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      05-06-2009, 11:41 PM   #1
FrenchBoy
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First Autocross in the M3

I autocrossed my E46 325Ci for a number of years. It was slightly modified and overall did pretty well. Very predictable and tossable. Just not enough power and torque.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally got a chance to autocross the M3. I was a bit concerned that it would not be a great autocross car, mainly due to the weight. The car is currently stock. I plan to get track pads and wheels/tires since I will sign up for track days soon.

I think I was wrong.

I had so much fun. The car was amazing. And FAST. Felt very nimble, easy to maneuver and that power just gets you going so fast. Torque was plentiful. Since I knew one of the main issue would be understeer (staggered stock setup), I anticipated every tight corner by braking extra hard coming into the corner and pounding on the throttle after the apex. Worked pretty well. Now, I am thinking that with a square setup and a bit of camber, the M3 is going to be a GREAT autocross car.

Oh, and I won my class! Here are the results:

Best time of the day was a 43.791 from a very experienced driver in a highly modified STi

And here are a couple of photos from the event:




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      05-07-2009, 06:15 AM   #2
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Great Job Nicolas!! Did you run with DSC off?
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      05-07-2009, 10:47 AM   #3
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Yep, DSC off. Otherwise, the power is cut off at very inopportune moments ;-)
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      05-08-2009, 08:13 AM   #4
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Glad to hear it worked out so well. I have only done autocross at car control clinics but it looks like it would be a lot of fun and safe. Are you going to Pacific Raceways with the BMW club on the 21st?

Carl
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      05-08-2009, 08:17 AM   #5
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Awesome. I can't wait for the autox season to start down here in GA.
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      05-08-2009, 10:30 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrenchBoy View Post
I autocrossed my E46 325Ci for a number of years. It was slightly modified and overall did pretty well. Very predictable and tossable. Just not enough power and torque.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally got a chance to autocross the M3. I was a bit concerned that it would not be a great autocross car, mainly due to the weight. The car is currently stock. I plan to get track pads and wheels/tires since I will sign up for track days soon.

I think I was wrong.

I had so much fun. The car was amazing. And FAST. Felt very nimble, easy to maneuver and that power just gets you going so fast. Torque was plentiful. Since I knew one of the main issue would be understeer (staggered stock setup), I anticipated every tight corner by braking extra hard coming into the corner and pounding on the throttle after the apex. Worked pretty well. Now, I am thinking that with a square setup and a bit of camber, the M3 is going to be a GREAT autocross car.

Oh, and I won my class! Here are the results:
That's awesome!

I can't wait to run the car in the dry... all the autocrosses have been in the rain so far this season.

The square setup works well, and you can really get the car to TTOS. I changed my alignment to 0 toe in the front and maxed out the negative camber.

I have Dinan plates sitting here, and HR Sports coming. I'm curious to see the kind of results those will have...especially in the dry.

I'm thinking that with 275 RA-1's or better, the car should be able to make some good times.

Good luck with your season.
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      05-08-2009, 11:01 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgdog View Post
Glad to hear it worked out so well. I have only done autocross at car control clinics but it looks like it would be a lot of fun and safe. Are you going to Pacific Raceways with the BMW club on the 21st?
Carl
No. I am going to the M School next week so I cannot take another day off the week after.

I have just signed up for the June 26th BMWACA track in Portland though. Can't wait.
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      05-19-2009, 06:37 PM   #8
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That's some nice looking asphalt. At the Q in San Diego it's not so good. Plenty of holes and gunk.
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      05-19-2009, 06:42 PM   #9
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This past weekend, I went to check out a local autocross, to get a feel for what it is, and I must say honestly that I was not "conquered" by what I saw... especially after my first Performance Driving Event at Lime Rock!!

For some reason, I just feel it would take too much of a toll on the car (e.g., high revs in 1st and 2nd gears) when compared to seat time, speed, etc...

What do you guys out there think?
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      05-19-2009, 06:51 PM   #10
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ok I am new to this why would you autocross and not go to the track. I have never autocrossed so this is not a dumb ?. I do track my car and after being on a track, I do not get the autocross thing. Be kind.
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      05-19-2009, 07:30 PM   #11
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Autox and track are 2 completely different animals. I'm a newbie to both (2 autox completed, no track yet but planning on soon) but as far as I can tell the driving skills/styles/expectations are very different for both.

Track:
Higher speeds >100mph.
Much more driving time.
Different skill set.
Greater chance of serious damage.
"need" mods, competition brakes and tires.
More gearing, you'll run through most of your gears, so Heel&toe/Rev matching is an important skill.
More expensive ~$200/day.
Generally not local events.

Autox:
Speeds generally <60mph, street kind of speeds.
Daily Driver is good to go, or beater or modded fixer upper.
Shorter course.
Very little chance of damage (cone kisses are about as bad as you'll get).
At lower speeds/gear 2/3 gear you can push the car and experience drifts/spinouts etc with little chance of damage.
You can push your limits because mistakes are not that costly.
Heel & Toe/rev matching not so critical, most autox courses can be done completely in 2nd gear with maybe some short trips to 3rd.
Some "Similar" skills to track racing but not the same as speed << less.
Cheap $40-60/day.
Local event.
Track work involved (when you're not driving you're resetting cones for other groups).
Social event, generally takes all day and a good time to chat with fellow enthusiasts.

I'd say that autox style is closer to road rally driving and track is closer to nascar/raceway.

For example, I did autox last weekend, was on site from 8AM to 3PM and got 10 laps at about 2 mins each, total 20 minutes driving time. I spent about 3 hours working the track. The rest of the time was meetings,prep,lunch etc. Very lopsided. But it was fun and a social day out.


I compare the two to fishing on your local lake all day with a few bites, versus going down to Cabo for some serious deep sea fishing.

Both are good as long as you have the correct expectations.
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      05-20-2009, 05:26 PM   #12
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Paddy gave a good overview of the differences between autocross and track.

They are very different disciplines and require different driving skills. I enjoy both of them.
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      05-20-2009, 06:10 PM   #13
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Good job, you beat a GT-R
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