. With the stock headliner and sunroof in the car I needed every possible inch of headroom. Some of you criticized this bracket and it wasn't as rigid as I like, so we built an all new bracket using much thicker materials this time.

This chassis bracket is built with 1x2" rectangular tubing and angle iron and is about an inch taller than the original. With the retracting sunroof and headliner removed height is no longer an issue and at the new seat height Amy can finally see over the dash. We uses the same Cobra dual locking slider and modified OMP side brackets. The old chassis bracket was light and thin, whereas the new bracket is beefy and could kill a man if you swung it at his head. Unsurprisingly the new bracket keeps the seat more rigid in the car.

The Circuit II is the Kim Kardashian of racing seats, with a much more curved bottom (see below left). This is why I fit better in this seat than the PRO-ADV, which visually has the same height as the Circuit II but a flat bottom. Mounting this Circuit II required some adjustment in the side brackets - which we did after I ran the car at Hallett - to get the seat height correct for me. Since this seat was added about an hour before we left for the race, I ran it at Hallett sitting a bit too high for my liking - but it was still a great fitting seat.

Now that we had a few more minutes to modify the side brackets and change the mounting holes, it is adjusted better to my torso height and I can't wait to get back on track with this seat. The slider is super smooth and locks positively.

We left the OEM 3-point seat belt anchor off of this set of brackets, and that along with the halo seat's natural blind spots make street driving a thing of the past. #BecauseRacecar The car still has a steering wheel airbag, steering wheel radio controls, a radio and front speakers, and an ice cold AC. Some tough decisions lie ahead for this red 330.


Before we loaded up the car to tow to Hallett we had the car on the lift for a quick pre-track check-up. We pulled the wheels, checked the brake pads, caliper temp strips and rotor tamp paint.

The Powerbrake PB23 compound pads that came in our "large 4 piston" front Powerbrake upgrade kit seem to be lasting an insanely long time. after 14 months and countless laps the Powerbrake front pads are still 3/4 depth! Its crazy - I abuse these brakes, and they are wearing very well. I'm used to replacing pads every 3-4 weekends, but it might be every 2 years at this rate.

Even the rear pads seemed to be wearing better than expected. Maybe with the massive upgrade to the front brakes it took some work/wear off the rears. And even through we won some tires at COTA, we only won 2 total, so the existing tire set was examined and looked OK to run one more time at Hallett.

With the large number of "little upgrades" and the car checked out by our staff I felt confident in the upcoming Hallett Race. There were 5 signed up in TTD so I was hoping the class might "make" - but many were strangers from outside of our region so I had no idea if there were some new folks that could challenge us.

With the car and gear loaded into the trailer, Amy drove us out of Dallas around 4 PM on Friday for the 4-5 hour tow to the hotel in Tulsa Oklahoma, about 40 minutes from the track. We would blast out to the track early the next morning to unhook, unload, and get to grid.


Hallett opens the gate early, but to get into the paddock area you have to crossover the track surface, so they close the track by 7:30 am and you would have to wait to enter between sessions after that - sometimes for as long as an hour. Yea they need a bridge or a tunnel, but it has worked for 30+ years this way.

The track is built in a way that it can be run in both directions, but predominantly they run it CCW. And NASA runs it this way for the racers, HPDE and TT groups - except for the last sessions on Sunday for HPDE and TT. Oddly enough NASA Texas Region counts the last ClockWise session as a separate event, and track records can be set in this one and only session. They do it as a way to get people to stick around for the last Sunday session, but points is points and track records are my favorite thing, so we ALWAYS stick around.

I've set track records at the 2013 and 2014 NASA Summer Shootout in our red Mustang above. Some folks are intimidated by one particular corner, T9, which is called "the Bitch". A number of cars have had big shunts there, but I love that corner and always seem to be caching competitors there. I'm on/off the gas and brake 3 times entering T7/T8/T9, usually jumping two different curbs on the entry. We always come away from this NASA Hallett event very pleased with this track - the lush green rolling hills, the elevation changes (which we don't see much in Texas), and the amazing track officials and photographer Tim - he always takes great shots! I bought the photo CD from this event like I do every year. If you see a non-watermarked pic in this post, it's from him.


Saturday we got to the track and quickly unloaded the car, setup the camera and lap timer, and installed the AMB transponder. Tire pressures were 28psi cold all around to start shooting for 33F/32R hot. The Time Trial group started with a meeting, and we had a large number of folks there. So I figured TT would be a mad house of traffic with only 1.8 miles of track.

Event Photo Gallery: https://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-Events/NASA-at-Hallett-June-24-25-2017/

And sure enough, traffic in the TT warmup session was a hot mess and I only ran a 1:29.1, stuck in a lot of traffic (I'm used to 1:21 times here in the Mustang). That time at least moved me up to 11th on the grid out of 26 that made it to this session. I had a TTD competitor that was close on my heels with a 1:29.5 in a white Acura Integra Type R. Ambient temp was a low 73°F, which is crazy for late June in the south, so we were loving it.

In TT session 1 the temps dropped to 71°F ambient, and my times dropped down to a 1:27.983. The whole time I was fighting to get a clear lap inside of a huge a pack of TTC S2000s. That was the fastest TT session of the day - but I still felt like I had more in the car. The white Integra popped off a 1:28.108 in that session - whoa!

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177 Posts
Discussion Starter · #76 · (Edited)
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That margin was too close for comfort so I lined up for TT session 2, where temps had crawled up to 82°F. Once again had to fight for track space with faster cars ahead of me that were holding me up in all of the braking zones and into T9. All I could muster was a 1:28.032 in the ever increasing heat. The TTD Integra slowed down to a 1:29.904 best lap, which was a big drop off for him.

There was still less than a tenth of a second between us, so I went ahead and ran the last TT session of the day Saturday in fairly hot conditions (86°F), not expecting much improvement - but the competition was too tight to sit this one out! I found a break in traffic and on lap 4 ran off a 1:27.950 for Saturday's best. It was only .027 sec quicker than my TT session 1 time but good enough for the win and a new TTD track record.

I walked the paddock to go look at this Integra Type R but couldn't find him, so I figured I'd look again on Sunday. TT competitors can ask to see other TT racers' classing sheets - and I just wanted to take a peek and see where his points were spent. Having never seen an Integra run competitively in TT before I was just curious. :) We had four TTD cars run during the day but one got DSQ'd in the Warm-up, so only 3 on the class results at the end of the day - which meant "no tire payout" for the win once again.

