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Should I mod my car to make it more fun on the track?

  • Mod it - its much more fun

    Votes: 4 44.4%
  • Don't mod it - its not worth the extra dough

    Votes: 3 33.3%
  • Other - I can't answer a simple yes no question (post)

    Votes: 2 22.2%
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I do'nt make mistakes.
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm reaching that tipping point with driving schools. Its when you are getting all your stock car has in it, and now you want to make some mods to help certain aspects of the car's behavior. Personally, I view three areas to address:

1. Braking - track pads, etc
2. Handling - sticky tires, sway bars, spring/shock or coil cover packages, camber plates
3. Power - LSD with custom ratio, supercharger

The problem isn't what items to be changed or what order to mod (there's plenty of threads on that). The question: To mod or not to mod?

Since HPDE's are not racing, I'm running with a large variety of different vehicles. I'd never expect to mod my 330Ci to keep up with some of the 911 Turbos, Vette's and Vipers that join us at the track, so the question is why try? If I mod my car, I can go a bit faster but does that make it more fun? Basically, I'm trying to get the maximum fun per dollar while sticking with my 330Ci. Certain mods such as pads and tires will come just to stop destroying the street tires and pads.
 

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Tightrope walking
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cwsqbm said:
1. Braking - track pads, etc
Not really necessary, but swapping out your front pads for a set of Hawk HP plus for the HPDE will give you better stopping over the long haul. As will bleeding your brakes with ATE Super Blue. The bleeding/fresh fluid is more important than anything
2. Handling - sticky tires, sway bars, spring/shock or coil cover packages, camber plates
Sway Bars are the single best bang-for-the-buck mod you can do for your car - do it. The difference is significant for the money and time spent on the car.
Your 04 suspension (springs & shocks/struts) should still be in very good shape, so that money isn't worth spending. Coilover sets are nice, but until your skill level is beyond that of the car, it's money that, again, isn't worth spending. You're learning curve will thank you.
Unless you are quite experienced, avoid R-comps at all costs. You will learn far more on street tires than you will on R-comps. Street tires loose traction at a much lower threshold than R-comps, so when you're sliding in those, you're in trouble.
Camber plates may help, but E46s also have that little lead pin in the suspension that can be removed, then you can loosen the strut nuts and give yourself the free 1/2 degree of negative camber that should help tire wear.
3. Power - LSD with custom ratio, supercharger
Don't bother. The only thing you *might* consider is the LSD, because open diffs are annoying, but at the track, at an HPDE, when you're a novice or one step up, there's little opportunity to take advantage of the lockup.
As for power, you'll learn how to keep the speed that you already have a lot more in a car that has less power, cause you won't be able to use the gas pedal to make up for mistakes made in cornering.

Have a blast!
 

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M Mad
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Better idea, get a race car and go racing. Or buy a track cara nd start building it to go racing. MUCH mroe fun. :)

Mods can be fun, but you are putting higher stresses on the car and the mods themselves tend to be higher maintenace/more prone to failure than stock parts.

But if you are doing DEs on stock pads nad haven't faded them to the point where yo ugot scared, you aren't getting EVERYTHING out of your car as it sits.

Oh, and HP Plus can overheat and go to 0 (yes ZERO) friction level. Nice autocross pad, but not the greatest idea in track pads. :)
 

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With my VAST experience (3 DEs and an AX ;) ), I'll add my $.02 (USD) worth.....

The first DE do completely stock. Otherwise you'll never apperciate any of the later mods. After the first DE, make minimal mods... I suggest sway bars and driveability items such as SSK and CDV delete. After that, upgrade components as the old/stock ones wear out.. brakes, shocks, etc. After the DE this past weekend my brakes were shot... it was a hard choice but my wallet won out and I took it backto the dealer for "covered by warranty" stock brake replacment. The next time they are gone, I'll do an upgrade (nothing drastic, but something better able to take the heat). Soon as my shocks start to show any wear, I'll be looking at Koni's or such.
I expect the real "decision time" to come after 7 - 10 DEs and advancement to the next group level. In Group C (D is novice, A is expert: C and B are inbetween) I'm one of the slowest cars (not the slowest, thank goodness) but in Group B, I'm afraid that I'd be so slow that I'd be getting in the way of everyone else. At that point it is either:
- do major mods
- Get dedicated track car
- find another hobby...:thumbdwn:
 

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By the way, cwsqbm, I notice we have very similar cars... down to the "autobaun miles" (ED)
 

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I do'nt make mistakes.
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
grayghost said:
With my VAST experience (3 DEs and an AX ;) ), I'll add my $.02 (USD) worth.....

The first DE do completely stock. Otherwise you'll never apperciate any of the later mods. After the first DE, make minimal mods... I suggest sway bars and driveability items such as SSK and CDV delete. After that, upgrade components as the old/stock ones wear out.. brakes, shocks, etc. After the DE this past weekend my brakes were shot... it was a hard choice but my wallet won out and I took it backto the dealer for "covered by warranty" stock brake replacment. The next time they are gone, I'll do an upgrade (nothing drastic, but something better able to take the heat). Soon as my shocks start to show any wear, I'll be looking at Koni's or such.
I expect the real "decision time" to come after 7 - 10 DEs and advancement to the next group level. In Group C (D is novice, A is expert: C and B are inbetween) I'm one of the slowest cars (not the slowest, thank goodness) but in Group B, I'm afraid that I'd be so slow that I'd be getting in the way of everyone else. At that point it is either:
- do major mods
- Get dedicated track car
- find another hobby...:thumbdwn:
Well, not to toot my own horn too loudly, I have a ton more experience that you (well, one more DE :p ) . Around here, they break the DE's into three groups: novice, intermediate, and experienced. I'm currently running in the intermediate group, and not counting the E46 M3's out running me down the long straights at Road America, one of the fastest in the group. At Gingerman, the E46 M3's I was running with had stickier tires, track pads, sway bars, etc. The last two instructors commented that I wasn't going to go faster without R-compounds, and if I had them I would have easily out ran everyone in our group, hence my current interest. My last instructor suggested I run one more DE at intermediate eventhough he thinks I'd do ok with the experienced drivers - its just the experienced group has skill AND modded cars.
 

