It was a pretty exciting day. My M3 was at my house, and I was driving to Palm Beach International Raceway for a private track rental put on by Street Car Drags. My buddy David hopped in the car early in the morning for what would turn out to be a pretty monumental drive, for both good and bad. We cruised up there with not even a hiccup, got some Dunkin Donuts, and got between 25 and 30 miles per gallon in the process. Is this really a swap car? It’s my perfect car, that’s what it is.
So before I get into the details, let me fill you in on what’s been going on with the car. I had it tuned by Jeremy Formato with Fasterproms, and as usual William Lujan, owner of Lujan Motorsports down here in Miami went the extra mile for me. After new plugs and a few little fixes that I didn’t even ask him to do, the car put down some really impressive power. Willy made an overlay of my stock BMW 3 Liter S50 dyno run earlier in the year to now. I’ll let you guys draw conclusions on which is better.
Pretty amazing. While the curve of the old inline six is impressively flat, the LS3 definitely makes a lot more power and torque. How does this translate on the road? In a word: amazing. I came away shocked at how well the car ran after my first drive, due in no small part to the Toyo R888 tires. I never thought a 245/40/17 could hook so well. The car is a handful in first gear, but dead hooks in second and third. Wow does it feel good. The other part of note- the Porsche 911 Brembo brake calipers with Carbotech pads are absurd- your face muscles hurt from how hard this car stops. The brakes are very loud and dust a good bit, but these are race pads. They stop great when cold, and ridiculous when hot, and that’s all I care about.
Over the next two days I feverishly organized and tidied up the wiring and engine bay so it was clean and functional and nothing would get damaged. I took the car to get aligned, did my final checks, and went home Saturday night. The car was amazingly sedate on the highway, due in no small part to the viper-spec 6th gear: a .50 overdrive. In layman’s terms, the car turns around 1500rpm @ 70mph on the highway. Seriously. Here’s proof!
So onto the drag racing event. On the way there the car started to feel a little loose at the back. One of the brake calipers bolts backed out. Luckily my buddy Greg, a former Visteon Engineer, met me near the track and went with David and found a metric bolt to replace the one that fell out. Tightened them down snug, and we were back on our way, minus and hour or two of time.
Got to PBIR safely with no other problems. The car was behaving great and getting looks from everyone. Went through tech no problem, I think I put down that I thought I’d run a 12.90. That was a lie, but hey I didn’t think I’d go THAT much faster my first time driving the car on the drag strip. I lined up against a GTR for my first run. Fitting competition I suppose? I launched the car very gently, slipped the clutch at around 1600rpm. This is my first pass after all. I rolled on the gas in 1st to not spin the tires- to my surprise the track was HOOKING today. I continued full throttle, shifting gingerly to 2nd, 3rd, and the bottom of 4th. The GTR wasn’t pulling away very fast… this was a really interesting feeling coming from the mid to high 13 second purple car I used to drive. I drove around to the timing booth feeling excited that the car made it down the track safely. The run felt quick, but the car had so much more in it. I was absolutely ecstatic when I saw that both the Purple People Eater and the GTR were in the 11s!
11.831 @ 123.27?!?!?! A 2.067 60 foot not even trying? Holy crap! My old friend Brand Rudich was there with his glorious Nikon and camera skills. I left them watermarked as they’re his, but they’re the only good ones I have. Here is the car coming back from the run.
Of course, I ran right back out there to do another run. Daniel was lining me up in the groove, and I decided to do a little dry hop just to check the traction of the tires and heat them up. Wrong move. I immediately heard a grinding noise and knew something broke, and it was drive train related. The car wouldn’t go anywhere. Oops, broke my drive shaft. That did it for my racing day, thank goodness for AAA. I know the car has much faster than an 11.83 in it. Not too shabby for a road race car on DOT competition road race tires.
All in all, awesome day, big thank you to everyone involved in this project. Vorshlag Motorsports for the awesome swap kit and answering my ridiculous questions every time I called, Lujan Motorsports (Willy you’re awesome!), PSI Conversions, Jason Harding @ Katech (This motor is so great!), Jeremy Formato @ FasterProms, Lucian, Bill Guthrie @ Spray It Racing, Daniel Rotolante, my faithful mechanic friend Frank Rodriguez, Jason Lappas for wrenching and encouragement, and most of all THANK YOU to my wife Emily for putting up with my unrelenting car obsession. I’m truly blessed to be able to follow my passion.
As for the drive shaft, a 4130 Chromoly Steel piece is already here, and I’m taking the opportunity to freshen up my aging 2 clutch stock limited slip differential and update it to a 4 clutch 60% lockup unit from Bimmerdiffs. I can’t wait to get more video of this car up, but for now, take it easy, stay safe, and keep your racing at the track!