Overall the car did well that day, just needed more horsepower to get some passes done. The only good place I found to pass was under braking into T2, which is a fast downhill braking zone. But if you pass there it throws you offline for T3 and you lose a lot of momentum going up the hill into T4 so it blows the lap. All day I was picking off TTC, TT3 and even TT1 cars in the early laps where I could, trying to move up the grid. Inevitably some of those folks would put in a flier at the end of a session and sneak past me on grid the next time. Frustrating being down on power.

Even with only 86°F showing it was hot and humid at the end of the day and Amy and I both needed to cool down. There was a "paddock crawl" party and even fireworks, mostly attended by folks camping at the track. Since we had a hotel with air conditioning 40 minutes away we jetted back to there, cleaned up, and had a nice meal downtown instead.


Sunday we got to the track right before they closed the gates at 8 am, whew. We had 3 sessions to get our best lap in on the 1.8 mile CCW circuit. I got to grid and began looking for the white TTD Integra. He never showed, hmm? Even with lots of traffic I went out and ran a 1:27.592 in the first session, taking 7 laps looking for a clear track. It was 79°F but temps were climbing fast after this session.


In the video above from this session I can see many driving mistakes, especially my line into T4 and entering T5. Hindsight is 20-20 and all but even at the time I knew I was butchering the late apex at T4. Just couldn't get my brain to turn in later on this uphill, blind, off camber corner. Frustrating, but I still found nearly 1/2 a second from my best times Saturday - which is what the AiM predictive lap timer kept telling me I could run.

I went out in TT session 2 but it was getting hotter (82°F) and the tires were getting greasy quickly. There was no traffic and I ran my best lap of the session (1:28.274) on my first lap, with times steadily slowing down after. I also ran a few laps in the HPDE 4 session that followed taking Jeremy W for a ride-along, running some 1:29.1 fun laps.

Nobody was dropping time, so I skipped TT session 3 when it was getting into the low 90°F range - and everyone slowed way down. The fuel starve issue was as bad as ever and if the fuel load was anywhere near 1/2 tank it would fuel starve in T9, the long right-hander. Meanwhile one of our E46 M3 suspension customers Dennis Clevette (below) won the TT3 class and reset the lap record to a 1:20.385 - Nicely done.

My lap in my first session CCW lap was enough to win the 3 car TTD the class by 7 seconds, with a new TTD/PTD Miata competitor joining the fray for Sunday (the Type R never showed up). I was saving what was left of this ragged set of tires for TT session 4 - our only ClockWise session of the weekend. I've only run this CW course twice - in the last session of the 2013 and 2014 NASA events.


This last session was damn hot but since it was worth another 100 points and a potential track record I was going to run it. To complicate matters many of the Houston and Austin NASA officials were leaving a bit early to get a jump on the 7-9+ hour drives home they had. Our TT director asked me to step in and run that session.

So I got to grid and talked to all 10 of the TT drivers, giving out copies of the map and showing folks who had never run this way where we needed to "bunch up" and "go green" on the out lap. I also tried to show people where to watch out, brake early, and not to mess up (T3 entry done wrong will put you across the track outside of T2!). Amy and I then filled up the 330 with the very last of our Texas 93 octane fuel we brought, for 3/4 tank indicated. This is the fuel load that worked on the CCW course without starving so far. I felt like the car would be fine even with all of these right-handers...

Since I was helping folks on grid I was the last driver to get belted into their car, HANS linked up, gloved up, timer turned on, vidcam started, etc. I waved the field by while I was getting strapped in and caught the back of the field on the out lap, bringing up the rear. Even with only 10 cars running this CW session I had a LOT of traffic to get through and I spent the entire session trying to find a clear lap. And fuel.

The fuel starve issue was HORRIBLE running ClockWise, even with 3/4 tank! It fuel starved on Every. Single. Corner. My best lap came on lap 7 of 7 with a pitiful 1:31.158, fuel starving its guts out, short shifting, and making 2 passes on that lap. Driven well and without all of these other issues the CW direction should only be about 1 second slower, not 3.5. Still that was good enough for another TTD win (+100 points) and another track record. The lap is so bad I'm not even posting it, yuck. Obviously we need to revisit the fuel system setup.

To help fill in for the HPDE group leader, I came back into the grid area after my last TT lap, quickly parked under a tree, jumped out then helped get the last session HPDE drivers (also their only CW session of the weekend) up to speed, passing out the maps and telling them what to look for on this course run in this unusual direction. Once they got going on track I checked the results and noticed that of the 7 TT track records reset this weekend our little 330 set 2 of them. :) The old CCW TTD record was a 1:28.6 and the old CW record was a 1:36.6, so we reset them both by enough. Our TTD times were pretty far off the new TTC records set by Wallace, but that's been his M.O. all year - obliterating the old TTC records in his dyno-reclassed S2000 (below left).

By the time I got back to our trailer, parked by the pond at the back of the paddock near T9 (above right), the heat was pretty brutal and Amy had overheated a bit (she took pics and helped me in the car all weekend, but didn't drive any sessions). We loaded up the E46 and hit the road soon after, with 3 wins and 2 new track records under our belt.

Jamie Beck's ST3 classed Mustang did well on Saturday scoring two 1st place finishes. In Sunday morning practice 3rd gear on his second Getrag MT-82 transmission broke, but he could still run the whole course in 4th. He still managed to score two 2nd place finishes in the next two races, putting him in the points lead for the season. We have a T56 Magnum XL being built now that we will install in this car soon.

The recently added cool suit / cooler / controller we added to his Mustang worked perfectly, even with the CoolShirt "vest" he ordered from us. With as bad as the heat has been affecting me lately I need to get one of these setups. Oddly enough the high temps at Hallett didn't kill me this time, but I also wasn't doing double duty with instructing and racing.

While at Hallett I looked at a friend's 48' aluminum gooseneck trailer and fell in love. It has a generator, air con, queen sized bed, room for two cars - gotta step up to one of these some day. My 36' trailer is now for sale...


Obviously we need to take another look at the dual fuel pump "upgrade" and see if we routed something wrong or if this is just normal when you corner at 1.3g lateral. If we find a flaw on our layout we have a test event coming up where we can check with various fuel levels. If not it might be time for an external surge tank/pump setup, like the LS1 powered E36 M3 (see below) we are plumbing now.

A fellow TT competitor was chatting with us in our paddock and noticed two small issues at the Hallett event - a ground strap had broken and the Mishi air filter had started rubbing the radiator support. Not much of a concern, and I did some quick paddock repairs for that weekend, but I'll show the real fixes for these two items next time.

