BMW Ultimate Drive – Susan G. Komen for the Cure

BMW Ultimate Drive – Susan G. Komen for the Cure

While I was in Birmingham on April 24, I joined some fellow members of the Heart of Dixie chapter of the BMW CCA to drive the fleet of Susan G. Komen cars from Birmingham to Knoxville. For every mile driven, BMW donates $1 for breast cancer research. I drove a 2007 Z4 Coupe on this leg.

The BMW Ultimate Drive was also in Huntsville on April 27 so I took Dad down with me, and we were able to test drive the 335i coupe, the 335i sedan, and the new X5 SAV. The 335i has an impressive, wonderful engine, but the car overall leaves me a bit underwhelmed. I’m hoping that powertrain ends up in a 1-series soon.

BMW Ultimate Drive – Susan G. Komen for the Cure 2007
Project: Makeshift Racing

Project: Makeshift Racing

On December 22, 2006 I bought a black on black BMW 325is manual coupe to replace my gold 325i manual sedan that was totaled. On February 1, 2007 I got caught in an ice storm and slid off the road, into a ditch, and turned on the roof in the “new” car. State Farm declared that one also a total loss, but it was still in decent condition. Since February it has been an on-going project for David (my brother) and I to repair and convert to a trackable driver.

I’ll post more details on the car later, but its due for its first track day at Barber Motorsports Park on Memorial Day weekend, immediately followed by an SCCA National autocross on June 1-2 in Huntsville. On July 17-18 we’ll be going to Deal’s Gap.

1992 BMW 325is Blk/blk Coupe
Caster, camber, toe

Caster, camber, toe

Pointed the Right Way

Camber, Caster and Toe: What Do They Mean?

The three major alignment parameters on a car are toe, camber, and caster. Most enthusiasts have a good understanding of what these settings are and what they involve, but many may not know why a particular setting is called for, or how it affects performance. Let’s take a quick look at this basic aspect of suspension tuning.

End of an era

End of an era

The gold 1992 BMW 325i sedan is no more. State Farm has declared it a total loss after a front-end altercation in a parking lot (no-fault accident).

I bought this car in March 2005 with 172,000 miles. As of December 2006 it has 233,400 miles, still on the same engine, transmission, clutch, etc. That’s 61,400 miles in 20 months, or almost exactly 100 miles per day average.

It made two appearances on track — Talladega Gran Prix (TGPR) and Barber Motorsports Park, and three trips to Deal’s Gap (Tail of the Dragon). I’ve salvaged the suspension (Bilstein Sports/BavAuto springs) to reuse on the next car, along with my personal additions.

RIP

Accident damage

BMW E36 Links

BMW E36 Links

These are mainly for my own reference, as I’m at work and won’t have these bookmarks when I get home to work on the car. I bought another BMW today, same as the one I already have — a 1992 E36 325i sedan, 5 speed manual with 201,000 miles in decent condition. Definitely needs some attention, but that’s what this is for.

Installing a Valentine One Radar Detector
E36 electric window fix
E36 back seat removal
Gauges
Other guides
BMW DIY
Understeer.com
Installing gauge cluster trim rings

Live from the BMW Performance Center, Spartanburg, SC

Live from the BMW Performance Center, Spartanburg, SC

7:50am – Got in around 7:30pm ET yesterday, 6h 15m drive from Pulaski to Greer, SC. Terrible traffic in Atlanta. Got a good night of sleep, woke up early. About to leave hotel and head to the Performance Center. Updates to follow.

4:45pm – Back at the hotel. Activities today included slalom course, ABS braking exercise, skidpad, another slalom, oval skidpad/mini-race, powerslides, and timed autocross. I had the best autox single run time, but only by a couple tenths. I’m exhausted.

Morning started out slow, classroom session was overly simplistic and nothing new (define apex, etc.) and the first few exercises were easy, but looking back built up both confidence in the car and set some benchmarks for the rest of the day. I’m the youngest in the group by quite a few years. Many in the class don’t even own BMWs. One of the instructors does WERA road racing. Going to get dinner and get some sleep. More tomorrow.

Day 2: Wow! Delayed posting this, I’m back at work, but what an awesome time. Due to special circumstances, we got bumped up to M3s from the 330is we drove on day 1. Amazing cars, and I may be convinced on SMG now. More slalom, skidpad, emergency braking, emergency lane change, just at faster speeds. Also more autox. Then we got to test-drive the Z4M Roadster, M5, M6, 760Li, 650Ci, and X5 4.8L on the autox course. After that we took the X5s out to the off-road course for a bit of fun.

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Quotes

Quotes

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” -Benjamin Franklin (attr)

Numquam ponenda est pluritas sine necessitate.

People should not fear their government. Governments should fear their people.

“I think we risk becoming the best informed society that has ever died of ignorance.” -Reuben Blades

“Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” -Ronald Reagan

“I don’t believe in a government that protects us from ourselves.” -Ronald Reagan

Merritt-Pop

Merritt-Pop

I went with my grandfather today to check out the popcorn crop. We met with Charles Johnson, writer/editor for The Furrow magazine (published by John Deere) and he interviewed us about the popcorn and how its grown, etc.

