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      02-16-2012, 12:35 AM   #1
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Dedicated track car under 15K?

Guys,

How many people have a dedicated track car? My E90 hasn't been on the track yet but it I will probably do about 16 track days this year and I'm not sure if I want my E90 out there for all of them? I'm mainly going to be doing HPDEs & BMW CCA schools. I've done VIR in my old 325I and absolutely loved it.

It seems like it would be fun to have a street legal HPDE project car I can work on but is it a waste of money? My E90 is my DD and I plan on keeping if for a long time. I'm wondering if I should just do a few brake upgrades on the E90 (Stainless Steel Brake Lines/Fluid/Track Pads) and Enjoy my M?

If I switch to a lowered HP car will I have as much fun as in my M3? I was looking a E36 M3's, and Porsche Boxster S or 944's-(defeintely want a German car ) Track insurance + tires & brakes for the M can get expensive and would not feel a bad if something happened to my track car.

Any Ideas?
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      02-16-2012, 01:25 AM   #2
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Whether or not to get a dedicated track car can only depend on personal preference. I have friends that prefer flogging around a heavy but powerful car in comfort. Others want a super light car than they can corner at insane speeds, brake very late, and basically have to work harder to get the lap time. If you're a good driver, you can definitely have more fun in a lower powered but more nimble car. But it's not for everyone. Stock for stock, some of these cars aren't any slower, depending on the track. Some people just want a FAST car regardless of weight or driver involvement.

The E90 is a great platform and does extremely well for a heavy sedan, so there's no shame in getting it track ready and enjoying a dual use car. Throw $5k at it, and it will do really really well. On the flip side, I doubt you get much good that's German for $15k all in. Maybe a 944.

The big advantage in my mind of having a dedicated track car is safety. You can do a full cage + harness + HANS, but you may have to trailer it to the track.

I would consider an S2000 as well. I've looked into the dedicated track car thing and right now it's the best value for $10-15k easily. Particularly if you find one that's already built out and track ready. A stock one needs a few things here and there. But, you will have to keep the engine revving high and really maintain momentum to be fast.
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      02-16-2012, 01:46 AM   #3
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How about a Spec Miata? Great track car and great potential race car. Replacement parts and consumables (rims, tires, brake pads) are cheaper and will also last you a lot longer.

Had a Spec Miata and would get one again but my wife doesn't want me to get a dedicated track car.

I drove my Spec Miata to and from the track, but it was probably one of the more stupid things I've done because if I had ever gotten into an accident on the street I'd probably have cracked my head open against the rollcage.
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      02-16-2012, 07:10 AM   #4
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I've looked at the Spec Miata's and S2000's but this car would be dual purpose: Weekend Car and HPDE car. The Boxster appeals to me because it's a convertible and mid engine design. I would be driving this to the track so a car with a full cage is out. It would be years before I would ever have the chance to race in a series.
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      02-16-2012, 09:50 AM   #5
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Quote:
How many people have a dedicated track car?
I have a good idea. I have a street legal dedicated track car which is ideal for VIR, or any other track for HPDE events. The car knows its way around VIR very well. If you have run at VIR, then in all likelyhood you may have seen it. It is for sale, and all details are shown at:

http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=641774

Please feel free to email or pm.
Thanks, vz
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      02-16-2012, 09:54 AM   #6
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Spec Miata is super competitive so make sure you know what you're getting into before going that route.
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      02-16-2012, 10:26 AM   #7
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You can pick up an E36 M3 for pretty cheap these days...gut it and you got a <3000lbs car.
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      02-16-2012, 08:56 PM   #8
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Not German. But you can get a pretty decent condition 350z within your budget. NASA has also just started a spec 350z group too.
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      02-16-2012, 09:21 PM   #9
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I tracked a '93 325is for 15 years among 4 East Coast tracks and thoroughly enjoyed and deeply miss this car I sold back in October. I tracked my E90 a couple weeks ago at PBIR and it was great, but not the same feeling and enjoyment as a properly set up E36. Keep the E90 as a DD and buy/build a E36 track car.
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      02-17-2012, 12:26 AM   #10
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If you want weekend + HPDE car, I think the best car is E46 M3. Although it is hard to find a decent one for 15k. You can try E36 M3. Pretty sure you can find one with decent track mods for 15k.

Another good track car is Porsche 944. Very good, balanced chassis. If the power is not enough, you can later add a LS3.

