Let’s begin with the obvious. You’ve probably never heard of a BMW M235i Racing much less seen one in the wild. There are two good reasons for that. You can’t buy them in this country, yet, and there are a total of three of these cars in the United States.
Two are owned by Classic BMW of Dallas. NASA Rocky Mountain member Dave Fedler owns the other one. Fedler is using the car to help his son Max makes the transition from karting into NASA German Touring Series racing and into Pirelli World Challenge.
The car is impressive in that it’s a factory-built race car direct from BMW Motorsport. The car is fitted with a twin-turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine that makes 333 horsepower. The biggest changes to the production car are racing suspension parts from KW and H&R, racing wheels and tires and a full complement of safety equipment. According to Fedler, the cars roll down the same assembly as the street cars, but at a certain point are pulled aside and shipped to BMW Motorsport, where the cars are prepped and made race ready.
“The basis our engineers had to start with when developing the racing version of the BMW M235i Coupé was exceptionally good, said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “The production models from the BMW M Performance Automobiles range are already incredibly sporty. Because of this, we did not have to make many modifications in order to get the BMW M235i Coupé up and running as a racing car.”
How the car got here is a story as interesting as the car itself and what the Fedlers are using it for. Fellow NASA Rocky Mountain racer Robb Holland is a partner in a business at the Nurburgring in Germany and brought the car to the attention of Fedler, who bought it and had it shipped to the United States.
“I’ve actually brought over several cars from overseas,” said Dave Fedler. “There’s a process you have to follow and there are regulations and logistics involved, but if you have somebody that understands that process, there’s nothing standing in your way. It’s not hard at all.”
Fedler said there is talk of BMW North America bringing more to the United States, but that is still uncertain at this point. The cars are no longer in production, but there is still inventory, so people who want one of these cars, which are sold with VINs but no titles, might someday be able to get one without having to import it.
The idea behind the car is simple. Because it’s based on the M235 street car, most of the parts are readily available here in the United States. If you need a power-steering pump, for example, it’s the same as that of the street car.
The outing at High Plains Raceway with NASA Rocky Mountain region was the car’s first event. Max had the car running 2:04s at High Plains Raceway, which fell in line with GTS2 times.
The car’s next event was a Pirelli World Challenge race at Road America where Max finished ninth of about 45 cars.
The arrangement between father and son is interesting. Dave and his wife bought the car for Max, but it’s up to him to put together the budget to race the car.
“We knew this was going to require a certain budget, and we figured this was a time in his life where he needed to start accepting some of the responsibility for what that means,” Fedler said. “That’s how we came up with the scheme that we’ll provide the equipment, but he has to provide the budget for actually doing the racing.
“So that way we knew we could give him the right equipment, and the right areas to race in and then we put the pressure on him to develop business relationships and develop the funding to run the car, and he’s done a really good job with it,” he continued. “He’s worked very, very hard. He’s made hundreds and hundreds of contacts and he’s heard a lot of no’s, but fortunately he’s been able to develop some good relationships that we’ve then helped turn into business relationships to help run the car. So far, he’s on track to complete his first season with the races we were looking to do.”
Their business model is to partner with companies that might allocate some of their marketing budget for hosting, say, a golf tournament or taking clients to a baseball game or some other type of event. Fedler figures that the experience a partner creates for its employees, clients or vendors at a racetrack has more value because the imagery is more lasting. Much of the imagery is associated with Max, a 16-year-old competing in professional events, but also the uniqueness of the M235i Racing car.
“They’ve had an experiential event around the race and they’re interacting with Max and the race team while the race is going on, so they’re plugged in to being part of a racing team,” Fedler said. “And, as this client said to us, if it were me driving the car, a 48-year-old guy, they probably wouldn’t have had any interest in it, to be honest.”
|3.0-liter twin-turbo inline six-cylinder, 333 horsepower
|Paddle-shift eight-speed ZF automatic transmission
|KW shocks, H&R Suspension springs, H&R front and rear sway bars
|Front: Pirelli PZero 265/660 R18
Rear: Pirelli PZero 265/660 R18
Rear: BMW M Performance
|Plastics Engineering Co. (Plenco), Summit of Everest Group, 3R Racing, Molecule, Wine Country Motorsports