Here’s one of the photos that resulted from that ride hanging out the window, the GTS field on No Name Straight.

What’s the best advice someone would give you if you are considering racing in a given class? Nine times out of 10, he or she would tell you to go and talk to people who are driving in that class and ask them questions. The more people you can ask, the better. The faster the drivers you ask, the better.

Under normal circumstances, talking to the fastest German Touring Series in different NASA regions would involve a lot of travel and a fair amount of walking. Let Speed News save you the trouble. This story will be like walking through the pits of different NASA regions and talking to the fastest drivers out there.

We contacted a variety of drivers from the ranks of the German Touring Series and asked them questions about their class. What is the one thing people should know about GTS? What is the best advice you can give to some considering building a car for competition in the German Touring Series? And finally, why did you choose to race in German Touring Series? Naturally, a few of the drivers gave similar answers, so we’ve culled their responses to avoid repetition.

We’ll be taking the same approach in future stories with drivers of other popular NASA classes. For now, here are their responses. So, consider this your “paddock walk” to speak with the best drivers in NASA’s German Touring Series.

Randy Mueller, GTS4, GTS3, NASA Florida

Q: What is the best advice you can give to some considering building a car for competition in the German Touring Series?

A: “If you are going to build a car you should look at the cars that are up front, find out what shop(s) had their hands on the cars even if it is just for advice and guidance. There is a reason the cars are at the front, and taking advantage of the knowledge and years of experience is the quickest way to the front of the line. I have been racing for 15 years now and we have lots of customers that look to us for support, but by the same token, we still look to Bimmerworld for help with our programs because they have a wealth of knowledge and go-fast parts.”

Q: Why did you choose to racing in German Touring Series?

A: “Since I was a kid I have always favored European cars in general and my heart is with BMWs. I had been racing for a few years in a different series and the simplistic power-to-weight classing structure GTS and racing with other German marks just had an allure that drew me too it.”

Ralf Lindackers, NASA Great Lakes

Q: What is the one thing people should know about racing in the German Touring Series?

A: “Simple straight forward rules, competitive racing, great people. I guess that’s three things.”

Q: What is the best advice you can give to some considering building a car for competition in the German Touring Series?

A: “Do not try to convert a street car into a racecar. Try to find a built racecar. There are great cars on the market. You will save a lot of time and money. Of course, you should do some research before you write the check. Once you have a good base platform, you can still improve and develop the car to fit your style.”

Q: Why did you choose to racing in German Touring Series?

A: “I chose GTS because I always had a love of German sports cars like Porsche, BMW and Audi. I started out taking my Porsche 911 to PCA club HPDE events and met a few people who did some racing with NASA. In 2008, I attended my first NASA HPDE at Mid-Ohio and was impressed with the quality of drivers and car preparation in the German Touring Series.”

William Vanjonack, NASA Northeast

Q: Why did you choose to race in German Touring Series?

A: “I had been racing in another series for six years prior to jumping into GTS and, to be honest, I wish I had done so much, much sooner. When deciding on GTS, I was drawn to the series because of the classing approach used. My previous experience included class rules that allowed for much different performance envelopes of the cars, which translated into a wide spread field with very little close racing. The cars influenced outcomes way too much vs driver skill.

In GTS – with power-to-weight ratio, although not perfect — we have a much tighter window of performance for the cars, with emphasis on driver skill and race craft. It is also nice to have the flexibility to develop the cars with many options to arrive into a class parameter.

I prefer a moderate weight and power car with big rubber. Others go lower weight with less power and more aero development. For the guys running BMWs, especially S54 engines, you can be very competitive with stock motors and ECUs because of the neutralizing effects of power to weight. Or you can go wild and stroke, dry-sump, and drop a sequential gearbox in the car. You can be creative, but the balance is brought back to a window that satisfies both sides of the coin.

And, of course GTS has become one of the premier series for those of us whole love the German marques, and although you won’t hear the BMW guys say it directly, it sure is fun to give the P-car guys a good run from time to time!”

