The German Touring Series is wide-open in terms of its rule structure and the variety of cars that can compete in this class. To find out more, we spoke with GTS National Director, Michael Gershanok. He pointed out that E30 BMWs and Porsche 944s are great candidates for GTS1, but Volkswagens, modern Minis and Audis also can run in GTS1. In GTS2, the BMW E36 M3 likely is the most popular choice, and even then it has to be detuned a bit. In GTS3, a detuned E46 M3 is a go-to car. By the time you get up to GTS4 and GTS5 and even GTSU, the game escalates with a field of modified E46 M3s, E90 and E92 M3s, and Porsche GT3 Cup cars. What follows are some of the finer points of the German Touring Series.
“The NASA German Touring Series is comprised of six classes of German cars organized strictly based on power-to-weight ratios. This simple formula provides broad flexibility in vehicle choice and in the modifications allowed, which include just about anything. The result is a broad range of modifications and extraordinarily close racing. GTS classes range from GTS1, with the highest power-to-weight ratio, all the way up to GTS5, and the unlimited GTSU, which has no mandated limits. Most GTS cars tend to be either Porsches or BMWs, but GTS fields include vehicles from Audi, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and even Mini. GTS has rules in place to discourage body contact and encourage good sportsmanship. Because of the wide variety of eligible cars, cost to build a competitive car could range from $10,000 to almost anything.”
Eligible Makes and Models
“Any vehicle of German manufacture meeting NASA CCR standards for competition is eligible for competition. The vehicle must have originally been badged and assigned a VIN by one of the following manufacturers: Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Merkur, Mini, NSU, Opel, Porsche, Volkswagen.
Competitors are encouraged to request an exemption to the above list. Please contact the GTS National Director. Upon issuance of exemption, a signed allowance must be attached to the logbook.”
The following table shall be used to determine each car’s base minimum weight when multiplied by the engine’s average horsepower or peak torque multiplied by .9, whichever is higher — in case peak torque is even or higher than average horsepower — the minimum weight will be determined by peak torque ratios:
Minimum ratio for:
|D.O.T. Approved Tires|
|No limit||No limit|
Varies by car and horsepower. You can access the class calculator here:
“Permitted fuel is any grade of commercially available unmodified gasoline, E85 Ethanol, biodiesel, or diesel. The driver must notify the Race Director if using methanol or other exotic fuel, when class rules permit. Vehicles that run on (all or in part) electricity, propane, or hydrogen must be cleared through the National Office in writing.”
Average Cost to Build Car
|$500 to $5,000|
BMW E36 M3
|$5,000 to $15,000|
BMW E46 M3
|$5,000 to $20,000|
|$500 to $5,000|
|$15,000 to $25,000|
|$25,000 to $50,000|
Average Cost to Buy Built Car
It depends on the class, but the general trajectory of prices rises with class number in GTS. For example, you can find built cars that can compete in GTS1 for around $10,000. In GTS2, you can pay as much as $20,000. For GTS3, $30,000. For GTS4, GTS5 and GTSU, the prices start around $40,000 and $50,000, and can top the $100,000 mark depending on how new a platform you want.
Modifications center on safety, engine, suspension and aerodynamics. German Touring Series National Director Michael Gershanok explained:
“The higher the class, the more elaborate and more sophisticated the components are,” Gershanok said. “Converting from a street car, the suspension components like shocks and springs and sway bars are the first in line to change.
“Engine modifications can make more or less power, depending on the class requirements, just to fit into the horsepower-to-weight ratio,” he continued. “Since it’s all weight and horsepower, people manipulate weight and power according to the class they’re in. Those are core principles of the class requirements. That’s how most guys are approaching the issue. They either take the high-horsepower, heavier car and try to fit into the lower class by restricting the power or by manipulating the weight, or vice versa.”
Average cost to run a weekend — $2,000 to $3,000 depending on class and your tire program.
Tires and prices (from Phil’s Tire Service, Cragsmoor, N.Y.)
Toyo Proxes RR
|$175 to $285|
|$218 to $431|
|$320 to $559|
|$148 to 256|
|$185 to $355|
Brakes, brands and prices
BMW E36 and E46
|$180 to $273|
|$190 to $295|
|$226 to $275|
Hawk DTC-60 fronts
Hawk DTC-70 fronts
Hawk HT10 fronts
Toyo Tires, Hawk Performance, Maxxis Tires, Winding Road Racing, Neo Motorsport, Hoosier Tires, BFGoodrich Tires, Spec Clutches, Sampson Racing Communications, Frozen Rotors, Injector Pulse.
