During Tian’s SpecE30 race at VIR, he went to shift from 4th to 5th on the front straight and his OEM shifter snapped off! While he managed to do a paddock repair to get him through the weekend, we decided to do some upgrades on his car so he would be ready to rock for the next race.
AKG Motorsports has been a sponsor of my racing endeavors since my E36 M3 back in 2017. They have continued their support on my E46 M3 and we run essentially the entire catalog of offerings for the E46 on my car.
I’ve always loved the quality of the parts from this company so I thought it best to grab some of their Made in USA parts for the SE30. We ordered the Stage II shifter and DSSR to go with it. Check out our unboxing and install video for action from Tian’s race and to see how easy it is to install the new shifter.
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WGI has never been my favorite track. I realize that sounds blasphemous since most people love the place. My first ever W2W race was at Watkins in April of 2016. It was with American Endurance Racing in a DriveGear Racing SpecE30. I had never driven an E30, never been to Watkins, and never raced W2W. I went into the weekend as a relatively confident driver as I had always been on the quick side in my E36 M3 track car. Definitely was not prepared for the rude awakening.
The E30 was a big adjustment in itself. It was my first time driving a rental, and with the freshly signed agreement, it made me a bit nervous because I didn’t want to be the one to ball it up. E30s need to be flogged to be driven fast. The blue Armco and a rental racecar didn’t make that easy for me as I took my first few laps in the car. SE30 gets classed in Class 1 with AER. This is the slowest class, one of the slowest cars, and I was definitely the slowest driver on the team. The weekend was spent watching my mirrors as the closing speeds between the SE30 and Class 5 cars differed by 50mph at times. I never got comfortable during the weekend, and I left rethinking my goals for w2w racing if I struggled with this weekend so much.
I put the traumatizing weekend behind me and eventually went W2W in my E36 M3 the next year. In 2017, I returned to WGI in September to race GTS2 with NASANE. Now I was in a car that I was comfortable in, had already raced a few weekends, at a track that I’ve now been to before. I had done well in the previous race weekends, and was hoping to do the same here at WGI. My first experience at WGI still lingered in my mind as the green flag dropped. I couldn’t get my previous doubts out of my mind, even though I had driven my E36 M3 racecar quick at NJMP and Pitt Race. The two WGI races turned into 35 minutes each of overthinking and memories of the AER weekend. I couldn’t get it out of my mind, and it showed in my performance in my E36. I was off pace, inconsistent, and pretty far back in the field. I left WGI frustrated again and disappointed that I wasn’t able to put on a better drive. In 2018, I didn’t get the chance to race at WGI with NASA as I sold my E36 M3 to build an E46 M3.
Third time is the charm. Back at WGI for the SCCA Hoosier Super Tour at Watkins for 2019. When I got to the gates Thursdsay evening, the fog was heavy and dense. Going up the hill, I could only see a few feet in front of the truck. The weather had been terrible all day long but we were due for some sunny weather for the weekend.
With a lot more experience under my belt, I went into the weekend a lot more relaxed and mentally prepared. While in previous years I stressed myself out by watching race video nonstop, I watched a couple Touring 1 races and focused on having a good time. The practice session on Friday was easy and I was quicker than I was in the E36. At least we’re off to a good start. By qualifying in the afternoon, I found a few seconds but got caught up in traffic on the last turn. 2.04 was my best. Didn’t improve on my time by much Saturday morning and was starting P7 in a field of 14. After comparing some data with Hugh Stewart, I picked out low hanging fruit to work on. Namely exiting the bus stop, and T10, a fast left hander. The race was good, I managed a 2.03.0 with no ABS and some good close racing with two other E46 M3s. While it wasn’t track record shattering speed, we had fantastic racing and pulled into impound with smiles.
Sunday’s race start was a bit of a mess. I had moved up thanks to my quicker race time to start P6. A car behind me jumped the start by several seconds and the rest of the field followed. Before we got to T1, there were several cars that started behind suddenly in front. While it made for a challenge to now have to pick through the field, there was good close racing with one of the E46 M3s and one of the Mustangs in class. I wasn’t able to improve on my time, but the track might have been slower on Sunday as nobody else went faster either.
There is definitely more time to be found for me at WGI. Hugh Stewart’s E46 M3 did an easy 2.00 several times during the weekend. I’m finally satisfied with my drive at WGI, and left with a smile. I feel like I can finally leave my first W2W experience ever behind, and stop letting it haunt me every time I go to the Glen. The blue is to be respected, but not feared. Fear makes you slow.