Q: What is the best advice you can give to some considering building a car for competition in the German Touring Series?

A: “I’ll start with the age-old recommendation. First, determine a budget and how much time you want to spend on development of the car. The answer to the first question ultimately will define which platform and where in GTS 1-5 you will want to focus.

Don’t assume the classes that run quicker lap times necessarily have better racing. The classes in our Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions are deep in GTS2 through GTS4 and racing in each class is tight and competitive. Some of the best races I’ve seen have been in GTS2, with close battles flag to flag.

Second, start with a solid chassis and build a safety package and robust cage from the start. We all want to stay safe, and spending money up front on safety is important.

Last, some folks like to start with the latest and greatest factory platform offering. Although this can be fun and you get to have the “first,” it is not what I recommend for the privateer, even with the deepest of pockets. I suggest starting with something tried and true, for example, an E46 M3. Spend some time talking to the folks that have been racing the platform for years. Chances are we have figured out the nuances of chassis setup, correct parts, and bugs that need to be fixed. I’m a fan of leveraging as much as I can from what others already have figured out and learned to get on the track racing much quicker and in a competitive package.”

Q: What is the one thing people should know about racing in the German Touring Series?

A: “Simply, the GTS crew is a family. I think all series have this feel to an extent, but I see this group of racers as especially tight. With friendships that go beyond casual competitors. There isn’t a race that goes by that you will find people as happy for others and their results as they are of their own. It’s really a result of all the attributes the series brings to the table.”

Scott Blair, NASA Mid-Atlantic

Q: What is the best advice you can give to some considering building a car for competition in the German Touring Series?

A: “In my opinion, the best choice for the money is an E36 M3 for GTS2, an E46 M3 for GTS3, or you can go baller and run an E46 M3 or Porsche 911 GTS3 in GTS4. A budget build is suspension, wing and splitter, R comps, track pads, cage and safety equipment. And if you are already competitive in TT, you just need to add safety equipment and you are ready to race!”

Q: Why did you choose to race in German Touring Series? 

“I chose to race GTS2 in my E36 M3 because it was an easy transition from TTC. In fact, all I had to do was add a restrictor plate and take out about 100 pounds to transition to GTS2. It was that easy. We have large fields in GTS2 because the cars are easy and relatively cheap to build, and they set damn fast lap times for having 14.5 pounds per horsepower. That’s about 205 wheel horsepower at 3,000 pounds. And our local group of GTS racers have all become friends, always willing to help each other, but when we strap on the helmets, we are all out to win.”

Aaron Nash, GTS2, NASA Florida

Q: What is the one thing people should know about racing in the German Touring Series?

A: “We are excited to have them join and try to keep up! For those looking at building a car for the GTS class, I would highly suggest that they buy a used racecar or rent a seat at first. All though it looks fun to new enthusiasts, it actually makes no financial sense and is a massive hurdle for most would-be competitors.”

Q: Why did you choose to race in German Touring Series?

A: “I chose to race this class in the 2017 NASA Eastern States Championships because our Crucial Motorsports Group BMW E36 racecars are a pretty good fit in GTS2, and it was in our backyard at Sebring Raceway. It was a great decision and we are making plans now to attend the 2018 Championships at COTA!”

Ed Baus, GTS4, NASA Great Lakes

Q: What is the best advice you can give to some considering building a car for competition in the German Touring Series?

A: “Do your research. In GTS, there is no “one best” car or formula for building a car that ends up on the podium more often than others. You have the opportunity to pick your mark, your car, and your power level that you are looking to build and put it all together in a package. Use another racer’s car as a template for success, but do not be afraid to change details or build strategy. Your car may be the next one that others copy after you show off what it can do.

Our previous car had been a GTS1 car, which was the lowest power to weight class in GTS, but we built it against all of the conventional thought for low-horsepower cars. We added a large wing, large splitter, and experimented with every downforce aid possible and raced it against cars that were made to try to slip through the air as smoothly as possible. Our strategy was unconventional, but it turned out to be very successful and resulted in a championship win in 2011.”

