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95maxrider Reader
4/30/21 12:36 p.m.

Our first couple rally-x events got postponed due to rain (we race on red clay which doesn't drain very well) we finally were able to get some racing in last weekend on Saturday.  Naturally, the event on Sunday got postponed due to more rain.  It seems like most of this season will be held at Summit Point, with only one or two events at Panthera, which is a disappointment since PTC is a much better venue, but what can you do.  At least SP is only a one hour drive instead of two.  Another change is that instead of the normal 8 events, the 2021 season is going to have 10 events!  More racing is always a good thing.

This event (#2, #1 is coming up tomorrow) was on the Barn Course, which is flat and hard packed, with a few decent straights on it, and not much in the way of technical sections.  There are usually some pretty big cone walls near the trees to dissuade people from going too crazy around those turns and having a bad day.  Historically I haven't done well on the Barn Course, but I did win an event on it last year, so maybe I'm getting better at it.  Chris and Stephen generally clean up here for some reason, and sure enough that's how the day started, with Chris laying down an 80 second run while pretty much everyone else was in the 82s and 83s.  After that Stephen started laying down the fast times, with Mike Golden also getting in one real fast lap.  Nonack also laid down a real fast one, but his other runs were marred by cones.  On the fifth and final run in the AM I got back in the swing of things and laid down the fast run of the group, which was the only run to break into the 77s.  The last run got me up into 5th place at lunchtime, but I was only something like 0.2 back from getting into 3rd.  Chris and Stephen were like 4-5 ahead of that, and I didn't think anyone had a chance of catching them in the PM.  I would have been happy to sneak into 3rd.

Neil started off the PM runs with two great runs, but I wasn't far behind.  But on runs 3-5 I was on fire, laying down the fast run for all three.  I think after run 3 I got into 3rd, and after run 4 I passed Stephen and got into 2nd.  I was the first one to break into the 73s, and then on the next run I dropped another second and was the first in the 72s.  There was one run left, could I catch Chris?  If I could just repeat run 4, there was a pretty good chance I would, since that was about 1.5 faster than him.  Well I knocked another 0.1 off my previous run and finished with a 72.8, which was the fastest time of the PM runs, and almost 2 seconds faster than Chris, giving me the win by 0.6!  Stephen laid down his fastest run with a 73.0, passing Chris in the process as well.  It felt incredible to come back from 5th and win like that!  But to be fair, the course was in my favor being so hard packed and wide open, letting me use my power to my advantage.  A tighter slalom here or there could have easily changed things.  And when you consider that two cars (in other classes) with way less HP than me beat me by 1-3 seconds overall, the win is slightly less impressive.  But considering that my fastest PM run was only 1.4 slower than Adam Kimmett's (usually fastest overall in his modded STI) then I guess I can feel proud of that.

Here are a couple pics from Jeramey Kwan.  I finally reinstalled the stock bumper after realizing it didn't sit any lower than the non-M bumper.

And some video:

Events 1 and 3 are scheduled for this weekend, wish me luck!

95maxrider Reader
5/29/21 10:50 a.m.

I'm a few weeks behind schedule as usual, but better late than never.  Here's a wrap up of rallycross event #1 (postponed due to rain).

We ran on the tree course at Summit Point and temps were around 65*.  All the usual suspects were there, which meant any one of the top 8 drivers were capable of winning the event.  The tree course isn't as hard packed as the barn course, which means less grip and more moon dust on the outside of corners.  The course design was pretty open and there weren't many tight/technical sections.

Stephen and Josh started off with fast runs on the first run, but I was only about 0.5 back, which for me is pretty good.  It seems I really take the advice given at the drivers meeting to heart, where they recommend to "start slow and build speed throughout the day".  On the second run, Tyler, a guest driver in Michael Stock's MR2 set a blistering lap, almost 1.5 ahead of Josh, who had the second fastest run.  Then Mike Golden laid down a fast run on the third.  On my third run, disaster struck, when I went a little wide into the moon dust on a right hander and took out part of a cone wall, resulting in 3 cones and time lost in the dust.  I can't remember how far back this put me in the standings, but it was pretty far back.  I guess it motivated me to drive faster, because on the 4th run I had the fast time, and continued to make up time the rest of the day.  Stephen laid down the fast times on the 5th and 6th runs, but I was right behind him.  On our 7th (!) and final run in the AM Mike Golden laid down the fast time again, but he had already hit 3 cones so he wasn't in contention for the lead.  So at lunch Stephen was in first with a number of fastest runs under his belt, and I think Neil was in second with consistent and clean runs, and Josh was in third.

