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The-storm-before-the-storm

The Storm Before the Storm – Watkins Glen 2016

I suppose the same could be said of any event, but those not involved have no idea how much has to happen to get it all set up to pull off the show. Even as we roll in to set up before the spectators arrive, there are already other support series, officials, and equipment in the paddock. Dozens of semitrailers full of tires are hidden behind the fancy tire support haulers. Generators, communication equipment, vendors, fuel trucks, and safety equipment are staged around the paddock.

Rainy day pit practice
Rainy day pit practice at the shop and constant effort from the BimmerWorld crew paid off in the race.

 

No One Goes Hungry!

Everyone has something to do, and everyone needs to eat. From concession food or cooler-packed cold cuts to the full splendor of Chef Dave’s trackside services, this is one of the areas that we’ve grown even more so than our transporters. Johnny and I were able to fill in during Dave’s absence, but Johnny clearly stated, “We’re not Dave Taylor, so the chicken cacciatore and grape leaf appetizers would be another time.” I was fine with that. I have half a dozen staples I knock out for the guys on test days, at club races or in the shop, and Johnny Ray is working on a BBQ stand business to ease his coming retirement boredom. All that said, I’m always looking for an excuse to run the smoker, so I smoked a big batch of Southern BBQ the weekend before we left and vacuum-sealed it to bring with us. We take our eating pretty seriously here at BimmerWorld, and no one goes hungry at the track.

Pre-race BBQ
Making sure no one will go hungry: Pre-race BBQ prep at 7:00AM on Sunday morning at the Marks’ Ranch

BimmerWorld subs
And for a bit of variety, Italian subs tend to make everyone happy – and full.

BW waffles
Our morning adventure with “BW” waffles… Talk about a good omen!

 

Before the Storm: Time For The Rain (Tire) Dance

After the mad dash of the event setup and practice, we prepared for qualifying. If it’s going to rain on a race weekend, it’s most likely going to begin to sprinkle indecisively about 30 minutes before qualifying or the race. True to form, qualifying was no different this weekend. The first cloud of the weekend, and green blips on the radar, showed up 40 minutes prior to the qualifying session, so the rain tire/dry tire decision dance began. The garages looked like an Independence Day sale at Ray’s Tire Emporium as the crew juggled the air lines, impact guns, and tire options. There is never a dull moment. A fleeting shower left the tire decision gray, so we sent the No. 81  on wets and the No. 84 on drys. As expected, it seemed bleak for the No. 84; the early wetness looked like it wasn’t going to dry, but Tyler Cooke laid down his fastest lap the last time around and this left both cars with solid qualifying positions.

Rain tire dance
Chris Broce looks ready to start the rain tire dance.

All hands - Race-day prep
All hands on deck for race-day preparation.

Watkins Glen fan walk
A fan checks out the No. 81 BMW 328i on grid during the fan walk.

 

Two Top-10 Finishes – Two Solid Cars Heading to Canada

Race day was beautiful with good winds and a relatively cool temperature. Both opening drivers drove excellent stints and brought the cars in high in the field. The crew banged out two great stops. Dave Simpkins, Joe Vaught, Chris Broce, and Tom Wansor nailed a super green-flag stop on the No. 84 which pitted from a 2nd-place position and returned to the track in 2nd place. We lost a little ground in the end, but the closing drivers still put two cars in the top 10 and grabbed points for the championship. The race also left solid cars to prepare on the road for Canada, which is always a looming concern for back-to-back races. Damage is harder to fix when you don’t have your own shop to work in.

Post-race carnival
Scattered race parts at the IMSA series transporter. The day after the carnival is always an interesting sight.

Staying at Watkins Glen to get the work done in the short turn-around before the next round lets our week come full circle with a glimpse at the midway after the carnival has left. Broken race parts and miscellaneous hardware litter the empty asphalt as straggler trucks and trailers make their way out of the paddock. After preparing our cars we head out right behind.

-Jason Marks

BimmerWorld rigs on the road

Watkins Glen Bound: On the road again (again!)

It was 14 years ago when BimmerWorld went big time and bought our first semi-trailer race hauler. It was the week before Petit Le Mans, and we were running a two-car, three-man show (including drivers) in World Challenge. On Friday, James and I picked up the new-to-us Volvo tractor from the local factory and set off for Georgia to pick up the new transporter.

