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Competition

In February, an interesting email popped into my Inbox. It was from the chief instructor at my local BMW CCA chapter asking if I’d be interested in attending a locally organized, nationally supported BMW CCA Racing School. Apparently I wasn’t the only one to respond with an enthusiastic “YES!” as there were 21 of us in attendance for the event this past weekend. I’d heard nothing but rave reviews about the racing school that BMW CCA runs. I found out first-hand this weekend everything I’d heard was true.

I said hello to Saturday at 4:15am, was out the door by 5 and arrived at the track at 6:30 sharp. I was greeted with a storm. Correction: it was pouring. Good thing I’d left those Direzza’s on from PPIR because I needed every ounce of traction I could find. There were three separate incidents in the first session where I had to collect the car from the brink… except when I didn’t. Exiting T7 I hit one of many sheets of water and hydroplaned off the other side. Two feet in (again), kept the engine running (again!) and Star Spec traction had me four-wheeling my way back on track, offline, dragging what I’m sure was a yard of mud behind me. I discovered at the entry of T9A the checker had been thrown.

The weather cleared over the course of the morning and our exercises got more and more exciting. We started with 3-wide side-by-sides, progressed to some leapfrog action and wrapped up Day 1 practicing rolling starts. Sunday morning started with a ‘shake the car out’ session, more rolling starts and a restart in the second session. We simulated qualifying after lunch and then gridded ourselves in random order for a race simulation as our last session on track.

I wasn’t prepared for how much fun it was to compete against the people I’d been practicing with all weekend. I started 6th in the field. The green flag flew and we went 5-wide into T1. I was mid-track through T1 and was passed. I returned the favor through T2. Was setting up for more of the same in T3 when a fellow E36 M3 closed the door on me. Then it was a drag race on the back straight. We continued on at that pace for 30 minutes. I was sweating buckets and grinning ear to ear when the checker was thrown. For the record, I finished 5th.

It’s official. I’m hooked! I’ll be submitting to BMW CCA Club Racing for my racing license in short order. There’s a lot of driver safety equipment to be purchased (suit, hans, SA helmet) before I can officially begin wheel-to-wheel with a rookie license. You may recall Jeff’s E36 is fully prepped for racing (only missing a fire system). He’s very generously offered to let me jump into that and practicing qualifying via Time Trials in TTB before competing really racing. It’s early in the season but I can already tell it’s going to be a great one. WOO!!

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