When Rob Henretta and Paul Quattrochi sold their E1-class BMW E46 that they drove to a third-place finish at the 2014 25 Hours of Thunderhill, they figured they were done with endurance racing.

In 2017 as they were monitoring the Western Endurance Racing Challenge race at Buttonillow in late June, and texting back and forth all the while, they began to hear the siren’s song of enduros once again.

“Over the course of the race, we realized we weren’t done,” Henretta said. “We weren’t ready to throw it in. So, I started looking at the rules and trying to figure out what we should do.”

The race was June 26, 2017, and by the Fourth of July weekend, Henretta had flown to Phoenix and driven home to Orange County in a gently used base model 128i. The 1-Series provided a blank canvas for Team HQ Autosport to build a new car for the E2 class, one Henretta said was underserved, and one he hoped to help grow.

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They built the car in the fall of 2017, then developed it at WERC races throughout 2018, which culminated in an E2 class win at the 2018 25 Hours of Thunderhill.

“We thought what would be a good car to put in E2 that, if we wanted to move up to E1 we could, you know, a car that has some legs, and I started looking through things,” Henretta said. “We’re partial to BMWs. We’ve always raced BMWs. I’ve worked on mainly BMW racecars as a hobby, so we were kind of partial to that and in looking at things, we said, these 1 Series are nice cars. They’re a little bit smaller than the 3 Series. They’re based on the same technology.”

The new build benefited from the knowledge they accumulated from their experience with the Technik/HQ Autosport E46, which started with suspension components they had used before from Bimmerworld, Motion Control Suspension and Vorshlag. The team welded in strut tower and subframe bracing and added a factory big brake package from the front of a 1M car. That allowed them to go the whole 25 hours on one set of pads from Performance Friction, Henretta said.

The team also elected to leave the HVAC system intact. In fact, the car still has a functional air conditioning system. Blackbird Fabworx installed the cage in such a way that the required dash crossbar was in place while retaining full function of the HVAC system. Henretta said the team went that direction because foul weather can come into play at the 25.

“We’ve run into problems two years before at the 25. The rain was really bad. Nobody could see,” Henretta said. “The class leaders in E1 wrecked out with a couple of hours to go, trying to clean the windshield. We’d actually parked our car that year. By morning it was so wet and so humid in the car that the windows were fogging up, so from a safety standpoint, we just said ‘We’re going to park it.’ It wasn’t worth the risk.”

The team added a 20-gallon fuel cell, which doesn’t provide the chassis balance of the stock 14-gallon tank under the back seat, but it does give them more flexibility with their fuel strategy.

The whole car is well thought out and built with attention to detail, and developed over a season of racing. For example, there’s a bracket for an iPhone above the inside rearview mirror, and it runs the Track Flagger app mandated at the 25. The digital Sampson radio fits into the dash where the factory stereo would have gone, and it looks right at home.

“One of the things that we wanted to do when we built this car is we wanted an elegant solution,” Henretta said. “We wanted something that would look good and be functional and be easy to service and kind of all those factors. Putting the radio where it belongs, in the dash, is a nice easy thing to do. It’s a great solution. BMW knows the ergonomics of that, so it’s within driver’s line of sight.”

The screen on the passenger side dashboard carries sponsor and driver messages pushed from the team’s pits to the car itself. They can change the driver’s name, revolve sponsor logos and enhance the experience of the people watching their live streams.

Inside, there are three cameras attached to the roll cage: front and rear facing to record the action and one forward-facing for the live stream. They have a battery backup that lets them last for 25 hours.

“This whole portion of the car is really Paul’s thing,” Henretta said.  “He engineered all the camera gear, and picked all the right products. That’s really his area of expertise.”

The car uses the AiM MXS dash and the Race Capture system, which delivers live telemetry via its own cellular signal so the crew can monitor oil pressure, fuel level, engine temperature and other such info from the pits.

The lighting on the car also is first rate, and it includes LEDs mounted within stock enclosure behind stock headlamp lens and two apex lights mounted on the corners of the front bumper. There are no auxiliary lights to get knocked off or to create additional aero drag, and it was all part of the plan all along.

“The thing I really like about racing, especially endurance racing, is that it’s a real test,” Henretta said. “I tell people, you can throw an interception and still win the Super Bowl. You can strike out and still win the World Series, but you get one bobble at a 25-hour race and you lose the race. You have one guy spill fuel. It’s not even the driver’s fault. You have an off. You make a pit stop at the wrong time, and you could lose the race, so there’s an intensity to it that you just don’t get with stick and ball sports.”

Owner Paul Quattrocchi and Rob Henretta
Year 2008
Make BMW
Model 128i
Weight 3,020 lbs. w/ driver
Engine/Horsepower 3.0 inline six-cylinder, 210 hp
Transmission Six-speed manual
Suspension: Front

 

MCS Dampers with Hyperco Springs and Eibach sways Vorshlag Camber Plates with MCS Coilover Struts
Suspension: Rear MCS Struts with Hyperco Coils
Tires: Front      255-40-17 Toyo RR
Tires: Rear     255-40-17 Toyo RR
Brakes: Front BMW Performance
Brakes: Rear BMW Performance
Data system      AIM MXS Logging Display and RaceCapture
Sponsors HQ Autosport, Bimmerworld
Image courtesy of Brett Becker