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upgrade path for HPDE dedicated car


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Hello everyone. I just completed my first HPDE a couple of weeks ago. I used my 89 e30 m30 and had a blast. The instructor the NASA guys set me up with is a fellow e30 driver and has a long driving history. I thoroughly enjoyed learning from him; thanks Micheal!! The download seasons and the classroom sessions were great. The experience was exactly what I was looking for. (a world apart from the Chumps racing experience I had last year.) Here is a picture from the track.




As a result I have already signed up for the full schedule at HMS for this year.


This is not my DD, nor is it a regular driver. I picked it up cheap last year while I was wrapping up my restoration project (74 Alfa GTV) to hold me over. Since finishing the Alfa I have not been driving it much. Mater of fact I was considering selling it. After the HPDE I have decided to keep it until I am ready for a full race car; probably a se30 though I am in no rush to get there.


I want to go about this HPDE process as safely as possible. All though my resources are not infinite I can certainly put some money into the car in terms of safety items. I am looking for advice on the order of upgrades. Here is what I have in mind:


Already in the works:

replace miscellaneous bushings that are worn (only a few need to be address, many were done when the motor was swapped)

Brake pads and fluid



Things to do:

roll bar (bolt in with upgraded pads)

shocks and springs (the front is a bit soft and I believe the shocks are at the end of their life span)

reinforce suspension mounts (e30 is known to have certain week points here)

front defuser (mine is missing)


Given what I have described should I put money towards the roll bar or the suspension upgrades first?





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I started 1.5 years ago like you. Although I took my daily driver (SRT8 Charger), I figured I'd run it to see how I liked it......I LOVED IT.


I made the mistake of upgrading brakes, wheels/tires, and a few other things but I knew all along that car would never be an actual race car. I felt I simply didn't have the funds to buy a dedicated race car. Last fall, after spending a fair amount of money on the Charger, I finally bought a CMC car (which is the class I want to get into).


You have the 325 as an extra car and could sell it without effecting work, etc. If you truely believe you will be a regular on the track the cheapest way you can drive a safe/caged car is to buy one already complete. Only you can answer that but do the math. What can you sell your current car for and what will a mostly complete E30 car cost you....a class ready car can be easily found for under $10K and getting around $5-6K should get you a car you can run now and finish to spec later. Offset that with selling what you have and it's probably your best bet. You'll need a trailer to get back/forth but that will happen the first time you hit something....which will make you cry if it's a street car.

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I have an E30, and have been doing HPDEs for the last few years with it, planning on going into SpecE30. Since that was my plan all along, I incrementally built the car from a street -> DE -> race-ready car.


Race seats make a huge difference in allowing you to focus on driving, rather than bracing yourself from sliding around. Harnesses do as well. Unfortunately, you can't do harnesses without a cage, and your car seems like a nice street car, and tearing out the interior might be heartbreaking. Perhaps your best bet would be to get a set of aftermarket sport seats (not fixed-back racing shells), use the stock 3-point belts, and continue to DE the car, and then sell it and buy a fully or partially prepped SpecE30 when you're ready.


As far as E30-specific upgrades:

-I have the SpecE30 suspension: H&R Race springs, Bilstein shocks, and thicker sway bars. I'm satisfied with it.

-I assume your motor mounts are new from the swap, so they might be okay. Stock motor mounts are known to shear, and poly-through bolt motor mounts are advisable. Poly trans mounts will make the car uncomforatbly loud on the street.

-Use an aftermarket "heavy duty" rear shock mount. Stockers aren't ready for stiffer rear shocks.

-You need to weld on reinforcement tabs (included in most kits) to the sway bar mounting points on the rear trailing arms if you add a thicker rear sway bar.


The front lip is pretty much just cosmetic.


5-6 years ago, E30s with M30 swaps used to be the "big power" upgrade, nowadays everyone is swapping newer motors and M30 cars have become less desirable. Personally, I like the idea of a period-correct small motor for big motor swap.


Good luck and welcome to the addiction!