In the PM Eric laid down the fast run to start things off, but Chris and I weren't too far off.  On the second run Tyler once again laid down a scorcher, but due to lots of cones on his other runs wasn't in contention for the win.  I ran the fastest for the third run, and Chris finished the day with the fast run for the 4th run.  Mike Golden finished the day with 9 cones on his last two runs, ruining any chance he had of finishing well, and Neil was the only driver in the class  to not hit a single cone all day.  Looks like Neil is taking over my title of being Mr. Clean!  With my clean and relatively fast runs after my dirty 3rd run I clawed my way back and finished in 4th, less than 3 seconds back from first, and 0.3 back from Josh in 3rd.  Aside from that one mistake I ran well all day and had lots of fun, and in the grand scheme of things 4th isn't bad in this company.  When I went to pack my car up after my final run I discovered that I had ran all afternoon with my jack, jack stand, impact gun, etc still in my trunk!  It was all wedged into my spare tire well pretty tight, which I guess is why I didn't really hear things banging around much when I was on course.  Event #3 was the following day, so I packed the car up, drove home, and prepared to do it all over again.

Here's my best AM and PM runs from the day:


95maxrider Reader
5/29/21 11:23 a.m.

Right on the heels of event #1, we had #3 the following day back at Summit Point, but this time we were on the hard packed barn course and temps had risen to about 80*.  Our event chair and normal course designer was out welcoming his second child to the world, so the course was set up to be a little more technical than usual with some slaloms on the straight-aways to break things up a bit.

True to form, Chris and Stephen traded off putting down the fast run on runs 1-3 while I was a little off the pace.  After the third run I was probably sitting in something like 5th place.  It took a few runs for the dust to get knocked off the hard pack underneath, but once it did I was unstoppable, setting the fast time on 5 of the last 7 runs for the day.  On the last run in the AM, Josh went a little crazy at the finish and took out a ton of cones, knocking him way back in the standings.  With nothing to lose, he laid down the fast runs on runs 1 and 2 in the PM, but there was nothing he could do to come back from that deficit.  I finished in 1st, ahead of Stephen by more than 3 seconds, with Chris about 3 back from him in 3rd.  Neil extended his run of not hitting any cones to three events and finished in 5th, a little behind Eric in 4th.  Come from behind victories always feel extra special, and this was no exception.

I've noticed that when I go back and watch my videos after events, they're always very boring, and I'm left wondering how I put down fast times.  All I can assume is that lots of horsepower covers up mistakes and lack of advanced techniques.  Oh well, enjoy the display of gratuitous horsepower and unfair advantages!


95maxrider Reader
6/14/21 7:55 p.m.

As usual I'm a few weeks behind in posting up race results, and with another race this coming weekend, it's time to catch up!

Event #4 was a few weeks ago, and once again we were back at Summit Point, and we were back on the barn course.  Temperatures were around 85* and it was pretty sunny out.  Adam, our lead organizer, was back and designed the type of course that he likes to run, which is wide open and fast.  With the surface nice and hard packed, conditions were pretty much ideal for my car. 

Eric led off the day with the fast run, but I wasn't too far back from him in second.  I edged ahead of him on the second run for the fast time, with Josh not too far back running in third.  On my third run I gave it a little too much gas in the very tight S curve, sending the rear end all over the place and hitting a cone.  This made me feel like I needed to drive super fast to make up for it, and given the time I ran including the cone and my slow down, I guess I did.  Eric once again laid down the fast run on that one, and was sitting in first.  For my fourth run I drove like the world was about to end, and I put down a time that was about 2 seconds faster than Tyler, who put down the second fastest run, and about 3-4 seconds faster than most everyone else.  Eric hit a cone on his fourth run, so with that I was in first and I didn't look back.  I slowed down a bit on my fifth run, but it was still the fast run of the group, and then for my sixth run I laid down what appears to have been the fastest time out of every driver at the event for the AM runs, putting myself something like 10 seconds ahead on Eric in second.  This sort of lead is extremely uncommon in the MR class, where first through fifth are often separated by like 3 seconds, so I was pretty stoked.  With such a large lead, I didn't exactly go wild in the PM runs, and just tried to not make any mistakes.  Eric started off with the fast run, then Mike Golden followed, then Neil, and finally Tyler on the fourth with a stupid fast run. 

