It’s funny what racing does to the human mind. One minute we’re capable of making rational decisions and the next we’re tearing apart a pristine BMW M3 and turning it into a track car.
In The Doghouse Garage in Oxnard, Calif., is prepping a 2008 E92 M3 into a Time Trial car for competition in the SoCal Region. The owner wanted to use the car for Time Trial competition, with the understanding that he eventually would use it for racing. After some discussion, the owner and the folks at In The Doghouse Garage decided it would be best to do the full cage now rather than installing a roll bar, then having to tear that out to add a full cage whenever the customer decided to go racing.
“He was thinking about selling this car and going and buying an E36 or a Spec Miata, or a Spec E30, but he just got to the point where he already had this car, he had it lying around and asked us to build it into a racecar,” said Ben Wilkinson from In the Doghouse Garage. “He kind of went from, ‘Hey, let’s ease into this to all right, we’re just going to go full idiot on it.’”
The car is pristine, with just more than 20,000 miles on it. Initial plans call for mild modifications. ITDG installed D2 springs and triple-adjustable shocks with external reservoirs. Each adjustment has 36 different settings to fine tune suspension behavior. They sent the car out to Jim Pierce Motorsports in Torrance, Calif., for the cage work and to C&J Auto Body in Oxnard, Calif., to have the cage painted.
For now, it’s just a cage, D2 shocks and springs, Sparco seats, Schroth harnesses and nets and Sampson radios. Later on, ITDG will add sway bars and further chassis enhancements. The big challenges in building a modern BMW into a track car lie in the electronics.
“For right now we just want to get it out there and see what it’s going to do with its suspension till we kind of know more about what we need to buy,” Wilkinson said.
For example, ITDG left the stock steering wheel in place because of the shifter paddles for the SMG transmission. It also left in place the center console because of all the wiring and control modules it houses and because the iDrive rotary control knob is integral to so many systems on the car. Later on, when the car goes into full race mode, that will have to change.
“Normally what we do on a car is go through and reduce the wiring harness to the bare minimum,” Wilkinson said. “We haven’t done that yet due to the fact that we’re just trying to get the car on track at this point. That’s going to take probably 20 to 30 man hours of labor because we’re going to have to trace every wire straight back to the source, one at a time, because if you cut the wrong one on this car, you’re done.”
Here are the steps on the initial phases of the build.