There's a good long break before the next NASA event, which isn't until late September at TWS (either on the regular 2.9 mile CCW course or this 1.8 mile abomination they are threatening to make us use). This break is done because Texas summers are damned hot and it will be 90-100°F for the next 2 months. People get heat stroke racing in those conditions. We'll spend that time working on our little E46 building it for TT4, of course. I'll try to show another update here before that event. There are some other big surprises in the works as well. Stay tuned!


177 Posts
Discussion Starter · #77 ·
Project update for October 3rd, 2017: I am way behind updating build threads; I need to do about 5 other project updates but I am going to try to do a quick update here. We had a busy summer, which pushed back some work my red TTD prepped 330, but we finally did some upgrades in mid September.

Not only did the front bodywork and aero completely change on the red TTD 330 (above), we completed and sold two of the other E46 cars we have been chronicling in this thread: the 325Ci "Jack Daniels" coupe and the Track Rat 328i sedan (below). This time I will show the final round of work on JD and the 2nd round on the silver 328.

We also picked up another E46 coupe, this black 2003 below. We are just now starting to work on repairing the "little things" to create another "reliable daily driver" for Amy and I to use while some of our other cars are in the shop for upgrades.

I won't talk about the black 325 Coupe above this time, but I will cover work to these other three E46 projects in this post - plus one NASA race weekend - while trying to keep it as brief as possible.


This little "whiskey dented" E46 Coupe E46 started this whole build thread, which we named Jack Daniels. It needed a lot of repairs - too many to count - and I lost money on this car due to the purchase price + parts costs alone. I quit counting hours long ago, because it was ugly.

Learned I should have learned long ago - no matter how cheap a car seems up front, starting with a high mileage car coupled with excessive repair costs can bury a project into a money loser right from the beginning. This car needed everything when we bought it with 200K miles: interior work, body work, paint work, suspension work, gaskets/leak fixes, clean-up work, entire cooling system, headlights, and all of the normal things that can plague any high mileage E46.

Even with a shop that specializes in BMWs, and friends in the industry hooking us up on things like PDR repairs, and wholesale pricing on repair parts, I really blew the budget on this one. I won't say how many thousands I lost on this build, but it was enough to notice.

In the end we really cleaned up this little 325 Coupe, and made somebody a nice daily driver that they got with pretty much everything touched or repaired. It had some upgrades that we did when this was going to be our TTD build - the 330 front brakes, Powerflex bushings, etc - and Amy used this is a daily driver off and on for 2 years.

I had people who read this thread that kept calling to try to buy this car for months, but I kept finding things I wasn't happy with and wanted it to leave my shop only when I felt it was "right". So when I drove it recently and felt the rear diff bushing slop, I had our new tech, Aaron, install Powerflex poly diff bushings in all 3 locations (see above). The OEM rubber is just so soft and cracked that this will give whoever buys it less trouble back there.

One nagging thing that kept bugging me was the flaky fuel level gauge. It would only read "full" for a few miles after you topped off the tank, then it would ready empty for 3/4 of the gauge sweep. There are TWO fuel level senders and I ordered the primary one that comes with the new fuel pump, shown above. Our crew swapped that assembly in and it fixed the gauge, whew. Notice also: no more dash lights! We only put 7,000 miles on this car in 2 years, but whenever its logged over 200K it still kills the resale value.

The leather seats (which came from my red 2001 330Ci) needed a bit of work and Brad used LEXOL conditioner to clean and condition the fronts as well as the rear seats. The car was then washed, detailed, vacuumed - cleaner than it ever was while in our possession. I finally felt good about letting this one leave and let the next guy that called have it for a decent price.

When it was time to deliver it to the new buyer he ended up with a lot of repaired systems and a clean, reliable car that is fun to drive for not a lot of money. It won't win any car shows but it should put in many thousands of street miles without too much trouble. It might become the basis for his next WRL endurance race car build in the next few years also. #LongLiveJackDaniels


I have talked about the silver Track Rat build in the past. This was a 1999 BMW 328i sedan we bought a while back for another purpose (endurance racing), but when priorities changed I just used this car to fill time in the schedule when our techs weren't on billable work. Which is rare, but still. Last time I showed the 330 front brake upgrade to this car, the Bilstein coilover suspension install, rear subframe reinforcement and bushing upgrades done in late 2016. Let's cover another round of work that happened in 2017: the interior.


Our crew that started tearing this car apart one weekend (when I wasn't here), to make it into an endurance race car, literally ripped apart and threw away perfectly good interior panels and seats. When we aborted that plan and I decided to make this into a dual purpose street/track car to sell, we needed to keep the windows. Question: how do we cover the door openings on the inside? Answer: fabricate all the things!

Ryan made some 3D aluminum door panels that tied into the felts at the top and bolt to the doors around the perimeter. These were a little tricky to make and no, we won't likely make a production version. The C shaped cut-out at the front is to clear the dash. The "bump" out of the upper section is to clear the power window motor.

The seats were tossed during the interior removal, too. We stock a lot of race seats here so I had Ryan build brackets and a slider to hold the Sparco Circuit II on the driver's side. Notice how ugly the naked transmission tunnel looks, above?

I got stuck with this unusual and LARGE Momo FIA seat shown above when it didn't fit into a customer's Miata. Plenty of room for wider seats in an E46, so it went into the Track Rat. It uses a fixed mount and fits virtually anyone on the passenger side.

The center console was thrown out also - along with ALL of the window switches, DSC switch, hazard switch, etc. This made me "less than happy" so I had one of our techs make a new center console. It wasn't exactly a fabrication masterpiece but it does the job. Again, this was back when it was just another car we had and I was trying to get it into shape to sell.

The missing switches were purchased (GRR!) and then holes were made to mount them into this aluminum console towards the end of the build. This way the hazards worked, windows rolled up and down, etc. The early E46 uses a DSC button that is different than the late cars... so this was purchased and installed as well (see below). Way too many hours tied up into this aluminum console - if you want to keep it JUST USE THE OEM PLASTICS instead.

The carpets were gone and with that a lot of padding that covers up a funky floorpan shape and lots of big wiring bundles.

To cover up the "non-flat" floor and hide the wires a pair of "false floors" were built from aluminum sheet. Underneath is a lot of structure to keep them from buckling under the weight of a driver's legs, which is not shown. A custom "Dead pedal" foot rest was added along with some "Grip tape" (above) to keep your shoes from sliding around on the floors when wet.