I finished in first, 8.3 seconds ahead of Eric, who was 3.2 ahead of Stephen.  Most people in MR hit either one or two cones for the day, and Neil hit his first cone of the season.  And for only the second time, I had the overall fast time for the day, beating out Adam (the usual FTD) in his modded STI by about 2.6 seconds!  Although to be fair, he did hit 10 freaking cones.  But still, FTD is FTD!  It's not like I did anything special though, it was just the perfect course for my car, and I could use my power to its full advantage.

Event #5 is this coming weekend, and it's a two day event, so it's going to be a slog with high temperatures looking to be around 90*.

I got some new video editing software as the super old Windows Movie Maker I've been using doesn't support 4k, and I decided to have some fun making a silly intro for my videos.  Hope you enjoy!


95maxrider Reader
7/10/21 11:50 a.m.

Event #5 was a two-day event back at Summit Point and I was feeling good about my chances.  But as I pulled into the pits after my second run I noticed steam coming from under the hood so I shut the car off.  Upon opening the hood I saw coolant had been spraying up against the firewall and had coated my skid plate, and I knew I was done for the day.  There are a few coolant hoses at the back of the engine right up against the firewall, and to get to any of them the IM has to come off.  I could see it wasn't either of the short hoses for the heater core valve thing, which meant it was most likely the hose coming off the back of the head, which is even harder to get to.  This was not the sort of job I wanted to tackle in the middle of a hot, dusty field with some random piece of hose.

Thankfully Brian F. let me hop in his freshly thrown together E36 318ti, into which he had recently installed an M50.  The car has only been to like 2-3 events and is far from sorted, having been sitting out in a field for like 5 years or something before the engine swap.  It had fresh tires and shocks, but not much else.  The biggest issue with the car was the stock transmission and diff, which were not well suited for the M50.  2nd gear was topping out at like 44 MPH, whereas my 2nd gear goes to like 61.  This necessitated shifting into 3rd a few times on course, which was further complicated by a super vague shifter that I had trouble finding 2nd in after being in 3rd.  Naturally I was many seconds off the pace of everyone else and was sitting at the back of the pack by the end of the day.  We had another co-driver in the car as well, after the guy blew up a part of the cooling system in his E46 that he had brought out for the first time, so this ti was getting all sorts of abuse thrown at it with 3 drivers.

Things were going well enough through most of the day until about halfway through the afternoon when the ti had some cooling problems of its own and started spewing out coolant.  While Brian tried to figure out what was going on with that, Mike let me drive his MR2 for a run.  I've never driven an MR2 or any mid-engine car before, and the way Mike talked about the car had me a little nervous.  But I laid down one of the fastest times of that run (a cone was called on me, but there was one already down that I honked at, but the horn in the MR2 barely worked from what I could tell).  Man, that little thing was fast and fun!  It obviously put down power very well and was super nimble.  But I could see how a tiny mistake could lead to a spin, and the unassisted steering was definitely a handful.  I finished the day in Shawn and Katie's turbo Miata, which is in no way set up for rally-x.  But since The Unicorn wasn't working, this is what they brought to the event.  I didn't realize how badly it needed to be downshifted into first to get going after tight corners, and spent most of the run waiting for boost to kick in in 2nd.

I spent the next 5 hours drinking beer and waiting for a tow truck and finally made it home around 11.  Even though day 2 of the event was happening the next day there was no real point in me going since Brian wouldn't be coming back with his ti, and I had to start getting the M3 fixed up since it's currently my DD as my I30 awaits for its transmission to be built.  Off came the IM, and sure enough my hunch was right.  The hose coming off the head had split:

I replaced the other larger hose in this area when I did the engine swap a few years back, but somehow didn't do this one, so of course this was the one to fail.  Given the amount of swelling in the hose compared to the new one, there's a good chance it was the original hose.  RealOEM was uncharacteristically incorrect when I searched for the correct hoses, and I had to use a 328i parts diagram to eventually find what I needed.  I ordered all new hoses  for the ones back there, since I really didn't want this to happen again any time soon.