Btw, it is better to learn high performance driving with a light, underpowered momentum car. You'll be a better driver in the long term.


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Originally Posted by askjeeves View Post
Not German. But you can get a pretty decent condition 350z within your budget. NASA has also just started a spec 350z group too.
350z is very heavy, and it needs immediate BBK to be useful at the track. Also the V6 engine is very rough.
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      02-17-2012, 12:34 AM   #11
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I think you should consider a car that is not German. That makes the prices higher and there is no need for a luxury interior on a dedicated track car. My suggestion would be an Evo 9 for $9K and $6K of mods, or a used Mustang with a big engine. And in my interpretation of a track car I am imagining a stripped back seat and trunk, half cage and huge spoiler. It sounds like that may be too ricer/young for you though.
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      02-17-2012, 12:35 AM   #12
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An E36 M3 sounds like a good start, but I think I would like to try out a P car although not a 911.
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      02-17-2012, 12:47 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erhanh
If you want weekend + HPDE car, I think the best car is E46 M3. Although it is hard to find a decent one for 15k. You can try E36 M3. Pretty sure you can find one with decent track mods for 15k.

Another good track car is Porsche 944. Very good, balanced chassis. If the power is not enough, you can later add a LS3.

Btw, it is better to learn high performance driving with a light, underpowered momentum car. You'll be a better driver in the long term.


Quote:
Originally Posted by askjeeves View Post
Not German. But you can get a pretty decent condition 350z within your budget. NASA has also just started a spec 350z group too.
350z is very heavy, and it needs immediate BBK to be useful at the track. Also the V6 engine is very rough.
It isn't too difficult to get the z in the 3000-3100 lb range with a cage. Its not exactly a miata, but the weight isn't too bad. This at least applies to the earlier years since the car got progressively heavier. Also, the track model comes with the Brembos which hold up well with some stainless steel lines, race fluid, and proper pads.

But I'm biased since I've started down the path of turning my Z into a full time track car.
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      02-17-2012, 07:49 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by askjeeves View Post
It isn't too difficult to get the z in the 3000-3100 lb range with a cage. Its not exactly a miata, but the weight isn't too bad. This at least applies to the earlier years since the car got progressively heavier. Also, the track model comes with the Brembos which hold up well with some stainless steel lines, race fluid, and proper pads.

But I'm biased since I've started down the path of turning my Z into a full time track car.
I had a 350 as well, the HR model, bought as a stripper and used it as a track car. The car had great balance and plenty of power but not enough to get you into trouble. I tired of it quickly but I do regret selling it. It would have made a good platform for a S/C for that extra oomph.

I now have an Elise and a RX7 that are stripped, one for fun and one for Chumpcar. Neither are perfect though. I'm a hard man to please it seems.

The most fun I've had was in a 05 Z06 race car but i'm not ready for that and i don't want to trailer something all the time. I do that with the RX and it can be a real PITA.
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      02-18-2012, 05:34 PM   #15
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Thanks guys for the input. I think I'll just track my e90 this season and do some brake upgrades. At this point I have a hard time justifying another car that sits parked 90% the time. I could use that extra money for more m3 mods and track time.
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      02-20-2012, 03:53 PM   #16
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e36 m3 or a spec miata. I never went all out on my e36m but you can find base vehicle for 4-6k on craigslist if you look hard enough. The other 10 grand you can sink into safety, suspension, tires, and other prep.
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      06-03-2013, 10:48 AM   #17
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As you're contemplating a dedicated track car, I'd first suggest giving a lot of thought to where you want to go: will you always be happy doing HPDEs or is there a chance you might move to club racing?

I've done it and I've seen many others who build a fun dedicated track car and then eventually decide they want to do club racing. Often times people build their car just putting the parts they want to on the car and then the car is over-prepared for certain classes and under-prepared for others...or it's a car that's not competitive for any class.

If you think doing just HPDEs is the route you want to go, it's tough to beat E36 M3s bang for the buck. It's very competent, much easier on consumables than your E90, and the S52s will keep going and going. If you find one that has been well taken care of, you can typically save a lot of money buying a car that already has track suspension and other goodies.