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I appreciate your guys input. Lets pretend for a moment I will not end up in a race car and will not get into W2W racing. (I am saying this as its a long way off and there is no sense in planning around something that may or may not happen)


I really want a safe and well performing e30 to use on the track for DE's.


Worn out shocks is not ideal and not the safest condition for my car. Worn out shock mounts also not ideal. While I am at it i should reinforce those points as I don't want to have to deal with broken shock towers in the rear.


I could probably do without replacing the springs for right now. They are H&R Sport springs, a little on the soft side according to the local se30 guys.


Is the roll bar really needed for HPDE? How likely am I to have an issue... I am with you on this one Cheapthrills; I will not be removing the interior on this car as its a nice car. The roll bar seemed like a good compromise...but then again a compromise.





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I was at HMS with nasa Jan 5-6 as well.

It was a great event.


Depending on where you live, there are some great BMW shops around.


in Miami, http://www.tuatyracing.com/

David Tuaty. He is Pro racer in Grand AM, world challenge, and others.


In Broward, Redline Racing, in Pompano.


I would start with the weak, worn out parts. I know nothing about bmw's, but shocks, bushings, etc.

Brakes, then some safety mods.


But I do agree that the best route might be to find a car already done, or, mostly done.


I'll be out there again in March. I'll look out for you and you car.


Mitch S.

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SE30 might be tough with this car as its had a motor swap (m30 vs m20 - 3.5L vs 2.5L). In theory I could swap in a stock engine and tranny but I would need to make certain all the necessary auxiliary parts are also present. That definitely would drive the build cost up significantly. When and if that day arrives I would probably go out and buy a built car for my first se30. Having this one tweaked, tuned, and tight will help me get top dollar for it when I am ready for W2W.




It was a great event. I have signed up for the rest of the HMS events for the year. Will probably try and do one at Sebring too if the time allows. I will definitely look for you to say hello.


It looks like I am going to do the maintenance items first then the safety bits. Prevention is the first line of defense.


Ordered reman calipers from Advance Auto Saturday. 37$ each!! Cant beat that with a stick. Will be ordering the new shocks soon too. Going to go with the SE30 Bilsteins.





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Ordered reman calipers from Advance Auto Saturday. 37$ each!! Cant beat that with a stick.

At first glance I thought that said "375 each!! Can't beat that with a stick." and I was in absolute shock.

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I'll be at HMS in Marc, I'm sure we'll get a chance to chat.

I"ll be with the Mustang crowd.


gobuffs made a very valid point.

I was exactly where you were about 5 years ago, except with a Mustang.

I basically threw the entire Maximum Motorsports catalog at my car.


If I do it again, I would be very particular about the modding process.


I cant run TT, I would have to many points.

Cant run AI, down on power, and its still a street car, technically.


So, wise move to to all the maintenance first, and talk to the E30 guys at the track, and get their opinions.


But he fact that the motor has been swapped, maybe it will just make a good track day car only.


Ok, See you in March.

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I cant run TT, I would have to many points.


This statement is impossible mathematically unless you have a car wherein whp exceeds the weight by such a great margin that it has a negative PTW number...somehow...

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TTU, 1, 2, and 3 don't care about points - just hp/weight and a couple small things like OEM frame rails, floorpan, etc and even those last few small things can be reconciled by using STR to TT class conversions. Do eeeiiiitttt


hell for TTU you only need to have 4 wheels and 4 fenders - THATS IT!

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hell for TTU you only need to have 4 wheels and 4 fenders - THATS IT!

Dang I have four wheels and fenders off a parts car sitting in the warehouse right now! I am going racing!!


Thanks for all the input everyone. Parts have started to arrive and the disassembly has begun!





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Even with a motor swap, I'd still build everything else towards SE30. Swapping out a motor isn't that hard. I wouldn't say that a M30 swapped E30 is worth more than a SE30. An S50 or S54 swapped E30 is a different story.


I wouldn't do a mod that isn't SE30 legal that isn't easily reversible.

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