I don't like installing fixed back racing seats into a car without at least a 4-point roll bar. A bolt-in kit was ordered from Kirk Racing, and it shipped in on a flat pallet in pieces. Ryan fitted the roll bar structure to the chassis, tack welded the rear down tubes in place in the car, then removed it to final weld these joints.

The welded assembly was powder coated in a "textured black", then it was bolted into the car. Even the reinforcing backing plates were powder coated before installation. All in all it fits pretty well, with a gap to the roof and B-pillars that allows for this to be installed with a headliner and interior panels. Great place to hang harnesses from...

Well it turns out when you are building a car "on speculation" of selling it, you probably shouldn't install racing seats and assume it will fit the buyer. The Circuit II wasn't the right seat but we had an EVO III in stock that fit him perfectly. This was installed into the Track Rat and the new Circuit II that was in there went into my red 330, which I showed in the last installment. A pair of new Schroth Profi-II 6-point harnesses went in to wrap up the safety/interior bits.

A bit of PDR was done early on in this build to remove some dings and a "wrinkle" in one door panel. Kris did a great job and made this car look pretty sharp - it had good paint, just needed a little massaging.

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177 Posts
Discussion Starter · #78 ·
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Next time I will show the upgrades the customer asked for after he purchased the car. It now looks like this, above. We have since tackled the wider wheels/tires, flares, 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. This car has already seen track use and the owner loves it. He can drive to the track with cold air and windows up, then get there and let 'er rip. It turned into a more dedicated track car interior, and a better dual purpose build than even our 330...


In the last installment we showed a carbon hood upgrade and new seat on the red 330, so it was a bit lighter than before. We had to add back some ballast (which came out when we put in the 4-point roll bar) to meet the 3205 lb weight we were claiming with driver (I had crept up to 217 lbs in the spring, yikes). That 3205 number is 80 lbs under the "base class" weight of 3285, so we have been burning +6 TTD class points to take this 80 lb drop all season. This was because we couldn't figure out exactly what to do with those points...

The 330 did well enough at Hallett in June (2 wins + track record) but we had some really close TTD competition (Acura ITR). Being so far under the TTD class / build "theoretical power" max of 244 whp (at 3285 pounds) is hurting it's competitiveness (only making 216 whp with header, exhaust, CAI, stock tune). A 28 hp power deficit is huge, but we didn't have any points left to make the stock M54 engine substantially more powerful, legally. We were also hitting a brick wall with the BMWeditior software (more on that below) and finding someone locally to tune it to maybe find another ~10-15 whp wasn't panning out. Even "tuned" we could still be 20+ hp short of the class/build max. So what is left that we attack to make the car faster for TTD, that can also apply to TT4 class next year? (TTD is going away)

Downforce! To go faster in the corners we need some help from the air, and we have been wanting to add a wing + air dam + splitter to this 330 build since the very beginning. Aero upgrades helped us find a lot of lap time in our TT3 Mustang, but when the "powers above" inexplicably pulled 7 points from the "E46 330" listing in Jan 2016 (the TTE -> TTE* fiasco) it crushed most of my "aero dreams". We spent every classing point carefully, but with only 6 points left (assuming we ballasted up to 3285 lbs) we could only do a few things with aero, and none of it was "balanced":

TTD legal Aero additions, shown with class points
Wing = +4
Air dam = +3
Splitter = +3
Front fascia change = +3 (aka: air dam)
Canards/Winglets = +2 (not legal for TT4)
Flat front flat undertray = +0 (from front centerline to front lip)
Rear Diffuser = +3 (not legal for TT4)
Vented hood / CAI = +1 (already are claiming with CAI)

Jason and I brainstormed this part of the TTd build over many lunches for the last two years and could not come up with an aero combination that used all 6 points we had left and could give the car more balanced front/rear downforce potential. I briefly thought about a CRAZY multi-element canard/winglet setup (+2) with a flat undertray (+0) front aero package with a rear wing (+4). The rules poorly define any limits for canards/winglets, especially as to their numbers/square footage/shapes. That craziness might have worked for one event, but then a rules rewrite would have shut that down. And with a planned move to TT4 for 2018, canards/winglets are not legal there. So this would be a lot of weird front aero that could be used for a very time period, maybe not even a full weekend of TT racing.

We also tried to rationalize taking off some mods (brakes, suspension, etc) to "get some points back" for more aero potential, but everything on the 330 now serves a purpose: to test/prove a new part or brand, to make the car faster, and/or make it easier to drive. Nothing there we could afford to lose was worth enough points to sneak in a wing + air dam + splitter. So for now we compromised and pushed for all 6 points to be used on an air dam/front fascia (+3) and full splitter (+3) instead - which could also be used later in TT4. I had picked up a number of these E46 M3 bumper covers a while back and they fit the E46 coupe perfectly. Even the HARD flares fit up to it without modifications. The original 330 nose was also pretty beat up, as pointed out by the #JankyStick above. The M3 nose had better brake inlet duct support, a larger lower grill opening, and a "more flat" lower edge for a splitter. It also looked a lot better.

Mounting an aftermarket bumper cover to an E46 could be easier than what we did here, but I wanted to go with with a custom front bumper beam - just like we did on the E46 M3 CSL V8. It is both legal and strong and would probably be lighter, yet loses the "5 mph" bumper shock design. I figured if I hit something on track, its gonna be at a lot more than 5 mph. Aaron used a tubing roller and curved a piece of 1.75" dia DOM tubing, then made some bolt-on brackets and stand-offs, to place the curved beam under the new M3 nose.

Maybe we could have tweaked/modified/forced the OEM E46 bumper beam & 5 mph collapsible bumper struts to fit with this aftermarket M3 nose, but I wanted something stronger and lighter, so this tubular setup was my decision. A raised sheet metal bracket along the middle of the curved beam has a flat mounting face that the bumper cover bolts to, with the recessed stainless mounting hardware hidden behind the hood/grill. Dimple dies keep this bracket light, and two more "loops" of thin sheet metal touch the underside of the bumper cover out on the ends, giving it additional support.

The bumper cover and beam assembly were on and off the car many times for mock-up. The goal was a cleaner fit, so it was not rushed. I wanted this new nose to look good (after it is painted) and have tight body lines when completed. After it was tacked up the beam assembly was removed and finish TIG welded on the bench.