For cheap racing, Spec Miata is tough to beat. You can do HPDEs in a car like that until you're ready to make the jump to racing. While the cost of entry is relatively minor, if you want to run at the front of the pack it can be very expensive - doing engine rebuilds relatively often, changing wheel bearings often to reduce rolling resistance, etc, etc. In a spec class every little thing you do can add up to a sum that can make a real difference...the guys at the front are spending a lot of money to make sure everything is working perfectly. Find a mentor that's been down this path and can help you know what you're getting in to.

Good luck!
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      06-03-2013, 01:32 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackbeast535 View Post
Thanks guys for the input. I think I'll just track my e90 this season and do some brake upgrades. At this point I have a hard time justifying another car that sits parked 90% the time. I could use that extra money for more m3 mods and track time.
The E9x M3 is a fantastic car to start tracking with. 16 days with your car really shouldn't be a problem. I know a few guys who put 25+ days on their pretty much stock M3, and they've got no issues whatsoever. I recommend starting with some good brake fluid (Motul RBF600 or Castrol SRF) and a set of track pads like the Pagid RS19. Invest in a good helmet and possibly a HANS before you start doing other mods (it's amazing how much a heavy helmet can affect your driving).

On a similar note, horsepower doesn't always equal fun. We track an E30 325i in Chumpcar, and it's an absolute riot. It's got nice balance, handles well and easy to throw around. The car is about 20 seconds a lap slower than my old M3 at Watkins Glen, but I always get out of the car with a grin just as wide! The car is super fun to drive, and equally fun to wrench on.

gottagofast13 has some really good advice as well. If you do a dedicated track car, think about the series you may want to run in, and just because the cost of the car may be low, as you get into it, you'll find racing costs can add up really fast.
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      06-03-2013, 02:23 PM   #19
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I would urge you to check out a budget E30 (325i, 2.5L Motronic injection, late 80's, Getrag 260 transmission). You don't need a roll cage, Recaros, or harnesses for HPDE. You don't need to spend anything like $15k. You do need an oil pan baffle and a crank scraper, and best to get an oil temp and oil pressure gauge. Even if you went to a shop for that stuff, it shouldn't cost $1k total to get installed. Just get the car and don't overthink the specs, as long as the compression is still good.

What you will get is a totally different driving experience then your E90, both weekends and on the track. Especially if you're going to the short tracks at Summit Point. It will give you the grins, I promise. If you totally love it, you can think about suspension mods. If you decide to move on later, they are easy to resell to one of your BMW CCA chapter track buddies for what you have in the car $ wise. And you don't need collision coverage or track insurance.

You can also learn how to maintain and repair the motor and driveline yourself. It's an easy motor to work on and there is TONS of help out there on the internet. It's great to flog a car, knowing a new clutch is $300 in parts and an adventure in wrenching. And you can get yourself involved in threads that have more useful things to discuss than whether DSC is better than manual for the track novice, or whether you should get Alpine White Metallic or Black paint. Sigh.
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      06-03-2013, 02:41 PM   #20
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I just picked up an E36 M3 for that very purpose. I don't think there is a better car for the budget minded enthusiast. Great feeling and handling car (it was car and driver's best at any price back when it came out, so even by today's standards it's not too shabby ) + parts and consumables are cheap and plentiful, 17" tires etc. And I can afford writing it off My E92 is paid off but I'd cry if I totaled it on the track.

E46 M3 is another fantastic option if you can afford it. They are a little more expensive to run and maintain (larger/wider tires, vanos, rear subframe to name a few) but popular for a reason.

Sidenote: whoever mentioned an LS3- I can't think of a worse engine for a dedicated track car. Need serious cooling and oiling mods to be reliable.
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      06-03-2013, 02:50 PM   #21
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P.S. this thread, while still potentially relevant to others, is nearly a year and a half old and was only bumped due to a spammer

But I guess we can ask the OP how many days he actually ended up doing in his e90 last year
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      06-03-2013, 03:24 PM   #22
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I've been on both sides of the spectrum even after I already had 100 track days or so, from lightly modded BMW's to full blown racecars. The only time a low hp racecar is worse than a nice street car is DE's where everybody there has 400+ hp and you're a chicane even well-driven. The racecar provides peace of mind that you can trailer your heap home if the worst happens, and a 6 pt cage lowers the likelihood of serious injury. And g-forces on slicks and with a light racecar make street M3's look silly (not hating, I love my M3 too!).

Dedicated racecars rock, although purpose built ones a bit more than the production-based. I suggest E36 M3 racecar if your budget is real tight, or Formula Mazda/Ford/SRF if it isn't as tight.
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