James and Jason after a two-man 2AM engine swap
Nothing like a two-man engine swap at 2AM. Ah, the good ole days (2003).

James had a Class A CDL from his early contracting days, and it was crash-course time for me in heavy trucks and big transmissions.  We picked up the also-new-to-us trailer Saturday morning and high-tailed it home to VA to load on Sunday.  After a full day of last-minute prep and getting acquainted with a new trailer and lift gate, James took me on a loaded-rig test drive around Radford… And then Monday morning it was trial-by-fire on the way to Road Atlanta solo. I made it, only missing a gear so badly I had to coast to a stop on the shoulder once, then parked the rig in the tightest spot I’ve ever had to get into in the paddock, and it was into the great wide open from there.

BimmerWorld's original Lotus rig
The original BimmerWorld rig undergoing it’s Lotus decal removal and transition to becoming “Big Blue.”

Our fleet of crew and cars has grown. Two cars became three became four. The old Lotus rig became “Big Blue,” and that became a giant circus tent that was later joined by a second transporter which was ultimately retired for a second modern day hauler.

The BimmerWorld circus tent
The original BimmerWorld circus tent in all of its glory.

 

On the road again

After eight seasons, a handful of crew and co-drivers, dozens of  “good” stories (or bad, depending on your perspective), more hours after midnight on the West Virginia turnpike than anyone should spend in a lifetime, and 200,000 or so miles, I handed “Old Blue” over to Dave Taylor in 2010 as he came on board as truck driver and chef extraordinaire.  Dave couldn’t make the two-week New York-Canada run this year, so I dusted off the old trucker hat and hit the open road today.  After a 30-minute delay at a bottleneck due to a tractor-trailer wreck 10 miles from the shop, it was pretty smooth sailing to New York.

We’ll handle the rig parking in the AM: “Hang it up and see what tomorrow brings.”

-Jason Marks

Bimmerfest 2016 M2

Bimmerfest 2016

Bimmerfest 2016 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California was even better than we expected. We went with the intention of meeting with some of our California-based suppliers and visiting with BMW friends, with our main goal being to simply enjoy the show. That’s exactly what we did.

From the double-lane row of cars backed up almost to the Speedway entrance when we arrived, it was obvious the BMW enthusiasts were out in full force for Bimmerfest 2016. With the number of cars that were on display, parked, and in line to get in, it was easy to understand why California is the state we ship the most parts to.

Bimmerfest 2016 line

Bimmerfest West: SoCal Car Culture At It’s Best

The SoCal car culture was a bit different than what we experience on the East Coast, but it was still 100% awesome, and it gave us a great feel for what our customers like and want. Beyond just the cars on display, the regular parking lot had an equally impressive display of great BMWs from every generation. And Bimmerfest isn’t just about show cars, though there were plenty to see; there were also track day events, autocrosses, and time trials. The BMW USA and Heritage display was really impressive, and we never get tired of seeing the old PTG M3s, let alone the mighty McLaren F1 GTR.

BimmerWorld McLaren F1 GTR

We barely had a chance to get around and see everything on Saturday, but we did get to spend some time filming with OPTIMA Batteries, and we spent a ton of time at MagnaFlow’s full transport display helping to answer all the questions about their 100% American-made BMW exhaust systems. We also got the opportunity to show off the new MagnaFlow F82 M4/F80 M3 Performance Exhaust System that stunned quite a few people with how well it transformed the otherwise dull sounds coming from the BMW S55 Twin Turbo engine. It’s a great looking system, and it’s easily the best sounding exhaust available for the new M3 and M4 – hands down!

This was our first time as Bimmerfest West attendees, but it definitely won’t be our last. We had a great time with all the great people and BMWs, and we’re already looking forward to the next one. We even managed to sneak away and get a few photos, so take a look at the Bimmerfest gallery below to catch a glimpse of what we saw.

Hyperfest 2016 VIR BMW

HyperFest at VIR 2016

Something for Everyone

HyperFest at VIR has been the East Coast event for motorsports enthusiasts for 15 years, and this year’s event was no different. Whether you like road racing, drifting, HPDEs, karting or off-road racing, or even if you prefer car shows, camping, lawn mower racing or just spectating while celebrating your love of cars, HyperFest has something for everyone.

With VIRginia International Raceway being in our own backyard, and with our lust for all things fast, our participation goes without saying.