The crop is going to be lean this year, which isn’t good, but considering how dry this summer has been it could be worse.

Merritt-Pop 2006

Merritt Popcorn Company

BMW Performance Driving School

BMW Performance Driving School

BMW

So it looks like I’m going to the BMW Performance Driving School on September 15-16 (tentative, date subject to change).

I think this will be a bit low-key: emphasis on car control, maybe a bit of skidpad. Not really an advanced track school or anything, but hey, its a(n expensive) freebie.

This is in Spartanburg, SC at the BMW Performance Center. I may try to work in a drive through Deal’s Gap on the way there or back. Or I may decide to fly and skip the 8 hour drive there & back.

Update Dates confirmed, hotel reservation made.

Little of this, little of that.

Little of this, little of that.

Some cool stuff I’ve found lately:

· RumbleStripRadio: a motorcycle racing podcast, covers MotoGP, WSBK, AMA…
· MotoGPod: another, focus on MotoGP
· Rossi Files: blog of Valentino Rossi news, etc.

Some of you know I recently got a used Powerbook G4. So far, I love it. Here are some Apple links.

· Applepedia: Like Wikipedia, but for Apple/Mac stuff.
· VersionTracker: software repository

The pictures are posted from our trip to The Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park. And if you missed it, my album is still online from the AMA Superbike round at Barber back in April.

Barber Motorsports – AMA Superbike – 2006
Barber 2006 – The Porsche 250

The AMA Superbike album also has pictures from the awesome museum there. Check it out!

Justice and the Government

Justice and the Government

Some people may prefer a strict application of the law, across the board. Some may prefer a lenient application of the law, across the board. A case can be made for both. I also think a case can be made for strict application of the law as applied to the government, but a lenient application as applied to the people. But the least defensible position, it seems to me, is the one that dominates: Strict justice for the people and leniency for the government.

-Tim Lynch, via TheAgitator.com

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

28-30 July – The Porsche 250, Barber Motorsports
21-23 Sept – Deal’s Gap trip (tentative)
23-24 Sept – WERA Nationals, Barber Motorsports

Pictures and such will be posted post-event. Hopefully can work in a track day or two in the fall too.

Call out the fire brigade

Call out the fire brigade

I got called in to cover for one of the night shift guys last night; not my favorite thing to do but overtime pay is kickin’ rad, so I went in. Pretty quite night as far as work goes, but I got a call from my brother (David) at 01:45. He told me that one of the warehouses from Dad’s store was on fire — that might be bad enough, but to make matters worse, it was the building I use as my garage. It’s less than a mile from my house, so I keep my motorcycles and the Jaguar parked there as I don’t have a garage at home.

By some stroke of good fortune, I had one car with me at work and the other parked at my house, and both my bikes just happened to be parked in other buildings. There was a truck parked in there that David and Jason pushed outside, since the fire department wasn’t going to do anything about it.

The FD basically just did damage control to keep the fire from spreading to adjacent buildings. Its a total loss, but somehow the front corner where I kept my tools, spare parts, tires, etc. for my bikes pretty much only has water damage, it didn’t burn.

All my stuff was basically salvageable, and of course the whole place was insured so I’m sure that will turn out OK. I’m waiting to hear back from the insurance agent now. Dad is out of town, so David and I are taking care of it.

Pictures after the jump.

Ariel Atom coming to the US

Ariel Atom coming to the US

Also recently announced, the Ariel Atom will be coming to the US through Brammo Motorsports.

Pricing will start in the low 30s and go from there depending on options. Engine options include a 300HP supercharged Ecotec. 0-60 in 2.something seconds, or roughly as fast as a litrebike like an R1 or ZX-10R. Mainly a track weapon, it will be street legal as a kit car in many states. If you aren’t familiar, this is the car that Clarkson hailed on Top Gear and set a near-record lap time with the Stig at the wheel — just behind a Ferrari Enzo and Maserati MC-12.

Build mine with the best Brembo brake kit available, please.

Busy weekend for the Bimmer

Busy weekend for the Bimmer

This week we’ve done rear shocks, front brakes, oil change, power steering flush, new rear tires, and rotate/balance. New exhaust gaskets go in today, bleed/flush brake fluid today, new front struts on order, and clips for the door mouldings on order (all of them started coming loose at once?!?).

Car turned 193,000 miles this week. Will add almost 1,500 more over the next week driving to all those events and participating.

Cops who… catch crooks?

Cops who… catch crooks?

The cop who nicks crooks

What a foreign concept that’s become — police working to curb crime, arrest criminals, and not just generate revenue with silly traffic citations, needless “drug-related” arrests, and harassment of law-abiding citizens. Maybe some US police chiefs can take note of this?

World’s Greatest… Radio Scanners

World’s Greatest… Radio Scanners

Article on Gizmodo.com by Alex Roy, famous Gumballer from Team Polizei, reviewing radio scanners to help avoid the highway patrol.

Personally, I have all the THP frequencies programmed in my handheld scanner, but I never pick up anything from them. I’m using frequencies from an old list however, so they may have gone to a digital trunked system. I still find a Valentine One to be the single most important driving aid. That investment alone has saved me thousands.