The idea of “going racing” as a regular human with a regular job making regular money can seem daunting at best and impossible at worst. While we’ve shared snippets of competitive efforts from people who already have racing licenses and some experience, we also wanted to show the process of graduating from someone who does track days to someone who becomes a full-on licensed amateur racecar driver.
I’ve shared some hints about my friend Taylor and what he’s been up to with my old street car, a 1995 BMW 325i I once lovingly called “Green Hell.” Taylor’s also been contributing to our YouTube channel with a series of restoration videos on an E21 BMW 320i that sat in a garage for thirty years. In any case, Taylor bought this perfect street car and immediately took everything out of it. Some basic safety gear was installed as he worked through the ranks of the National Auto Sport Association’s “High Performance Driver Education” program, or HPDE for short.
As Taylor progressed, he started upgrading the 325i with parts that fit the rules for NASA’s “Spec3” racing series. A spec racing class requires all cars to be built, in theory, the same way. The rule book defines what you can use for tires, brakes, suspension, and so on. If the rules don’t say you can do it, you probably can’t. This means every car is roughly the same, and the idea of winning or losing comes down to driver talent. It’s a refreshing take compared to my German Touring Series racing class, in which we focus on a power-to-weight ratio and otherwise allow nearly any modification regardless of cost.
With his car fully caged, a fresh set of Toyo RR tires installed, and the Friday competition school fee paid, Taylor showed up at Virginia International Raceway last weekend for one day of intense evaluation, followed (ideally) by two days of racing with his new Spec3 family.
You’ll have to watch the video to see how it all went down – it was an incredibly trying day for Taylor, the green #122 BMW, and my purple #404 BMW. And a Honda Challenge racer and his car. And a few other people. The weather was miserable and as with my competition school experience years ago, everything that could go wrong somehow went wrong.