 

Friday – Testing & Practice Repairs

The HyperFest weekend officially starts on Friday. While most attendees who are set to compete through the weekend are  there to test and practice for the racing events, this is also the big day for the Tire Rack Ultimate Track Car Challenge (UTCC) presented by Grassroots Motorsports. Since this is an all-out battle with a wide variety of cars showing up to fight for the title of Ultimate Track Car, multiple awards get handed out at the end of the day. BimmerWorld was proud to present the Fastest BMW award to Joey Atterbury in his incredibly quick widebody 135i that put down a 1:50.486, making it the third fastest car in that event.
BimmerWorld Porsche GT2
James Clay had the honor of piloting the “Widow Maker” GT2 with 800Hp of high-strung Porsche power. 

James drove Alex May’s 800Hp Porsche GT2 in Friday’s UTCC, and he was also the head of our small BimmerWorld team intending to use Friday to test and practice in the No. 46 BimmerWorld Spec E46. Unfortunately, we got sidelined with a transmission that needed replacing, but because BMW racers are such an incredibly generous and helpful group, we were able to find a transmission to borrow for the weekend… Only to find out the borrowed transmission would need replacement, too. That’s racer’s luck, but thanks to John Kopp from RaceWerkz in Virgina Beach and one of his very kind customers, we were able to get another transmission delivered by Friday night. Brandon and Q were able to dig in and get the working transmission installed successfully by Saturday morning.

 

Saturday – Let the Motorsports Mayhem Begin!

Saturday was off to a great start with the new-to-us transmission installed and ready to go. Well, it was almost off to a great start. If Friday’s events weren’t enough proof of how great our group of racer friends is, Saturday sure was. We quickly realized we had a bad shifter, selector rod, and selector rod joint, but we were able to borrow some parts from Sri Haputantri of Sri Racing, LLC to help get us sorted, and we were lucky to have Chad Morehead of Morehead Motor Works parked next to us in the paddock, as he was happy to lend a helping hand to get the repairs completed in time.

Cameron Evans had to miss out on Saturday’s qualifying session due to the repairs, but he did manage to slip in a quick test lap in order to make sure everything on the Spec E46 BMW 330i was working properly. Maybe that was just the pressure he needed, as Cameron started in 15th but managed to work his way up to 5th place before the checkered flag came out. James continued with Cameron’s momentum by taking a 1st-place finish later that day in the PTB class with the SE46 car.

One of the many great things about HyperFest is that there’s plenty to see and do when you’re not on track, so we managed to get a few friends together to explore the HyperFest party. We caught some of the drifting action on the Patriot Course and between turns 3, 4, and 5a when they moved to the Full Course later in the day. Plenty of tire smoke and good times.

Hyperfest 2016 drifting

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

BimmerWorld Spec E46 SE46
No. 46 BimmerWorld SE46 all shined up and ready to race!

Any day you don’t have to rush to replace parts on your race car is a good one, so Sunday was a great day. The weather was constantly changing from warm and sunny to cold and overcast and back again, so we were chasing down a good setup to get us the quickest lap times we could find. With James racing in SE46 and Cameron in PTB, both drivers started in P3 for the respective races. James fought his way to the front and had an incredibly tight battle with Ali Salih who squeezed in a photo-finish first place by just 0.004 of a second! Cameron fought hard in PTB, too, and was able to hold on to his starting position with a 3rd-place finish. There was plenty of on-track excitement, and it all worked out for some great racing and exciting finishes across the board.

Between all the racing, spectating, and promoting of our BimmerWorld contingency programs, we somehow managed to slip in enough time to connect with several of our customers and racer friends. Okay, maybe it was the racing that was slipped in with the socializing, but either way… We found plenty of time to do everything we love, and while there were some huge downpours of rain, the track stayed dry for all the “HyperFestivities,” so it was a great weekend all around with plenty of good times on track and off.

 

Event Gallery by James Clay

Awesome iPhone Gallery by Brandon Marshall

MCS video James Clay screenshot

BimmerWorld Web Series: MCS Ultra-Premium Suspension

James Clay, owner of BimmerWorld, explains the value of MCS ultra-premium dampers in our latest BimmerWorld Web Series video. With MCS, you’re not only getting a great set of adjustable dampers with adjustable ride height and customizable spring heights and spring rates, the extra money that goes into an MCS setup buys you the tightest tolerances available and ultra-premium quality you can feel in every single click of adjustment, both on the adjustment knob and in the way your BMW responds to those adjustments.

