Northwest Grand Prix: Bent Valve’s and Egos

It has been hard to be enthusiastic about the Northwest Grand Prix weekend at Spokane County Raceway at the end of June but we the made the best of a bad situation. Over-rev’s of our M52 engine basically cost us 2 cylinder heads and one bottom end resulting in only one Novice Race credit by Michon Dini; not what we were hoping for as we always strive to finish races.  The one big positive note was Ian, Jared, Michon and myself had a great time wrenching and hanging out in the paddock together and we got to see friends like Curt Wikstrom, Zack George (who had even worse luck than us) and other Sport Touring racers while enjoying some fantastic Spokane weather.

We need to give a great BIG THANK YOU to Bryce Scott for putting on the race and really improving on the areas that needed help in 2016.  From setup to tech, everything went smooth.  Great work Bryce!

We also need to thank Russ Lundberg (welcome back to town), Joel and Adam from NW Safety and all of the other NWMS/ICSCC Volunteer’s for spending your entire weekend being beaten down by the wind and sun all for the sake of the sport, THANK YOU!

And finally our sponsors:  Purfect Logos, Condor Speed Shop, Family Law Spokane all stepped up and really helped get us ready for this race weekend.  Thank you all!
Next Level Automotive | Hard Motorsport | Motorsport FluidsMotorsport Hardware | Cyclops Salvage | Absent Speed Factory | DataPro Solutions | Northwest BMW Club

Not the Luckiest of Weekends

I have been trying for 2 weeks to put into words my thoughts and events surrounding the April 29th and 30th weekend racing with the Lucky Dog Racing League at The Ridge Motorsports Park but they’re just not coming to me so I will start with the basics.

It was a major privilege to be racing that weekend and I want to thank the Lucky Dog Staff especially Cathy for making us feel so welcomed even after we heard some grumbling in the paddock about our car “being too nice.”  It might have been “nice” (to the blind) but it certainly was not reliable and we have dyno sheets to show it only makes 215whp so it’s certainly not fast.

We are incredibly thankful for the workers and volunteers who spent the better part of their entire weekend stuck in a wooden cubicle so that we can play.  I’m equally as thankful that the weather was beautiful for the entire weekend except for 2 hours on Saturday.  That is unheard of in Shelton, Washington in April.

It was satisfying that we could help so many teams stay in the race with parts including transmission bolts, coil-pack and boots, wheel stud, tstat housing, brake fluid, engine oil, coolant and more. It was weird being the prepared team in the paddock even though we showed up with an open trailer and cherry picker in the back of the truck

It was a pleasure to see Curt all smiles after emerging from 2 flawless stints.  Curt has been waiting for seat time since the disaster that was Portland 2015 and we need to thank Curt for his patience and willingness to help out the team and for putting on an awesome show (see video below).

Seeing Gareth get to celebrate with his Wife after his stint and Michon drop nearly 20 seconds from his first stint to his last stint in his very first racing weekend was very impressive.  Dini performed wonderfully and the highlight of the weekend was getting to see him finish the race for us on Sunday.

Every team needs an “Ian.”  We would have been packing up and heading home on Saturday if it were not for the workhorse that we refer to as the “Hey, Hi, How Are You Guy?”  Thank you, Ian and the rest of the team for coming together to get an engine swap done when a retaining clip failed during Saturday’s qualifying.

Our Sponsors rock.  Tanner at Purfect Logos and Gary from Family Law Spokane really stepped up and helped us out in various ways from money to fully clothing our team and vinyl for the car.  Thank you both and the rest of our sponsors for continuing to make this racing dream a reality.  Next Level Automotive | Hard Motorsport | Motorsport Fluids | Motorsport Hardware | Cyclops Salvage | Absent Speed Factory | DataPro Solutions | Northwest BMW Club

Final thoughts:  Dry chemical tastes horrible, I don’t recommend it.  Always plug in your PCV Hose unless you have personal beef with your pulley’s and belts.  Brass fitting suck for temperature sensors.  Check your rag’s before they end up in your alternator.  Always check your vanos plug bolts unless you’re looking for that golden-sheen down the side of the car. Raining when it’s sunny out can be confusing, we understand Dini. And equally working a GoPro with gloves on is not easy but apparently is easy to zoom way in without trying, James.  Hood shocks might be a good idea if you value your windshield when you’re at the windiest track in the world.  Good friends and good times, a weekend we will never forget.