After a round of burping the car was back to normal, so fingers crossed I didn't do any damage.  And with that, the car is back to DD duties for a while as we have two months off before event #6.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/12/21 7:07 p.m.

That's an interesting hose failure. It really looks like it was rubbing against something. 

95maxrider Reader
7/16/21 9:50 a.m.
irish44j (Forum Supporter) said:

That's an interesting hose failure. It really looks like it was rubbing against something. 

First thing I did was to check my motor mounts and make sure nothing had broken, but everything looked fine.  And there was nothing in the vicinity that looked like it could have rubbed against the hose.  The amount of swelling in this hose compared to the new one leads me to believe it was just a 23 year old hose that had had enough.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/17/21 8:42 p.m.

Ah. I figured you being you, every hose would have been replaced when you had the engine out ;)

95maxrider Reader
9/1/21 10:25 a.m.

Event #6 and #7 recap!

For the first time in a long time, we were back at the awesome Panthera Training Center, which was a welcome change of pace from Summit Point.  Historically the courses here are more favorable towards my heavy and powerful car than those at Summit Point, so I was excited to get back out there after my cooling system debacle at the last event.  This was a double header weekend, with #6 on Saturday and #7 on Sunday.  On Saturday we ran on the back side of the course, which is generally tighter and looser than the main/front section, and thus not ideal for my car.  To make matters more challenging we ran it downhill, which really challenged my car.  I've always ran the car with ABS enabled, but I think this weekend finally convinced me to run it disabled in the future.  I actually started the day with the second fastest run in the group, but it was still almost 3 seconds slower than Josh in his E30.  Josh's first run was actually the fastest time in MR all morning, which I guess can only mean that the course got looser at the morning went on.  That, or there was a massive timing error ;)  On my second run going down the first fast hill I triggered the ABS way too hard and it really screwed me up, and I slid off into the moon dust, but my time was still good enough for 3rd in the class.  Things were better on my third run until about 90% of the way through when I heard a loud bang from the rear of the car and then heard a pretty terrible grinding sound.  I limped the car across the finish line some 5-6 slower than it probably would have been and pulled over to see what happened.  Nothing was immediately obvious, so I limped it back up the hill to grid to try and get a better look.  It was then that I saw my front diff bolt hanging out the front of the bushing and I knew the car was done for the day.

Josh was generous and let me co-drive his car for the rest of the day.  His E30/M50 car is some 3-400 pounds lighter than mine, doesn't have ABS, and was running narrow grass Maxsports IIRC, whereas I had been running my wide gravel Maxxis tires (probably a mistake).  By the second turn it was obvious how much better his car braked and turned than mine did, and it took a run to adjust to it all.  Whereas my car slowly considered my requests to turn and brake (and then sometimes ignored them altogether), his car just did it without delay, and it was just so easy to drive.  My car may have 50+ HP over his, but it really wasn't noticeable out there in the moon dust as it had all the power it needed.  I then spent the next 30 minutes calling every shop in the nearest town and nobody had an M12 bolt long enough or strong enough to replace the one I broke.  I located the nearest OEM replacement bolt at BMW Fairfax, and my lovely wife went and picked it up for me in case I was able to drop the diff and extract the one that had snapped.  During lunch it became apparent that nobody had the right sockets to remove the axle bolts, so nothing got done during that break.

In the afternoon I was back in Josh's car, and I was putting down times on par or 0.3-0.4 slower than him, and really enjoyed driving his car.  Eric came back with some fast runs, I had one myself, and Josh ended the day with the fastest run of the group.  Josh took his first win of the season, Eric was about 1.3 behind him, and I came back and finished the day in third, and was the only driver in the top 9 to not hit a cone.  The course also took out another BMW, John and Matt's E30, when they went off course and smashed their oil pan.  Not long after the event ended a massive thunderstorm rolled through, negating any ideas of trying to repair the car in the parking lot before the event the next day.