A new OEM plastic/rubber front "radiator inlet snorkel" from an E46 M3 was ordered and installed, replacing the fresh E46 330 snorkel we had put on last year. This plastic piece seals the openings from the two "nostril" grills and lower "mouth" grill of the M3 nose onto the face of the radiator - directing air through the core. Since air wants to take the path of least resistance, without this air snorkel you would lose a lot of inlet airflow around the radiator core. The OEM engineers do a great job of making these inlet boxes have smooth lines, proper angles, and good seal, and it was much easier to buy this $153 part than make it from scratch. We often make these calculations to see when it makes more sense to buy something than to fabricate it - because time is money, for everyone, always. #BoughtNotBuilt

By that same logic, Why not just buy a splitter kit? Guys like AJ Hartman make a beautiful carbon unit that fits this E46 M3 nose. The answer for us was that none of the worthwhile, pre-made splitters fit our class rules, especially the "new-for-2017" TT4 rules. Off the shelf splitter kits rarely fit every class or organization, and some "image brand" parts are not strong enough for real track use.

So this time we did have to make something custom - to fit both the TTD and TT4 rules. We chose sheet aluminum for this splitter design, as we often do, for a lot of reasons. I will address this and the many of the rules we had to interpret to make the max sized splitter for TT4, below.


Like we find in almost every ruleset, Jason and I looked at the TT4 aero specific rules and saw things that left some "room for interpretation". In TTD the splitter can protrude past the car a full 12" forward and up to 6" wider than the body. In TT4 a front splitter can protrude 4" forward... but from where? For this event we went with a more liberal interpretation of the TT4 limits rules for our TTD (for now) splitter. Of course the internet erupted with howls of protest when I showed pictures during construction. People cannot be bothered to research the rules or class you are running in, nor want to discuss the nuances of rules that are missing definitions or key words about measurement, in 60 characters or less.

So while this splitter "looks huge", its pretty mild for what is allowed in TT-Letter class (TTD), but potentially not legal for TT4 (depending on how they "intended" for the rule to be) by about 1-2" in the forward direction. We are building for TT4 later this season but at the very next NASA event (MSR-Houston) the car will still be running TTD.

2017 NASA TT rule 7.3.2.D.2
TT4 Specific Aerodynamic Modification Allowances (if not using OEM Mod Factor):
Aerodynamic parts/devices/aides shall be limited in TT4 to the following:
a) All of the items listed above in section 7.3.2.D.1) “OEM Aero” Modification Factor.
b) Vertical front air dam (5º tolerance) that follows the outermost edge of the front and side bodywork/fascia.
c) Single flat, horizontal front splitter that protrudes no greater than 4” from the vehicle.
d) Single rear wing or spoiler that does not exceed a height of 8” above the roof line, or width greater than the vehicle’s body width, or end plates greater than 12”.
e) Modified BTM, non-Base Trim Model (non-BTM), or replaced front fascia (unless specifically approved in Appendix D:
i) May have nothing attached to it other than specifically allowed items (above).
ii) May not have canards/winglets molded into it.
iii) Any item that is molded into the fascia that functions as an airfoil, deflector, dive plane, or vortex generator and extends 2" or more past the outline of the immediate surrounding fascia is prohibited. To inspect: a plumb line run across the entire surface of the fascia and bumper shall not have any such item that extends 2” past the line when viewed from above.
f) Cutting/removal of the rear bumper cover/fascia where it does not cover the rear frame/bumper cross beam.
In ST4/TT4 if you don't use the "OEM" aero rules and chose to take the small p-to-w penalty (0.4) for "non-stock aero" (we will), you can build around these front aero rules shown above. Somewhat limited allowances and lengths compared to TT-Letter, and the entire section is a bit on the brief side. No canards/winglets or rear diffuser allowed (which are legal in TT-Letter). Since there is no side-limit we jump back up to regular TT1/2/3/4 aero limits, which are a maximum 6" from edge of vehicle, so a splitter can be wider than it is long front-back. About that 4 inch forward protrusion...

Defining how and where to measure critical components is important in proper rule writing

It doesn't say so in the TT4 splitter rule 7.3.2.D.2.c, but where do you measure "forward" on the splitter from? This is critical and can be interpreted in 3 ways: A) the projected outline of the bumper cover, B) from the base of the front fascia (and which one - OEM or aftermarket/allowed limit of the class?), or C) from the base of the allowable air dam? Since the TT4 aero rules mention "outermost edge" in 7.3.2.D.2.b, and again with a definition of how to measure "past the outline" in 7.3.2.D.2.3.iii, you'd think it was from the projected outline, right? And since an air dam is legal and effectively changes the projected outline by another 5° forward, that moves the "line of measurement" forward as well.

That being said, this is how we measured for this splitter, which I feel is 100% legal for TT4 with the rules as written. Of course after a picture was posted on Facebook, I was told through back channels very quickly that's not what they "intended". So even though the same TT4 aero rules section defines projected outline and references it in two other places, and we can add an air dam with up to 5° off vertical that pushes that outline further, they want us to cut the splitter back considerably for TT4 use. We think... Maybe... The written rules contradict this non-official judgement. You never know how these rulings will go, but it seems to always be against how we interpret things.

Regardless, this splitter plus another 6" of length was legal for TTD at MSR-H. For the event at the NOLA event in October we will switch classes from TTD to TT4, and there I might ask another TT4 competitor there to file a formal protest on this item, so we can FORCE an official ruling from NASA National. In writing. With a change in the rulebook for next year. This way everyone is on the same playing field in 2018.

The splitter plane itself is .125" thick 6061-T6 aluminum, which is thinner than I normally use so I might not stand on this one like I usually do. The splitter was checked for level and ground clearance at the leading edge was ample at 87 mm (3.4"). This is a more clearance than we have done on previous splitters, like our TT3 Mustang which was closer to 2".

Splitter height is critical, and the lower you can get to the ground plane without the splitter plane bottoming (which disrupts downforce completely), the better. But then there are other real world limits, like the issues of curbing height limiting track width (see above right) and the need to load cars into a trailer or onto a flatbed wrecker (see above left), plus body roll and brake dive / bump travel that can smash your splitter into the ground. You need to plan for this, and sometimes this is only seen in track testing.

We let some of the chassis give us a starting point. The back of the splitter mounts at the front edge of the OEM factory undertray/engine bay brace - which is a two layer, welded, stamped aluminum structure. Nutserts were added to this and countersunk stainless hardware was added to the back edge of the splitter to secure it there. From there forward it is level - which is required (no up- or down-angle is permitted).