- “Racing room” differs from NASA CCR and is defined as “at least one car width plus 6 inches.”
- Good choice of platforms and plenty of aftermarket support for each.
- Horsepower-to-weight ratios and an open rules set that is easy to follow.
- Racing German cars, new or old, is rarely cheap. Prices are out of reach for many drivers.
- In upper classes, a thicker wallet can translate to greater success out on the racetrack.
- “In the NASA CCR, under section 25.4.2 ‘Punting,’ the rules define ‘racing room’ as: ‘at least three-quarters of one car width.’ For racing between two or more GTS cars, ‘racing room’ is hereby defined as: ‘at least one car width plus 6 inches.’”
- “For the purpose of these rules, the test of engine eligibility is intended to recognize that some manufacturers (e.g., MINI) use engines not manufactured by either themselves or by any of their sibling companies. However, because such engines were delivered in these otherwise GTS-eligible cars from the factory, the engines shall also be considered eligible within the other constraints described above.”
- “All adjustable engine management systems must be declared on the Dynamometer Certification Form. Failure to do so will result in disqualification of all timed sessions for the weekend at minimum.
- Any hardware that allows a competitor to wirelessly connect to the ECU at any time during competition or post-competition impound is strictly prohibited, regardless of whether such hardware is external or internal to the ECU.”
- “Side windows are permitted in GTS. They must made of eighth-inch-thick minimum Lexan and have fasteners no closer than every 4 inches. Drivers with side windows must be able to exit the vehicle within the same timeframes required of drivers who do not have side windows.”
- “Because it is nearly impossible to have an AWD dynamometer at an event, all AWD cars must have dyno results before entering their first event. This dyno testing must be done on a Dynojet brand dynamometer. Dyno test results must be accompanied by a Dynamometer certification form. There will be no exceptions. Any car without the certification will run in GTSU.”
- “In the event of a protest against an AWD car, the protested and protesting parties must both be represented at the retesting. Retesting must follow the same procedures and the fees will be paid by the party in error. If a GTS official’s presence at the retesting is required, the party in error shall pay the GTS official’s expenses.”
What Racers Say
Blake Troester, NASA Utah GTS Series Leader
“That GTS has a modified 13/13 rule is a big positive and was my first draw to the series. Racing is already expensive enough without bodywork! I would rather spend my budget on tires, entry fees, and go-fast parts versus fenders and paint. The rules are simple and easy to apply to all the various cars regardless of make or model. Other series have very complicated points systems and tend to punish turbo cars, which is what I run. I also wanted to dabble in aero because that has always fascinated me, and the truly open rules set of GTS allows me to get as simple or as crazy as I want. The different classes within GTS also allow drivers to build a competitive car no matter their budget, and the limits between classes are not so far apart that you run the risk of falling into a ‘no-mans land’ between two classes.
The racing in GTS is great because all the drivers have the same core belief that you can race hard and fast yet don’t have to trade paint. Not only are the German cars exceptional racecars, but they also are truly works of art, and all our drivers want to keep them that way.”
Chris Streit, GTS Assistant National Director
“I chose to race in GTS because I wanted to race in a competitive series that offered similarly powered cars, but still allowed for development in areas of suspension, aero, weight, etc. I’m a tinkerer at heart and GTS provided a place where I could do that.
The competition is serious. You have to be on your game these days to be on the podium. Consistent podiums are hard won and therefore the satisfaction of working toward that is so much greater. The drivers are fantastic, as well. One minute we’re scrambling tooth and nail for the win on track, and the next we’re sharing advice, tools, and support when off the track. It’s a serious series that recognizes that we’re all in this together.”
Ed Baus, GTS Series Leader, NASA Great Lakes
“The idea of a power-to-weight class was very inviting to me. I could run the motor that I had and spend my money and time making modifications to the car chassis and aero, where a racer could have a significant effect without spending a large amount of money. I did not pick a Porsche as the car that I would run, but rather it picked me. I had never looked back since and I have never regretted that decision.
I have always had the opinion that one should focus on racing with people, not with cars. Do not pick the car you are going to race. You should first pick the people you want to race with. It makes the racing experience much more enjoyable. I like the people I am racing with as well as the power-to-weight basis for the class. In Great Lakes, we try to make the events a community event. We have GTS gatherings at the end of the day to bring all of the GTS racers together and have a social time to make the group stronger from a social aspect.”