Even though we got like 3" of rain, we had the event on Sunday and thankfully our run group ran second, so the course was much drier and stickier than it would have been had we run first.  Josh was worried about some noises from his fuel pump and didn't want me to co-drive again, so I hopped back in Brian's E36 Ti that I drove at event #5 after my car died.  It's very much a work in progress and is not as well prepared as other cars in the class.  The exhaust he had installed promptly ripped off on the third corner of my first run, ripping the main O2 sensor off with it, rendering the car obnoxiously loud, and noxious smelling to boot.  This apparently took out a cone when it flew off, and I took out another cone on the downhill slalom since the suspension in the car is very soft and loose.  On my next two runs I was generally 1-2 seconds back from the fastest cars in the class, which was actually pretty good, all things considered.  On my 4th run the car cut off at the same corner that knocked the exhaust off, and wouldn't restart, so I got red flagged and hit with a big (almost 20 second) penalty.  Josh's E30 burst a coolant hose after his first run and he triple drove Brian's Ti with me until the car died on course.  He then got to triple drive Eric's fully prepared E30, and I was lucky to be able to hop in Evan's turbo NA Miata, who had come all the way from Ohio to race with us.

Naturally, the Miata was pretty intuitive to drive, with steering and braking even more immediate and direct than Josh's E30, but it did take a little adjusting to get used to the boost lag, even though it wasn't that bad.  I was putting down times right there with Evan, but they were 2-3 seconds off the pace of the fastest drivers.  From out of nowhere Rick took home the win in his BRZ, after coming in 6th the day before.  Mike put down some stupid fast times in his MR2 but was hampered but his usual bevy of cones and came in 2nd, his best finish of the season.  Josh finished in 3rd, Matt 4th, and Eric 5th.  With my giant penalty I finished way back in 12th.

Big thanks to Josh, Brian, and Evan for letting me co-drive their cars.  The weekend would have sucked way more than it already did if I had to sit around and watch.  And big thanks to Jim for towing my car home while I drove his 2.5 RS!  Talk about a life saver, I really didn't want to have to leave my car at PTC and come back for it the following weekend.

Once I can pull my other car out of the garage the M3 will come in and I'll be replacing the stock M12 bolt with an M14, which will hopefully do the trick.  But I'll be carrying around a spare just in case it doesn't :)  Cross your fingers I didn't do any lasting damage to the diff!

amerson Reader
9/2/21 3:19 a.m.

Nice build. I also enjoyed watching the vids.

95maxrider Reader
9/14/21 11:57 a.m.

I dropped the diff, successfully extracted the broken M12 bolt (woo hoo!), drilled it out to 1/2", and rethreaded it M14x1.5 so I could use an M14 bolt from an X5.  It looks pretty beefy.

The front poly bushing had started to pop out of its sleeve about 1/4", and I had to hammer the crap out of it to get it seated properly again.  I took a tip from Laminar and notched the end of the bolt in the hopes that if it breaks I'll be able to just unscrew it from the back instead of having to extract it, and did the same to the spare that I'll now be bringing to every event.  Bolts like this don't grow on trees!  I also put a dab of blue Loctite on it in the hopes that will prevent it from loosening up.

Oh, and I primed and painted the damage the flange had made to the body of the car when it was flopping around.

When I spun the input shaft I heard a faint grinding noise that alarmed me, but it turns out it was just the dust shield that got knocked off kilter a little bit, and once I straightened it out the noise went away.  Once everything was back together I took it for a spin, and it sure seems like there is a little more diff noise coming through the car than there was before.  I already had plenty before due to the hard poly diff bushings and aluminum subframe bushings.  I'm wondering if the diff bolt had loosened up over time and allowed the diff to pull away slightly from the bushing/subframe, reducing the amount of NVH that was transmitted from the bushing into the body?  Either that, or I did some damage to the bearings on the input shaft.  I only drove the car about 1/4 mile after the bolt broke, and most of that was below 5 mph.  I'll probably change out the fluid just in case.  Let's hope this doesn't happen again!

95maxrider Reader
10/5/21 11:43 a.m.

Alright, time for a recap of events 8 and 9 on another double-header weekend at Panthera Training Center.  The weather was absolutely perfect with temps around 70* and we ran on the "big" course both days, which is usually more favorable to my car versus the smaller and tighter course on the back side of the site.

