2017: Autocross domination begins

It was a busy week getting ready for a busy weekend, but a (nearly) flawless showing from the M3 made it worthwhile.

Saturday was a Solo School, where several of our nationals-level drivers spent time instructing us on everything from course walks to back-siding cones to keeping our eyes in the right places.

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Did I mention it was rainy and 38 degrees the whole day?

I spent time with four different instructors over 16 runs through the sample course they had set up. I got several comments about the unbelievable grip the car had, which made it a lot of fun to reveal that I was still running my snow tires! Lots of compliments on the car’s setup and how it handled – one instructor called it the fastest ride of the day, another called it the most fun ride of the day.

I was just happy to see the new radiator and fan working as I kept the car running for about a couple hours at a time – gotta stay warm when it’s cold outside and my wet jeans (soaked from the course walk) weren’t helping. Note to self – if you’re going to keep that stupid heavy stock seat, at least fix the seat heater.

Sunday was the first autocross of the season, and I managed 12th out of 99 raw, pulling ahead of several people that consistently beat me last year. I attribute most of this to all of the time I spent playing Forza over the winter.

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The new 245s up front provide loads of front end grip, the difference truly is noticeable. It was only about 45 degrees outside and the course was still damp (and muddy in places), so I’m looking forward to warmer temps and drier conditions to see what these things can really do.

The new wheels are a 35mm offset vs. the stock 41mm offset, and those 6mm really make a difference in the back, especially with a lowered car. Even with camber maxed out at -2.5 degrees and the fenders “massaged” via a baseball bat, the tire sidewalls rub under hard corners or bumps (like every bridge expansion joint on the interstate). I’m going to try a real fender-rolling tool and if that doesn’t work, it’s time for the angle grinder.

The Z3 steering rack is less effective than I’d hoped – you can see I still have to crank the wheel quite a bit. Keeping my hands at 9 and 3 isn’t possible, and the increased effort actually makes it a bit worse in fast, tight transitions. When I first bought the car, it had the original, leaky M3 rack. After swapping that rack for a freshly rebuilt M3 rack, the steering effort lightened up quite a bit, so I’m thinking about having this Z3 rack rebuilt in hopes of decreased effort while maintaining a quicker ratio.

So the next items on the never-ending to-do list are to roll the fenders and address the front left caliper bind that had my rotor at 360 degrees F after getting off the highway.

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