From track day to date night (or business meeting), even with high spring rates for serious track use, the tolerances and ultra-premium quality of MCS dampers deliver a range of adjustment that truly allows you to change your car from extreme track machine to complete comfort cruiser at the turn of a knob.

The best suspension option means you get the best value for your money, and we know MCS isn’t always the best option for every customer and budget, so we offer the perfect options for all of our customers based on actual needs and resources. Whether it’s damper-only replacement or a full race coilover setup, we offer the best suspension products available for your BMW from Bilstein, H&R, Hyperco, ISC, Ground Control, KW, MCS, and Powerflex, plus our own BimmerWorld-designed products and OEM selections among others.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay tuned for future episodes of our BimmerWorld Web Series, and visit us at BimmerWorld.com for all your BMW performance needs.

6 Hours on The Ridge BimmerWorld

6 Hours on The Ridge – 2016

Talk about living the good life. That’s exactly how it felt at the 6 Hours on the Ridge, spending a great weekend with our friends and customers. The Ridge is a relatively new facility that opened in May of 2012 in Shelton, WA, and it’s got a great track layout with an amazingly scenic view; we were treated to a snow-covered Mt. Rainier as our backdrop for the entire weekend.

 

A weekend at the track means a weekend with friends

When we’re not in the BimmerWorld office, we all like to get out and spend time with the BMW community, and that often involves heading out to club events, track weekends, and races all over the country. James Clay, BimmerWorld president and complete track junkie, can often be found digging in with friends and customers trackside to help with car setup and share some of his own learning experiences. Not only do we get to hang out, we can give back and get first-hand experience with what issues people are having and what trends or region-specific needs we can help with. These weekends also give James a good chance to spend time with several of our BimmerWorld dealers around the country. The weekend at The Ridge was no exception, giving the perfect opportunity to visit with a few BW dealer friends in the Washington area, like Advance Auto Fab, Bristow’s Exclusive Auto Repair, Grip Racing, and Lowe Group Racing.

Anyone who’s met James or spent any time with him learns immediately that the cars, track days, racing, and motorsports in general are just an elaborate excuse to spend time with the people as much as anything else. It’s really all about the time we get to enjoy with our friends, whether on track or off.

 

AiM Data – School’s in Session

Saturday was all about testing, and all the teams were working on getting dialed in with the track and car setup for the 6-hour endurance race on Sunday. The highlight was the Saturday evening data acquisition seminar put on by our good friend and occasional substitute driver for our pro team, James Colborn, along with help from BimmerWorld drivers James Clay, Dan Rogers and Seth Thomas. The group put on a much-appreciated lesson, sharing the fundamentals of working with data in a racing environment, specifically with the wildly popular AiM Solo. This also marked the start of several data seminars Colborn will be presenting through the Conference season.

James Colborn AiM seminar
James Colborn teaching everyone the intricacies of data acquisition and what to do with the AiM-sourced data once you have it.

ICSCC, or “Conference,” is the International Conference of Sports Car Clubs made up of several sports car clubs in the U.S. and Canada, making the largest racing sanctioning body in the Pacific Northwest. This also happens to be the first sanctioning group to adopt Spec E46, so they obviously know the makings of a good race class when they see one.

6 Hours on The Ridge with close Spec E46 racing
There was plenty of good, close Spec E46 racing at every turn of the 6 Hours on The Glen enduro. (Photo courtesy of Doug Berger – scroll down for gallery.)

 

Spec E46 Continues to Grow – And Win

Sunday was the big 6 Hours on the Ridge endurance race where it was once again proven that Spec E46 is a solid racing class that’s here to stay with constantly growing numbers. It was a great turnout with nearly 30 teams spread out among various classes, and BimmerWorld’s Dan Rogers finished at the top of the podium for the second time in three years at this same event.

The racing was great, the track and facilities were perfect, and the surroundings were breathtaking, but the real highlight was spending an entire weekend on track alongside our friends.

6 Hours on The Ridge with James Clay and man's best fan
It doesn’t matter how soon the green flag is going to drop, there’s always time for extreme closeups of dogs. (Photo courtesy of Doug Berger – scroll down for gallery.)

 

Race Gallery by Doug Berger

Event Gallery by James Clay


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