When airflow meter technology was implemented for use in the BMW E30 chassis in the 1980s, it gave manufacturers a solution for metering the amount of air drawn into the intake. Using a system of air temperature sensors and what was considered, back then, a high-tech circuit board, the AFM also provided input to the DME to determine how much fuel the injectors delivered into the engine. This wiper board also acted as sort of a throttle-position sensor.
That system has performed well for many years in its time, considering the age of these cars, but nothing lasts forever. Some parts for these cars are now simply “unobtanium,” which can be detrimental to a racing series. The days of going to junkyards and pulling many AFMs out of cars with the hopes of finding a “good one” are over. You just don’t find many E30 chassis in junkyards anymore. You can search online for rebuilt AFMs, but most “rebuilders” simply clean the connectors and reassemble, and don’t test the temperature sensor or replace any of the parts. That might work well for a little while, and you could do that yourself, but they seldom last long, and you are right back where you started. So, what to do next?
We looked into systems that many nonracer types have used with some success. However, one required a chip and some clipping of wires in the engine wiring harness. I felt that was not a viable solution for the series, and the opportunity to get it wrong was too high. I was searching for a simple “remove and install” solution that would solve these poor performance issues that would suddenly show up while on track.
One possible solution came through Panzer Performance, a specialty shop in Florida who was in contact with an engineer named Peter Ruggiero, who thought he could come up with a solution to our problem. He created a digital airflow meter using the stock airflow meter housing and replaced the temperamental and worn-out factory circuit board with a contact-free board. There was some calibrating to do and after a few units were assembled, we did some testing at tracks on the east and west coasts.
We dyno-tested cars with the stock AFMs, then swapped them out with the digital AFMs and retested them. We found a few issues with the numbers on the first batch of AFMs, so we sent them back, and they were updated with version two and returned to us. Over the last eight months, we repeated the dyno testing on many cars and even tested cars on track in sprint races and in a few three-hour enduros. The results of these tests were extremely favorable, and reports from drivers were that they perform as expected. Gone are the days of raiding junkyards, hoping to find an AFM out of an automatic convertible so that the AFM would work. A reliable solution is now available to us to spend more time on track!
These new digital AFMs are not a requirement for the series, but rather an option for you to get one if you want one. They won’t give you more power, which was never the intent. If your AFM has failed or is failing, then you could see an increase in performance, but this is the result of a restoration of performance and not an enhancement.
The plan is that June 1, 2022, the rules will be amended to allow for a solution to the problem of failing airflow meters. The new rule will look like this:
220.127.116.11.5. The stock air flow meter may be replaced with a Digital Air Flow Meter from PanzerPerformance.com. Part number: 13627547977-DIG
For NASA members ordering from the website, use the discount code “SE30” for a $50 off and free shipping. Call 941-739-6215 or email [email protected].