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My experience is almost strictly autocross, so I'll let you decide what mods are "worth it". I'll just pass along some advice that the head DE instructor for the Boston chapter of the BMWCCA gave a few years ago.

For mod order, remember STG. Make the car Stop (better). Make the car Turn (better). Make the car Go (accelerate better). Of course if you want to build a race car, you do this all at once. :)
 

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My experience includes 2 DEs in 2004, 7 DEs in 2005, 8 DEs so far in 2006. My 1999 M Coupe came with theShark software when I bought it in 2002, and I added the CAI some months later. My first DEs were done with that configuration. My first brake pad replacement was with OEMs. My rear shock mounts went bad in 2005 and I replaced them and switched to the H&R/Bilstein sport suspension. The next brake pad replacement was Hawk HP+, and I finished 2005 that way. This year I had to replace control arm bushings and rear subframe bushings, and put in PowerFlex. I also went to Toyo RA1s in May because my instructor at a March DE said the Kuhmo MXs were now limiting my improvement. (It's taken two additional DEs for me to feel the difference, so it's not an automatic "go faster".) The HP+s got used up this pkitast weekend at RA, and I plan to go back to OEMs for the street and use Hawk Blues for the next track event. It's also obvious I'll need to do something to increase negative camber, but I believe I'll begin with shims and put off the camber plates until next year. This is my daily driver, and the latter is much more costly than the former.

As for major engine upgrades, not only are they costly, but they can stress the engine and make it more "touchy". I met one guy who supercharged his M Coupe and had to add in race gas to get it to run smoothly. Another swapped in the M50 intake manifold kit from Eurosport and did the ASC delete. He easily walked away from me out of T7 at RA, but the car ran a little rough until it warmed up a bit. It's a track only car, so that's not a big deal. Consider, too, that when you get good with what you got, it may require thousands of dollars to reduce your lap times by a few seconds.

First make it safer (suspension, brakes, and tires), and don't worry about engine mods until you get into racing. And make the upgrades when you really need them. OEM brakes on our cars are really good, so don't upgrade until your braking exceeds what they can offer. My $0.02, perhaps $0.03.
 

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M Mad
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And it doesn't matter how fast the car is, it is how fast the driver is.

Recent fast students inlcue a guy in his daily drive Passt that was chasing down and passing GTIs at Hyper Fest once he started listening to me. THe other was a kid in his Dad's tired daily driver Honda at his frist DE, that was running away from a Corvette (yes the Corvette was BADLY driven).

But again, if you can do a DE with stock pads for the entire day, YOU are not running your car hard enough for mods to make it faster.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Pinecone said:
And it doesn't matter how fast the car is, it is how fast the driver is.

Recent fast students inlcue a guy in his daily drive Passt that was chasing down and passing GTIs at Hyper Fest once he started listening to me. THe other was a kid in his Dad's tired daily driver Honda at his frist DE, that was running away from a Corvette (yes the Corvette was BADLY driven).

But again, if you can do a DE with stock pads for the entire day, YOU are not running your car hard enough for mods to make it faster.
And if I brake harder and fade the stock brakes, how does that get me around the track faster. I admit I intentionally braked just hard enough but not to kill the stock brakes. That's one reason the first mod will be better pads after already having replacing the factory fluid.

In novice and intermediate classes, I agree driver ability and willingness to learn is far more important than the car. In my second DE I was held up by all sorts of slowly driven fast cars from M3's to Evo's to an Elise. In my last outing, the only cars that outran me were modded E46 M3's. That's why I deciding whether to mod my car so I can drive it harder, or just enjoy running with the intermediate group.
 

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M Mad
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Actually the big thing in moving up is the awareness of other faster cars. Not just speed. In Group D, a train will NEVER break up. IN Group A, a 10 car train will break up in 1 or 2 passing zones, with people passing and while passing giving the other car passing a passing sign to let the faster guys move to the frotn quickly. And there are lightly modded 2002s and other lower powered cars running fine in Group A. Speed is not everything.

If you are really running hard there is little you can do to NOT fade stock pads. Lighter longer braking actually puts more heat into the pads by allowing more time for the heat to soak in, and less time for it to dissapate.
 

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Bump for an interesting thread and a question. Do you need to replace sensors if you swap out pads for track season? Since I'm starting out I've been just on OEM pads so far.
 

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Pinecone said:
Actually the big thing in moving up is the awareness of other faster cars. Not just speed. In Group D, a train will NEVER break up. IN Group A, a 10 car train will break up in 1 or 2 passing zones, with people passing and while passing giving the other car passing a passing sign to let the faster guys move to the frotn quickly. And there are lightly modded 2002s and other lower powered cars running fine in Group A. Speed is not everything.
+1, thank god for more attentive drivers, but there's always that one(or more :rolleyes: ) drivers who refuse to give a passing signal, even in BMWCCA Solo and PCA White.
elbert said:
No, they can be reused. Just don't lose the little metal tension clip.
Like I did.
 

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M Mad
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Or I just taped them back on themselves and don't have them hooked up at all. I am in there enough that I don't worry about wearing out the pads without knowing it.
 
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