Now it was time to support the leading edge of the splitter. As this splitter extends about 6" forward from the base of the bumper cover, and the plastic fascia is not a good anchor to counteract downforce loads (expected to be in the 100-300 pound range, depending on speed), we need some splitter "stays" or "struts" to hold it in place. Some folks use cables, which only work in tension, but that isn't how we do it around here.

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177 Posts
Discussion Starter · #79 ·
continued from above

I also wanted the struts to be mounted into brake duct or grill openings, to minimize holes in the (eventually) painted front fascia. Aaron machined thin slices of solid round steel bar with threaded holes, then welded these in 4 points to the bumper beam. The splitter struts extend through the plastic fascia and attach securely. These struts then mount at the splitter plane with countersunk hardware from underneath, with nothing to hang down and get "ground off" on pavement.

With the bumper cover in place the #ExposedSplitterStruts are softened a bit, which a friend G-Speed gives me so much grief for. These 9" Joe's Racing Struts have LH and RH threads, which you can adjust the length of by turning the aluminum hex bar center portion. Sometimes we custom make longer units but it wasn't necessary on this splitter (see below right).

While a carbon fiber splitter can often get by without struts, we are not a composite shop. The costs for replacing a molded carbon splitter ($2000-2500, if one existed to fit this car/class, which it doesn't) also pale in comparison to the $200 that this 4x8' sheet of 6061 aluminum sheet cost. We could cut another from our new pattern quickly. Carbon splitters also fail spectacularly - they can crack, shatter and sometimes explode in use.

Aluminum splitters tend to bend and deform, which can be repaired track-side with a hammer or by driving over the bent piece with a truck tire. Most of the time spent on this "splitter install" (33.01 hours) was the planning, templating, bumper beam construction, bumper cover mounting, OEM inlet air snorkel swap, struts and anchor mounting, tow hook install, making the air dam mounts, adding the air dam plastic, brake inlet duct mounting, tire wall fabrication, etc. Making the actual splitter plane cut-out was probably only 2 hours.

Now we had to fill the big gap between the bottom of the not-quite-flat M3 bumper cover and the top of the splitter plane. This was our air dam solution - some short pieces of aluminum angle (not shown) were bent to follow the shape of the fascia, riveted to the splitter, which then forms a semi-continuous lower mounting flange. Next a small strip of black plastic "race roll" was cut, marked, drilled and mounted vertically to this flange via rivets, and trimmed to overlap the fascia and fill the gap. We didn't rivet the upper face to the bumper cover, as this air dam might change, and the pressure of the plastic (after a bit of forming/heating) made for an adequate seal to the body along the top edge.

These thin aluminum bits are "tire walls", and do not add downforce. They curve downwards

These vertical aluminum parts added in front of the tires (above) are what I am calling "flare extensions". Its really a "tire wall", but they don't define or address this in any NASA ST/TT class that we can find. They also function as an outboard splitter support (we cut the width back from the allowed 6" down to 4", to keep the front end narrower). The black plastic fender flare (allowed) has rules that are a bit vague, so we are calling the more vertical parts of the tire walls an "air dam" (allowed) - which serves the same function here. We went to great lengths to integrate these with the HARD Motorsport flare and keep it from being a potential "canard" (not legal).

These cars both have canards, which are meant to add downforce outside of the front splitter. They curve upwards.

In the 71 pages of the 2017 v14.1 NASA ST/TT rules, there is no definition of a "canard" (3 mentions) or "winglet" (2 mentions) that we can find, but the motorsports world knows what a canard is and how it functions. The purpose is to take air hitting the front of the car and curve it upwards (concave shape) and force the air flow to create some downforce. These do work but are a bit drag intensive. Canards are not allowed in TT4, where we are heading with this car. What we have added onto the 330 are curved the wrong way to create downforce, and really are just missing extensions of the flare to cover the spinning portion of the tire sticking out into the air stream. No downforce generated, just operating as a fender flare for the front edge. Again, we can call the front vertical section of these "air dam" if you want - which is legal.

A threaded coupling was machined, fitted into and welded to the bumper beam (above left) for mounting the pivoting front tow hook. Four little aluminum brackets were built to allow the OEM style grills to mount in the single-layer carbon fiber hood (the OEM steel hood has a mounting flange). These provide a function - keep big nasty rocks from flying into the heat exchangers, and the grills fit up against our M3 air inlet snorkel. Lastly a factory BMW roundel hood emblem was drilled and mounted to the carbon hood which has a depression for the emblem plus the two OEM anchors.

That wraps up the front nose + splitter install. Below we will cover some other things that were done at the same time...


We have been racing this car for 2 seasons without any front brake cooling whatsoever. A stock E46 330 normally has some small "scoop" plastics that sort of push air in the direction of the front brake hub, but its not very effective. And after the front hit that this car survived years before under another owner, all of those undertray, front fender liner, and brake scoop plastics were long gone or shredded. There were entire sections of the fender liner just gone - all too common for a 15+ year old car like this...

Why did I care? We have these massive Powerbrake 4 piston motorsport calipers and 340x35mm rotors up front! Big meaty things that can soak up tons of heat and shed it all easily, right? Well after 1.5 years of abuse, and a few times where I aborted a hot lap right before the pits and came in with hot brakes, I finally warped a rotor. Amy says I came in more than once with the front brakes pouring smoke, hopped out, ran off to get in a student's car, and just left the car parked - which is what probably warped the rotors. My stupid mistake. So for the last couple of events I've had to drive around this issue, which would show up after a few REALLY hard laps and was evident with a pulsation in the pedal.

Even though the rotors have plenty of meat left on them we couldn't find a way to safely turn 2-piece floating rotors, so we ordered replacement rotor rings and new bobbins/hardware from Powerbrake. These were installed onto the original aluminum hats that came with the brake kit. I was hesitant to put these new rings on the car until after we had some front brake cooling upgrade. And that brake cooling was waiting on the new nose + splitter decision. Now that we had a path forward, and a new front nose mounted, it was time to add some backing plates with cooling air, then feed that with some effective brake inlet ducts and hoses.

We are developing a front brake cooling backing plate package for the E46 330 using the design above, which we created on the silver 328i shown at the beginning of this post (will show that next time). With a small tweak these backing plates cleared the Powerbrake calipers. The 3" oval hose opening shown should pump air completely inside the rotor hat, around the wheel bearing, and through the rotor ring's curved vanes like an air pump.