Q: Why did you choose to race in German Touring Series?

A: “I came to NASA to try the GTS group. The rules fit my style, which I always say that I am a tinkerer, so a spec set of rules or one that penalizes every little add-on piece is not the best for me. What kept me coming back is the people. Those who race in the GTS group are a good group of people. The kind of people that you want to hang out with at the end of the day to bench race and talk strategy for both how to attack the turns or what is the next great piece of something that we all need to add to our cars. I have never forgotten that I am racing other people, not other cars.”

Rob Ferriol, GTS4, NASA Mid-Atlantic

Q: What is the one thing people should know about racing in the German Touring Series?

A: “It’s fast, and fun! German sports cars and sedans have a rich history in racing. When you build a GTS car, more often than not you’re starting with a car that has years, even decades, of racing lineage baked into its engineering and design. This translates to fast, fun racecars that are competitive right out of the box. They also come with a massive enthusiast community for parts and knowledge. But don’t let the German lineage scare you, there are cars out there for every budget — and a chassis for every taste: front engine, mid engine, and rear engine!”

Q: What is the best advice you can give to someone considering building a car for competition in the German Touring Series?

A: “Whether building to GTS or any other series standard, safety should be the first priority on your build sheet. Invest as much as you can afford into a quality, well-built, and compliant roll cage. With safety out of the way, focus on weight. GTS is a power-to-weight class, so every pound counts, and everyone counts pounds. Safely get your car as light as possible, then ballast up to meet minimum weight targets for your chosen class – this provides you flexibility in classing and, in some cases, flexibility in weight placement. There’s nothing worse than being a hundred pounds too heavy and no way to take the weight off! And lastly, know your horsepower numbers. I dyno my car a few times a year just to make sure I’m maximizing my power-to-weight competitiveness, but also staying compliant within my class.”

Matthew Wasilewski, GTS2, NASA Great Lakes

Q: What is the best advice you can give to some considering building a car for competition in the German Touring Series?

A: “For someone building a GTS car, I can speak for GTS2 specifically, and maybe a little for GTS3. Grip and suspension is where I would focus my efforts. If everyone has the same power, being able to carry more speed in the corners and being able to put it down is key. This is why you see more and more guys in GTS2 going with fender flares and wider wheels/tires. I am not convinced that a wider setup is faster, given that it adds more rolling resistance. But that’s also a cool thing about GTS; you can have two different setups running similar times. If I were to build a new car, I’d recommend double-adjustable shocks like an MCS remote reservoir, and a good differential, like one from Diffsonline.com with variable ramps, and a good rear wing like one from Bimmerworld, with an accompanying front splitter. These three modifications, outside of the driver, has improved my car’s drivability and speed more than anything else.”

Christina Lam, GTS2, NASA Northeast

Q: What is the best advice you can give to some considering building a car for competition in the German Touring Series?

A: “Get creative with it! You don’t need a big budget to race GTS despite what people think. My splitter, for example, is made of plywood and I use stock brake calipers. There are some nice cars out there with lots of gadgets that aren’t necessarily the fastest. Figure out what big mods you need like suspension, aero, and a diff and have fun with it! If you’ve got a German car and are currently DEing or TTing it, it fits into GTS. Unlike Spec classes that mandate specific part numbers or suspension, you are free to modify your car to your own choosing. Which means, if you have some great ideas on how to gain an advantage on your competitors, use it!”

Q: Why did you choose to racing in German Touring Series? 

A: “I started HPDE with my E36 M3 and always dreamed of taking it all the way to racing. When I bought the car, it was an automatic grocery getter for a nice family, and it seemed proper to give it the life an M3 was built for: racing. So, once I got my competition license, I sent it off to Hi-Speed Motorsports for a full makeover from a street legal DE/TT car to full racecar. They turned the M3 into a killer machine that is competitive and easy to drive. I love the ability to modify the car and push the limits of what has been done in the past.”

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Images courtesy of Juha Lievonen, Tracktime Photos, William Vanjonack, Brett Becker, Aaron Nash and John P. Kernodle