Picture and video time.  Big thank you to Kirk Myhre of www.myhrecreative.com for these two awesome pictures from the race on Sunday.  The rest of the gallery was taken with our GoPro and various phone camera’s.

The Finish

 Curt’s First Stint on Sunday

Trying our luck with some Lucky Dogs

We emerged from an extended hibernation last weekend with our #94 BMW E36 racking up over 90 minutes of very valuable track time at Spokane County Raceway as we prepare for 14 hours of racing on April 29th and 30th at The Ridge Motorsports Park. Winter was long but productive for the nwBMWracing Team as we look forward to racing with Lucky Dog Racing League and ICSCC in 2017.

We are very excited to announce the addition of Michon Dini to our team not only as our tuner, but as a driver in 2017.  “Dini,” as we call him, has been a huge help to the team in the past with tuning and providing parts for the car and we could not be happier to return the favor with some seat time in April and beyond.  Title Sponsor (Next Level Automotive) and driver Gareth Campbell will remain on driving for us in ICSCC and Lucky Dog Racing League events while Curt Wikstrom (2015 Sport Touring ICSCC Champion) will also share the drivers seat in April.

Here is some media from April 1st’s track day at Spokane County Raceway.  Photo’s by MML Racing Photography.

Photo by MML Racing Photography

Onboard with James Haile and Jared Correia comparing laps

Maverick from ‘Top Gun?’ More like Goose!

The title of the post says it all.  Brendan and James went to SCCA’s Top Gun in Helena, Montana and had a great time camping, shooting pictures by planes and on the drive over the mountains (Two-Way Radios made the 6 hour tow bearable).  However we probably won’t be going back to Helena anytime soon for the racing, at least with the #94 Race Car. Many, many things went wrong ending in the destruction of our front bumper and lip. Thus we packed up early and came home on Sunday spending the afternoon at a junkyard pulling parts for Brendan’s C10 Truck.  Good times and beautiful pictures made this a trip we will not forget.

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Preparing for the SCCA ‘Top Gun’ Challenge

July ended up being a very quiet month after Lucky Racing Dog League canceled at Spokane County Raceway.  Instead we prepped an Enduro Engine and acquired another donor E36 with a good M52B28.  Huge thank you to Tim Collins for looking out for the team and finding the car for us!

Jared from NW Autoworks, Alex from Bavarian Motors and James pulled, prepped, installed, timed some shricks and got the engine firing up with a tune from Michon Dini. Thank you everyone for your help!  Next stop is European Autohaus for an alignment and then onto Top Gun in Helena, Montana.  It has been 5 years since we last competed there in which James won CS in the Purple Squirrel M3.

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Northwest Motorsports Grand Prix: Wow

The Northwest Motorsports Grand Prix Triple gave us everything we could handle on June 17th-19th.  High Oil Temps/Engine issues, Gareth giving James a heart-attack after an off at turn 1, wet, hot and windy weather and lots of good hard racing with fellow ST friends.  In the end, we finished with a 3rd place and 2nd place in Group 8/MEO and three 4th place finishes in Group 4 and 1.  Most importantly we had a great time hanging out with our friends and family.

Huge Thank YOU to Ian Olsen and Jared Correia keeping the #94 running all weekend long despite nothing but engine issues from day one of racing and a certain Title Sponsor *cough* Gareth *cough* putting the car into the gravel at turn 1 :D.  We didn’t miss a session all weekend long because of you guys.  Have a beer, Gentleman!  Equally we had a great time hanging with Nikki Haile, Jodie Waner, Tommy Ridgeway and Alexis Ferriby.  Thank you TEAM!

