Last Friday some of my colleagues and I had the great pleasure and privilege of touring RDSport's new facility in Southern California. Despite the fact that the facility is still very much under construction, and not even a quarter of the items are moved in, the staff there was very kind and welcoming, and took time out of their week's end wrap-up to show us around.
We were surprised and very grateful to have one on one time with Federico Pavoncelli, BMW tuning legend and founder of Racing Dynamics, SpA and RDSport, Inc. Federico is lauded as one of the greats in BMW tuning, and to hear the entire story of Racing Dynamics, RDSport, and MOMO
was simply incredible!
This thread is not intended to be a play-by-play history - if you wish to read the unabridged version, I strongly recommend you read This thread.
I must admit that out of 3 JleviSW employees present at the meeting, none of us had even the slightest idea what really happened with RDSport and Racing Dynamics, and we certainly did not know Federico's history with MOMO (a respected global brand headquartered in Italy). It's an absolutely amazing (and somewhat heartbreaking) story of a college entrepreneur and his love for BMW's, and truthfully, you won't read a better or more interesting story unless you work in hollywood reviewing scripts.
For the purpose of this article, I will throw in the minimum amount of information for it to make sense, but again - read the entire history. You won't regret it.
So, off we go!
Before we begin, though, a quick disclaimer:
My apologies for low quality photos. They were shot on a Nikon D5000 with no external lighting and no tripod. Flash was used only where absolutely necessary. Warehouses are dark places and therefore many of the images are blurry or dark. To preserve the journalistic nature of the post, I've done absolutely no editing or processing of the images beyond resizing and adding a watermark logo. As always, you see what I see, and I tell it like it is.
Now that that is over with...
Here is the Racing Dynamics Sign - not even on the building yet, as they've been in the new location for about a week. Truthfully, it may never go up. Racing Dynamics is the global brand and original company. Due to a US company that bought the trademark and used it to sell knock-offs, Racing Dynamics brands their parts RDSport in the US and Canada.
(Just a note, since the writing of the post linked above, negotiations to buy back the trademark have fizzled; the US importer is just asking way too much money).
The Racing Dynamics logo features text that Federico literally stylized himself with an exacto knife, surrounding a stylized version of his family crest. Very cool!
This is the wheel that put RDSport on the map. Not only is it the first 5 spoke wheel ever put on a BMW (and one that inspired many other tuners and BMW themselves to look into spoke wheels)… it is also the first ever hollow-spoke magnesium wheel. This was a legend in the BMW tuning world and completely changed the game when it was unveiled in 1987 at the IAA show in Frankfurt.
Federico Pavoncelli, designer of the famed wheel, explains his design process and the unique hollow-spoke magnesium alloy construction of the wheel.
Just a customer's car with RDSport brakes - this customer requested special black brakes with no logo (standard is blue w/ white logo), because in AutoX he loses points for every aftermarket upgrade they notice!
A stroker motor for an E92 M3 being built in the Engine Room. This is the first time RDSport USA has been able to have a dedicated engine room in the USA (previously their US facility did not have the same manufacturing and installation capabilities as their Milano facility)
A bored out motor. RDSport/Racing Dynamics is extremely cautious about how far their motors get bored, to preserve structural integrity. They differ from other tuners in this regard.
Piston head on a diet.
Each component is meticulously measured to make sure it is 100% within spec. One employee confided, when Federico stepped away, that his near-obsessive attention the detail and fastidious work ethic is the secret behind RDSport's success.
Beauty shot to illustrate my point. This isn't a display piece; they actually clean every component to this level before re-assembling the motor.
Here's how. No, they don't polish them by hand!
We pulled their engineer away from the workbench to get you this exclusive in-progress shot!
Fisker offers RDSport's RS5.6 V10 Stroker Motor as an option on their own Latigo CS Coach-Built Supercar. Very cool.
Just a cool shot of a build in progress
All of the parts are shelved after cleaning, one rack per engine to ensure what comes off goes back on.
Pistons awaiting cleaning
More parts from this same engine build
Now on to the part I personally enjoy the most… the bolt-on parts
A bunch of exhausts being laid out in preparation for shipping and packaging. Since they aren't fully moved in yet (not even close), they are staging shipments on the floor for now
Which lucky customer will get this one?
A blank forged wheel. This wheel is left blank so it can be machined to the proper spec when a customer orders it - making the lead time much shorter.
The finished product. This is one of RDSport's more recent designs and therefore has deviated from their usual split 5 spoke.
This pallet of wheels hasn't been unloaded yet, but it has samples from a lot of their classic wheels. It was very cool to hear Federico talk about his inspiration when he designed each one of them by hand.
Inventory. Though the majority of the operation is actually based in Milano, many parts are kept here for faster shipping.
Dry Vacuum formed Kevlar bumper for the E9X M3. Very nice.
This was incredibly cool. They still have the original bumpers which were cut and modified by hand to create the beautiful RDSport bumpers now available.
Racing Dynamics Italy is partners with Pirelli. Pirelli has a partnership with BMW, and is given the new cars way ahead of official launch for R&D. As part of the agreement, Racing Dynamics is able to develop parts for the cars - and that is why they have a full lineup for the cars way before many other tuners.
Design concepts of rear bumpers - they don't' have the internals because they are iterations of design alterations - stepping stones to the final, production product.
The REAL Racing Dynamics/RDSport does not make parts for VW/Audi/Porsche, but since the Range Rover and Mini vehicles were/are part of the BMW Group, Racing Dynamics includes them in their portfolio of offerings.
In the mood for some shopping?
An older 3pc wheel design (center only)
Note the pockets cut out of the wheels. This is pretty common now, but back when this wheel was developed, this was a radical idea for weight savings.
Wheel components (lips and barrels)
Wheels in stock!
4 Wheel Dyno, getting installed next week. The first time RDSport will have a dyno of their own in the US - much easier than taking it somewhere else for dyno testing!
Bin full of Racing Dynamics logos. If a product is shipping to the USA or Canada, it gets RDSport logos. If shipping outside of the US, it will have these Racing Dynamics logos.
Racing Dynamics Center Caps
A vehicle getting the full RDSport / Racing Dynamics treatment.
What's this? A real RS4.6 in the flesh?
Walks like a duck…
Quacks like a duck...
Even looks like a duck…
There's a quick (and pretty bad) video shot and edited on iPhone for you guys on our YouTube channel (youtube.com/jlevisw). The Nikon's microphone couldn't handle the throaty growl of the stroker motor, so iPhone video will just have to do!
Anyways, I hope this post was as entertaining to read as it was to research.
I want to give a huge THANKS to the entire team at RD Sport for their time. It was an incredible experience and myself, Mike, and Bryan felt very grateful to hear the rich history first-hand.
It goes without saying that if you seek anything RDSport, you need only call JleviSW. We are happy to help and proud to carry the full line of RDSport products.
Thanks for reading