We chose 3" hose for a number of reasons, but mostly because it packages well, provides cooling that is appropriate for cars this size/weight, and is a default brake duct size for most cars. Heavier/faster cars often get 4", but it is much less common on a 2900 pound BMW like this. Notice the vertical wall that has a "C" cut-out for the hose to pass around? That also acts as a splitter mount. We will go back after our next track event and add some inner fender liner sections - from aluminum or plastic - to fill in the gaps and better seal the engine bay. A clean fender liner makes a vented hood more efficient, too.

Placement of a brake inlet duct is critical - you are looking for the highest pressure area on the nose without moving the inlets off to the side too much, where the air can roll off to the sides. These HARD Motorsport inlet ducts fit the E46 M3 nose perfectly, so a pair were purchased. Again - we can buy something for a whole lot less than the time it would take to hand-make it here. #BoughtNotBuilt The bumper beam was designed to clear these with the new nose, because all of these pieces interact with each other in the same space.

Right: The hole shown in the duct is for the splitter strut mount to pass thru and land on the bumper beam.

The M3 foglight openings are large and these formed thermoplastic ducts fit around them perfectly. They form a nice curved bell that pushes the inlet air into the 3" round opening, which fits inside 3" brake hose nicely. Aaron mounted these to the M3 bumper cover with rivets hidden behind the front face, for a cleaner look. The hoses route to the backing plates but care was taken to keep them from being rubbed into by the front tires steering at full lock. With a 17x10" wheel, that takes some twists and turns, and the custom vertical splitter mounts inside the wheel well have room for the hoses, but its part of the normal plan when routing brake hoses. This should keep rotor temps from getting high enough to warp a rotor ring, even if I screw up and forget to take a cool down lap after a session. (I did a full 20 minute session of qualifying laps at MSR-H with these brake ducts installed - never saw even a hint of fade or warping).

Even with nearly 2 seasons of track events on these Powerbrake fronts, and the lack of brake cooling, and my mistakes in skipping cool down laps, the PB23 compound pads that I purchased with this set of calipers still have a ton of life! These are motorsports calipers so they are made with thicker-than-OEM pads, but still - many of these race weekends in 2016-17 were with two drivers. Amazing stopping power and pad life.


There were a number of other little modifications we accomplished over the summer before our MSR-Houston event September 22, 2017. I will briefly cover those below - including the loss of the "daily driven track car" moniker!


There is usually a tipping point you come to in a dual purpose car where it no longer makes sense to keep it street legal. Too many compromises that you have to make for street use that limit the track potential in TT-Number class - especially the aero. Driving a car with a rigid, low mounted splitter on the street is nerve wracking! I feel that our recent "beginnings of the move" to TT4 are already unleashing too many compromises that are just not appropriate for street use. While we kept our TT3 Mustang "street legal" for long time, at a certain point when it became more competitive, it no longer made sense. That's where we are on this 330... inevitable, with the TT-Number move looming just ahead.

Last time when we added the Sparco Circuit II seat with the halo support the car was safer on track but became less safe for street use. Why? While this style seat really helps save your head/neck/back in a side impact, the halo portion blocks a some of your side vision. I mentioned it briefly then.

In a race car you should have enough situational awareness for this small blind spot to not matter, but on the street where you have a lot more crazy people trying to kill you... not ideal. Swapping seats is a pain and we have so many more daily driver cars (including other E46 models) it didn't make sense to do that with this car, so its off of "street duty" for now.

We also pulled the front seat belts and the Texas rear license plate came off. A fake Euro-style, vanity plate went in it's place (these embossed metal pieces look like real plates and cost $25-35 online). We were also never going to run the TT4 motor with catalytic convertors, which are dangerous to run with in long stints on track with a race motor, so we can avoid that limitation. And registering/inspecting/insuring the car costs money that I'd rather spend on race tires. I just sold the fresh set of Dunlop ZII street tires (to pay for race tires!), dropped the insurance, and decided to no longer "dual purpose" this car. #BecauseRacecar It still has roll up windows and the A/C might stick around a while longer, but those might both go away in the future as well. We will see.


With the 6 points spent on air dam and splitter for TTD we had to add the 80 pounds of ballast back in the trunk, going from the 3205 lb number we have been running this season up to the 3285 lb number shown. We are so far under max power/torque it isn't even worth noting (but we do have it on our classing sheets and dyno printouts).

Two 45 lb plates + one 25 lb plate are double secured to our weight bracket in the trunk. I lost 21 pounds over the summer (Atkins) so I had to add that for a total of 115 lbs of ballast now (the roll bar gobbled up about 60 pounds). We left with only 1/2 tank, to test fuel slosh, too.

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177 Posts
Discussion Starter · #80 ·
continued from above

Note that between our first race in Jan 2016 we have gone from a 54% front weight bias down to a much ideal 50.5% front bias now. We have been moving weight down and to the back every chance we get.

A random failure of a stock gauge cluster in the silver 328 led to a musical chairs of E46 cluster swaps - my red 330 gave up the stock cluster and a leftover E46 M3 cluster made its way in. This isn't a 100% plug-in swap - there's a beeping alarm and "brake light" lit up ever since - but the fuel level, water temp, speedo and tach all seem to work perfectly. Don't know about the oil temp gauge? Bonus: the M3 has a 9000 rpm tach, which might come in handy for next year's motor!

Also (not shown) Aaron pulled inspection covers for the fuel tank to see our dual fuel pump setup, which fuel cut at Hallett in right hand turns with 1/2 tank or less. He re-routed one of the crossover hoses to be able to to retest at MSR-H.


Below is the list of modifications in this, the final iteration of this car for TTD class. TTC goes away in 2018 and rumor has it TTD will be sacked as well, both replaced by TT4/TT5. We won't see those new TT5 rules until its too late to build for next year, but very likely we would have to ballast up or power down for TT5.