And as always, thank you to all of the volunteers and course workers for keeping us safe.  We appreciate you and hope you had a good time despite the crazy weather (I have been there in those stands and it can be miserable).  We also need to say GREAT JOB to Bryce Scott of Scott Motorsports for taking on the Race Chairman position and delivering a great race.  Thank you, Bryce!

And finally thank you to Mad Mike of MML Racing Photography for taking bunch of pictures of our #94 BMW E36 325is Sponsored by Next Level Automotive | Condor Speed Shop | Absent Speed Factory | Hard Motorsport | Motorsport Hardware | Motorsport Fluids | Family Law Spokane | DataPro Solutions, INC | NOVATIME | Cyclops Salvage Used Parts | NW Autoworks | Northwest BMW Club | Purfect Logos

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Missing the Ridge and Friends

After the last update all plans to race at The Ridge Motorsports Park fell apart due to engine issues.  We took the number 94 car to the Code Red Racing Track Day and within 40 minutes of testing had an oil pressure issue.  Ended up pulling the recently replaced engine yet again and Brian Bogdon delivered another M52 from our tuner Michon Dini.  Truth is the team got the 3rd engine this year installed and running but without any testing on a track I wasn’t willing to take the chance of racing untested for 6 hours and instead spent the weekend Auto Crossing with Jared from NW Autoworks.  While I was incredibly saddened at having to cancel the trip it was a nice, stress-free weekend that was badly needed for the entire team.

Thank you to the team of Brendan, Ian, Jared, Michon and especially Brian and Lisa Bogdon for delivering an engine across Washington.  We will be ready for the Northwest Motorsport Triple Grand Prix on June 17th-19th.

Here are a few pictures from recent Track Days at Spokane County Raceway taken by Mad Mike from MML Racing Photography.

CSCC Festival of Endurance: At least it didn’t rain

Before we get to the summary of the weekend we must say a big THANK YOU to Cascade Sports Car Club and especially Chris Heinrich, Course Workers, Volunteers, Friends, Family and of course our cherished Sponsors for allowing us the opportunity to come race at Portland International Raceway.  What an amazing facility PIR is and we cannot wait to come back in 2016.  Thank you everyone for a great 2015!

At least it did not rain.  We arrived with the car 3 hours late to Portland due to a number of reasons but mainly because of a windshield defrost grid taking an entire day and then some to lay (and of course we didn’t even need it).  Our team did an amazing job scrambling and working until midnight on Friday night getting the final preparations done. 100% team effort which was incredible to see as James and Jared were exhausted from the tow and the load from earlier in the day.

We made the practice session where all drivers got to experience our E36 running on some street tires as the track was wet but quickly drying.  We made the call to switch to our Hankook C51 dry tires just before the start of the Mini Enduro 2-Hour Race and boy did we nail it.  Brian started at the back (gingerly), 8th in class and within 30 minutes had worked his way up until 2nd place in class behind our friends from Lowe Group Racing and their GTR M3 passing pretty much all of our competitors with ease even some with 2 more cylinders and twice the displacement.  Brian was driving fantastic and the changes we made really woke the car up until disaster struck.  Pushing a little too hard in traffic trying to pass the Bloising Saddles M3, Brian went to grab 4th from 3rd gear and went into 2nd instead.  Game over.  He was able to coast back to the pits where our crew work feverishly trying to get our M52 to re-fire but it was not to be, our day was done an hour into the 10 hours.

While we are incredibly saddened at the way our season ended we are also delighted to have been able to share in Brian Bogdon’s Mini Enduro Season Championship, and it did not rain.  We had a great time hanging out at the track with our racing buddies and will look back fondly on this weekend despite not finishing the race.  Our car and our team got to be part of a championship and for that I am truly grateful for Brian, thank you.

