The Production BMW Championship is a one-make race series specifically designed to provide close, friendly and as much as possible cheap racing for any driver from beginner to advanced.
A number of Lotus track day regulars had been thinking about getting into motorsport. Going racing in a Lotus at the time was an expensive excercise so alternatives were considered. The BMW E30 (3-series from the late eighties) fitted the bill for a cheap and robust car with all-important rear wheel drive. Most of the original group behind the BMW series went on to set up the Elise Trophy.
We are using the BMW E30, the 3-series car made between 1983 and 1990. Only the 318i and 320i are permitted, with the M40 or M20 engines respectively.
No, they won't be very fast... but they will certainly be entertaining! The E30 is known for its tail-happy handling and the race cars will be put on a diet to improve their power-to-weight ratio. Being a single make series all the cars are close to identical and so although you might not be going very fast, nor is anyone else which makes for close exciting racing.
We race at some of the UK's finest and most famous circuits. We race at Silverstone GP, Brands Hatch GP and Donington, amongst others. Check out the calendar to see where we're going this year.
Costs for the car itself typically range from £100-1000. Costs for preparing the car with the necessary safety equipment and racing parts are expected to start from £1,600 for the parts themselves. Labour costs for fitting these parts range from £200 for only the roll cage to £2,000 for everything. The original target costs were £3,000 for everything you need to go racing and this is achievable for the DIY mechanic. Personal safety equipment and an ARDS license will also be required.
The cars used are the BMW e30 3 series that were in production between 1983 and 1990 (with the touring body continuing to 1993). There are two model variants allowed, the 8 valve 318i and the 12 valve 320i. There are various body styles currently being used, 2 door, 4 door and even some Tourings (Estate), however, preference lies with the 2 door. The 318 must have the 4 cylinder non carburettor engine (the M40) and the 320 uses the smallest of the 6 pot engines (the M20).
The power to weight ratio for the two is broadly similar, however the 320i does have a slight advantage, although the 318i is 70kg lighter in road trim. The 320 produces slightly more torque which often helps in the straight line speed, whereas the 318 does have the advantage in twisty sections. Generally speaking, on track the 320 is the more forgiving car, but that is not to say that the 318 is not a competitive car in the right hands.
Wherever possible the cars are kept to as near standard as possible thus ensuring no-one driver has competitive advantage over another. This is not to say that there is not room for some minor tinkering, however, the cars are regularly and strictly tested to ensure a level playing field.
Because the course of time has an effect on older cars, drivers often replace many of the parts susceptible to wear, for example, bushes and cooling components. Suspension is also up-rated over the standard set-up. Also, to ensure standardisation, all competitors race on 195/50/15 Toyo Tires Proxy 888's.
Competitors are allowed to strip most of the unnecessary interior components from the car until they reach the minimum weight. Safety is of paramount importance and the other changes that are made are essential items, for example, race seat and harness, roll cage and fire extinguisher. Driving standards are very good and contact is generally avoided at all costs, however the Championship has ensured that safety systems are generally 'over speced' as accidents can still happen.
Although the exception rather than the rule, some of the cars are road legal and can be driven to and from the circuit.
Please see the car preparation guide here.