Ballasted up to our new TTD 3285 pound number with me in it, + 1/2 tank of fuel, + 5 lb buffer

So we planned on running TTD at least one more time in 2017 before making the jump to TT4. Our E46 330 starts in TTE class and has 39 points to spend with "1 class UP jump" to TTD (+19 points for TTE and +20 points once into TTD). Here's the points breakdown:

+ Base classing of TTE* with 3285 lb min
+ 7 points for the BMW E46 330 "star" added to this car in the 2016 rules (*GRR!)
+ 10 points for Hoosier Racing Tire R7 compound
+ 1 point for 245mm tire size (+10mm from 235mm base class TTE tire)
+ 0 points for weight reduction (we were taking +6 for -80 pounds previously)
+ 1 point for cold air and/or hood venting (haven't vented yet)
+ 5 points for non-stock headers, cats, exhaust
+ 3 points for 2 way non-remote monotube coilovers (Motion Control Suspension TT2 model)
+ 2 points for non stock springs (Hyperco coilover springs)
+ 2 points for swaybars (Whiteline at both ends)
+ 2 points for non-BTM brakes (Powerbrake front 340x35mm 4 piston)
+ 3 points for add, replace, modify front fascia or air dam (5° variance from vertical) - New mod
+ 3 for add, replace, modify a single flat front splitter (up to 6" wider than body and up to 12" sticking out front) - New mod
39 points (everything else we have done is an approved "free" mods)


In an effort to squeeze as much out of the TTD setup before we go to the new motor next season, and to see if the BMWeditor software actually works, we asked for some help from a friend at another shop. He knows how to load a tune into these cars, and had a tune sent from a "remote tuner" who tunes BMWs all the time. We communicated the mods the car had (header, exhaust, no cats, no air pump, CAI) and the goals (road course use) and he had something that he felt would fit the bill. We did not have time to book a dyno - this happened suddenly, the day before we left for MSR-Houston.

It took a little effort but our local buddy got the tune to load and actually start and run. I drove it around the block and it "felt better" but who knows? Maybe that was wishful thinking. I was just glad we didn't have the stock tune any longer! I knew we couldn't possibly go beyond the class limit of 244 whp from our 216 whp previous dyno, so we loaded the car up for the NASA weekend.

A few days after this race weekend I went by True Street Motorsports (who does not tune BMWs directly, but has a dyno and tunes all of my GM and Ford V8 powered cars), where we made several pulls to see what the power numbers and air:fuel ratio looked like with the wide-band O2 they hook up during pulls. In the graph below we have overlaid the best "stock tune with headers + CAI" pull (in blue) with the best pull of the new "tuned" setup (in red). We made 3 pulls that day but they were nearly identical.

As you can see it didn't change much at all. The "tuned" curve was within 2-3 hp of the old one everywhere, and was actually down 1 hp at peak. If it wasn't for the much worse Air:Fuel ratio I would have guessed that this car still had the stock tune loaded. In the upper end of the power band where it matters, the A:F went from 12.05:1 (rich) with the stock tune, down to 11.05:1 (VERY rich) with the new tune. So it went from bad to worse. Not dangerous, just far from ideal.

I worked in the late 1990s in a shop where we did custom EFI tuning using a chassis dyno (and some street driving) with a wide band. I know what it takes to tune a car, and like I have said in the past, I feel that canned/email tunes or "remote tunes" are impossible to do properly without a lot of time on the tuner's end and someone with a dyno + a wide band at the car's end, so this "shot in the dark" tune went about as I expected.

Now that we know what the hang up was on our end with BMWeditor (the BIN loader software), and we can see what happened between the stock tune and the new one, we can work with the tuning software directly, while on the dyno. If we can get the A:F closer to ~13.5:1 at WOT, that should unlock a few more horses. Running at 11:1 or 12:1 won't hurt anything, just not the way to make the most power on a Naturally Aspirated motor.


As I showed above, the new splitter still required all 12' feet of the 2-piece RaceRamps to load, but it goes in relatively easily. With the front tow hook it can be winched in, but I normally just drive it in and out.

We loaded up the Thursday evening before the event, bringing along a second set of 17x10" Forgestars (ordered over the summer, powder coated gold) mounted with two "fresher" R7s and 2 new "sticker" R7s that I won earlier this year (the one day we finally had 5 in class, Saturday at Hallett). With no time for track testing before this event we went ahead and signed up for the Friday "test day". The plan was to run the old set of tires on the silver wheels (which had too many events on them) at the Friday test, try get the car and driver dialed in with the new front aero, then switch to the sticker/newer set for Saturday to run TT.


We towed down 5.5 hours from Dallas to Houston Friday morning, got to the track, found a spot to park and quickly unloaded the car. Ran over and paid the $75 for the afternoon test sessions and I was in my gear and on the track by 2:30 pm.

Since I was rushed I didn't put the vid cam in the car, but ran the AiM SOLO for lap times. Right off the bat I was way off the lap record pace set in 2014, by one of my customers in a BRZ that used to run in TTD with MCS TT2 coilovers and Hoosier A6 tires. Not only did I have a poorly handling car at speed I was having trouble remembering this track in this direction.

MSR-Houston has been on the NASA Texas schedule twice each year for a while. They alternate the direction for the January event (normally CW) and the September event (normally CCW). For various reasons we have missed the September NASA event here most years, as this is usually a busy month where we have other events going on that pull us away. After looking back at 12 years of running NASA events, I've only found one other instance where I ran this track in the CCW direction - back in January 2014 (when it was cold, where Hoosiers work much better). This might explain why the CCW record for TTD is fairly solid at a 1:48.5 - the MSR-H CCW event wasn't run that year during the traditionally hot "second" September event date. I ran that event in TT3 that year and it was COLD, but I put down a 1:41.4 lap which was the class record until it was reset in 2015 by a TT3 M3 with a giant front wing (which prompted a front wing ban from all TT1/2/3 production cars).

So I was re-learning the track again in the 330 in hot weather on a pretty used up set of tires. But still, I knew we had a setup problem - the car was very loose in high speed corners, especially Turn 2 (the Carosel). I was entering this corner at about 85-90 mph, avoiding the curbs, but it would step the rear out badly at speed. It wasn't shocks or tires, it was mid-corner at the limit - I could enter the corner slower fine, but as I sped up the nose really planted and the rear stepped out. This was the "new front downforce" working like it should, just a little too well. With no rear wing to balance that new front downforce out it had an aero imbalance. Damn it.

It was also very hot and humid - 95°F in the late afternoon sun - which didn't help things. Still, my lap times were getting "better" the longer I drove, as long as I kept my cornering speeds down in Turn 2. Very frustrating - I knew what the problem was, just couldn't fix it without pulling the entire splitter off. About 10 laps / 20 minutes into this session the coolant temps started to creep up. I took a cool down lap and they came back down, but as soon as I pushed it again they were spiking. No steam or water coming out that I could see. I shut off the engine, coasted around the track to pit in, and came into the paddock right as the session ended.

Fuel pump check: The car started this session with a hair above 1/2 tank of fuel and after the 20 minutes on a course with a long right-hander it had no fuel starvation, got all the way down to 1/4 tank with zero issues. At least we can say with confidence now that the dual fuel pump upgrade does indeed work.

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