Finally, please support the sponsors that support us. Racing is incredibly tough to do unless you’re rich to begin with and without sponsors I don’t think we would be racing. Our sponsors go above and beyond to ensure we get to race and for that, we cannot thank them enough for their support in 2015 and into 2016.

Next Level Automotive | Condor Speed Shop | Absent Speed Factory | Hard Motorsport | Cyclops Salvage Used Parts | Family Law Spokane | DataPro Solutions, INC | Northwest BMW Club | Purfect Logos | NW Autoworks

More pictures and videos are on the way but for now here an excellent picture taken by the young and talented Flying Bye Photo. Thank you Austin and appreciate the kind comments about our situation.

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Northwest Grand Prix; Good Results, Disappointing Performance

We went into this weekend with the same goals we always set, finish races and hope for good results. We did just that. James finished 3rd in two Group 4 Sport Touring Races (behind Brian and Curt) while Brian Bogdon and James finished two 1-Hour Mini Enduro races taking home two pieces of very nice first place hardware made by Advanced Auto Fabrication. James ended up parking the car on Sunday instead to flag at turn 8 as the supporting club was short on workers.  Huge Thank You to Brendan and Ashley McIntire of Absent Speed Factory for coming over from Seattle to crew and work on the car all weekend. And a thank you to Alex for spending several nights with us prepping the car and fixing all wiring issues. Other then a small oil leak from the dipstick the car performed flawlessly all weekend.

Thank You to ALL of the volunteers, corner workers, Spokane County Raceway and Northwest Motorsports for allowing us to race and for putting on another great triple race weekend. We also need to give a big shout out to Bryce Scott (Scott Motorsports) who went above and beyond this year to organize and get this event into shape.  Also James’ work, DataPro Solutions stepped up and supported the race as Title Sponsor after O’Reilly’s backed out last minute, thank you Bob Bordonaro and DataPro Solutions for your support!

And as always, THANK YOU to our 2015 Sponsors:  Cyclops Salvage, Hard Motorsport, Absent Speed Factory, NW Autoworks, DataPro Solutions, Next Level Automotive, Northwest BMW Club and of course Family Law Spokane.

As for the disappointing performance, we made big changes to the car removing all aero and raising the ride height by an inch on all corners and switched from Hoosiers to a wider BFG R1. We did this with the idea that the car would be slipperier in a straight line and most importantly preserve our only set of tires for the weekend. The results were a loss of 3 seconds per lap on average and a car that James and Brian struggled with all weekend. We now know what not to do for the 8+2 Enduro season closer at Portland International Raceway on October 18th and look forward to finishing the season strong and maybe earning Brian an overall Enduro Championship for Group 8.

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2015 Planned Weekends

We are still building our schedule for 2015 as clubs and tracks release their calendars. We have circled the following dates to attend thus far.  Lots of work until we head to Oregon Raceway Park in 10 weeks to do.  New cage is coming along nicely, new engine is being prepped and we have lots of new upgrades to our number 362 325is Race Car for 2015 coming.  Our 311 M3 will be running a S54 this year as well.  2015 is looking bright.

  • March 29th at Oregon Raceway Park for Test and Tune
  • April 18-19th at The Ridge for 6 Hour Enduro
  • May 23-24th at Oregon Raceway Park for double race and weekend
  • June 19-21st at Spokane County Raceway for a triple race and points weekend
  • July 31st-August 2nd at Laguna Seca for NASA National Western Championship
  • August 14th at Spokane County Raceway for HPDE/Time Attack
  • September 5-7th at Mission Raceway for triple race and points weekend (Te native depending on personal schedules and weddings)
  • October 17th at Portland International Raceway for 8 Hour Enduro

Cool video from the NASA Western Championship’s to get pumped up about 2015.

Oregon Raceway Park Recap

With one week to go before the Bruce Baggett Grand Prix hosted by Team Continental we had our car prepped, trailer loaded and the car was at Advanced Auto Fabrication getting a little more power on their Dyno.  Hank Moore helped us troubleshoot MAF/AFR numbers and with a good tune from our friend Michon Dini, our lonely junkyard M50 made 187whp and 187ftlbs.  Solid numbers from an engine with exhaust and tune only.  We ended up removing our 540 MAF and 3.5″ Intake system due to lean conditions and went back to OEM on the intake side.  We were ready to race, or so we thought.

We made it to beautiful Oregon Raceway Park Thursday night and setup for Friday’s track day and the task of learning ORP Counter Clockwise.  The day did not go without some issues.  James lost power going down Valkyrie Hill and nearly went off the track due to a loose terminal cable on the battery.  Adam then went out and had overheating issues, coolant temps hitting 240 degrees!  He brought it in quickly and Jared began doing a coolant flush before James’ next session.  He was able to go out and run a 20 minute session without issues, again we thought we were ready to race.

Saturday morning and race day brought qualifying and finally some actual lap times so we can measure how we’re doing.  James qualified with a 2:00 minute flat but had to cut qualifying short because of coolant temps once again.  Adam and Jared again flushed the cooling system removing tons of “mississippi mud” as Jared called it.  At this point we realized the thermostat wasn’t functioning properly and they started tearing apart the cooling system, radiator, shroud, tstat housing, etc.  It was quite a task to get it done before our race time.  Tempatures outside were in the 90s and the engine/cooling system was burning hot.  Despite these conditions Jared and Adam continued to push and nearly got the car onto the grid, falling just a few minutes short and a DNS.

With the car repaired we recruited Zack George to co-drive during the Feature Endurance Race with James.  James started near the back of the grid and put in some great laps making up 6 places in the first handful of laps.  The stint was not without incidents though with near misses of spinning cars at turn 14 and at the blind right leading onto Valkyrie.  Several quick lockups/offs at the bottom of Valkyrie gave a position back near the end of James’ stint when he handed it over to Zack.

Zack only had a couple of laps in before our ST friend James Hudson boiled his Legacy’s brakes and went off at 14 (thankfully unhurt and the ultra-cool Legacy Racer will be back). A full course black brought Zack back into the pits where we gave him a couple of tips from what we could see and he picked up another second, just edging James’ best time and bringing the car home a solid 5th place.  Zack did a great job and we could not be happier to have completed our first Endurance Race in many attempts.  Thank you Zack for doing a great job and bringing the car home in one piece.

Sunday would be a very long day for everyone on the team.  James woke up sick at 7am not able to eat or keep anything down.  128oz of water later he was in the car for qualifying where he knocked another second off his best time but failed to report to the scales after not being able to see which class was going to be scaled.  This meant he was DQ from qualifying and had to start at the rear of the pack.  Un-phased by the news, we looked forward to a very fun fight through the pack.

15 minutes before the race and James was in the Honeybucket dry heaving, still sick to his stomach from the morning.  Despite being sick he started the race and battled hard making up many places and catching the more powerful E36s in the class with great race pace.  Pushing for 15 minutes and running out of fluids in the incredibly hot race car lead James to retire early because of dizziness.  While we are disappointed with the result, there was just no way he could continue to safely race and we finished with DNF.

We always set out to finish every race we enter but this weekend finishing the Endurance Race made the entire weekend worth it despite the setbacks.  Thank you to all the Marshall’s and Corner Workers, Team Continental, Sherman County and Oregon Raceway Park staff for putting on a truly fantastic event.  We will be back next year.

Sunday did not end with a peaceful drive home, however.  We got stuck for over an hour on 84 while a trailer burned to the ground and started a wildfire.  Then 40 miles from home a rear trailer tire let go leaving us there until almost midnight until rescue (Dani) came.  If you’re going to tow and own a large cargo trailer, it’s best to have spares.  Lesson learned the hard-way on that night.

Oregon Raceway Park Preparation

We are two weeks away from attending the Bruce Baggett Grand Prix II – Bruce’s Revenge at our favorite track in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon Raceway Park, where we have not raced since 2012 in our M5.  Adam Harding of Hard Motorsport and James Haile will pilot our BMW E36 325is Racecar, built by NW Autoworks and sponsored by DataPro Solutions and Family Law Spokane, in two run groups and the 1 Hour Mini Enduro.

We have been spending as much time on the car as possible developing and making it race ready despite the heat in Spokane over the last month.  We are hoping to have a little more horsepower and torque by race day and a rear wing installed.  While we know we won’t be the fastest out there by a long shot, we just want to finish the weekend again and have fun with our race friends.

Saturday Schedule
Practice 8-815AM
Qualifying Group 1 940AM
Qualifying Gruop 4 1055AM
Race Group 1 130PM
Race Group 4 330PM
Race Gruop 8 6PM (Endurance Race)

Sunday Schedule
Qualifying Group 4 955AM
Qualifying Group 1 1155AM
Race Group 4 235PM
Race Group 1 5:15PM

Dave Glubrecht, Cody Smith, James Haile at NW Grand Prix 2012

Dave Glubrecht, Cody Smith, James Haile at NW Grand Prix 2014

Long week, lots of updates

It was a very busy week for our race team members.  Jared spent the beginning of the week removing old OEM subframe bushings and installing new solid Bimmerworld replacements at NW Autoworks.  Meanwhile I was out picking up and dropping off various parts and our new tow rig, a 1996 F350 Dually Powerstroke 7.3l from Kars’r’Us in Spokane, Washington. Hopefully anytime we attend a race weekend, we will have at least two team cars running. That said, we have also made plans to run in the Portland 8 Hour Enduro (6+2) with Anthony Kalcounis coming back to drive with us again.  We will continue to work on the car up until race day in October.

I need to say a big THANK YOU to Ian Olsen for the truck hookup, you and your lot make used car purchasing painless.  Also thank you to Adam from Hard Motorsport for the Brake Duct Backing Plates, Hank from Advanced Auto Fabrication for pushing out our axles and cleaning up our oilpan, and Bimmerworld for sending out parts so quickly.

The end of the week brought Tommy and Brendan over to help Jared and I at NW Autoworks.  Jake even showed up Saturday and helped out.  Always nice to see our friends and we got a lot of “hang up” issues resolved this weekend.  Thank you guys and see you next weekend at The Ridge for the 6 Hour Enduro.

Weekend Update with Pictures and Plans

Our S54 M3 Race Car cage is coming along much quicker then we could have ever wanted.  Before too long we will be finishing the final strip down and sending it off to be blasted and painted.  Dave and Hank from Advanced Auto Fabrication are amazing when it comes to building SAFE cages as we learned last July.

Meanwhile at NW AutoWorks, Jared and I went over to Duvall, Washington and picked up the S54 for our M3 build at Advanced Auto Fabrication but we also picked up our new Track/Race Car rebuild.  Jared and I wasted no time getting right into the car and have the blown S52 out of the car and will begin rebuilding a a used S52 block.  We are aiming to have this car at Spokane County Raceway on April 26th/27th for the first ASNW Auto Cross of 2014.

The Ridge Rain Dance

The Ridge provides some of the best racing the Pacific Northwest has to offer but on this weekend, keeping the car on track was first priority over racing your competitors.  We arrived early Friday morning but quickly found that we wouldn’t just need rain tires, we would need inflatable rafts for tires!  Despite the circumstances, Adam drove great picking up his first road racing win in the pouring rain.  Even more importantly the M3 ran flawless all weekend and is in one piece ready for the 2014 season and possibly some winter racing in NASA down south.

In other news from The Ridge, Cody Smith driving the Advanced Auto Fabrication PRO3 took home the PRO3 Championship for 2013 by finishing 3rd place, ahead of Chuck Hurley.  Congratulations Cody, Hank and all of the AAF Race Team on a fantastic season!  You guys worked endlessly to not only put Cody upfront but keep him there.  What an effort.