Josh was sitting out both events due to his E30 needing repairs after a recent stage rally, so that took the second most powerful car in the class out of the picture, which certainly improved my odds.  And Stephen and Chris were still running almost bald tires on their E30 due to a scarcity of 14" tires, so that made things a lot harder for them.  And for the second event in a row, Matt and John's E30 broke early on Saturday (last time they cracked their oil pan, this time they broke a rocker arm) so that took another very fast car out of contention.  Still, that left four other very fast drivers in the class I had to compete with.

Due to fewer than normal competitors, we got 10 runs in the morning and 6 in the afternoon.  John started the day with a blazing fast first run, but the car broke on his second, so that was the end of that for him.  Eric then started laying down very fast runs, but a few cones kept him out of the lead.  Mike then took over with a number of very fast runs, but an off course penalty knocked him out of contention, but he did lay down the fastest run of the morning.  Neil and I were running consistent, but not super fast, and when lunch rolled around Neil was in first and I think I was in second by a few seconds.  The course was reversed in the afternoon and was run in the more uphill direction, likely giving my car more of an advantage.  I then laid down most of the fast runs in the PM session, passing Neil and taking the win by a little over 2 seconds.  Stephen came in third almost 12 seconds back from Neil.  Doing a quick glance over the results it looks like my fastest PM run was only about 0.1 slower than the fastest run of the day, laid down by Adam in his awesome STI, so that's pretty cool.  When it was all tallied up, I was the FTD overall, which is the second time I've done that this season!  Of course the AWD guys put down faster times, but they also hit a ton of cones.

We were back on the big course on Sunday, and Neil just absolutely dominated the morning runs, laying down 5 fastest runs in a row!  Eric was often running even faster, but was hitting cones in the process.  I ran clean and consistent, but wasn't super fast.  Mike once again had the fastest time of the group, but hit too many cones to be competitive.  At lunch I was in third, some 3 seconds back from Eric, who was 7 seconds back from Neil in first.  When the PM runs came around, we had a bit of a surprise.  A newcomer to rallycross and to the MR group, Trevor and his E46 330 ZHP (on snow tires!) laid down most of the fast runs in the afternoon and also laid down the fastest lap for MR.  As far as I'm aware this was only the second event he had been to (the first being the day before) so if he continues to race with us it appears as if the competition will be even tougher!  Neil cooled off in the PM and Eric hit a few more cones, and after I laid down two fast runs I passed Eric and narrowed the gap between Neil to only 5 seconds, and that's how things finished.  Neil in first by 5 seconds, me in second, and Stephen in third again, 3 seconds back from me.

With two strong finishes for the weekend, I almost locked up the season championship with one race left, but not quite.  I think as long as I finish better than 6th place at the final event I'll be the season champ.  This was the first time I've raced the car with ABS disabled, and I'm never going back.  Braking was so much more consistent, and I think stronger as well.  I probably need to adjust my braking points now that I don't have to worry about ABS freaking out all the time and screwing things up.

As I got close to home after the two hour drive I thought the diff was making more noise than normal, but I was so exhausted that I kind of forgot about it for a few days.  In those intervening days I got word that a spot had opened up at the RallyCross National Championship event in Ohio, so I jumped off the waitlist and paid my entry fee!  A day or two later I drove to work and was reminded of the new and excessive noise from the diff.  Before the event the normal whine was louder than normal, but now there was more of a chatter to it as well, so I'm pretty sure some bearings are going bad.  Since I'll be driving the car 400 miles to Ohio, racing, and then driving 400 miles home, I got real worried that the diff wasn't going to survive the trip, so I started looking around for another diff I could install before the event.  Luckily Brian F. (who let me co-drive his E36 ti when my coolant hose burst) had a freshly built 3.15 with new triple clutch packs lying around from his Spec E36 racecar that he agreed to sell to me, so I'm going to pick that up shortly and install it.  The stock ratio in the M3 is a 3.23, but I've been running a 3.38 out of an automatic car, so going to a 3.15 isn't ideal.  But having peace of mind that the car will make it home is worth the hit to acceleration, and who knows, maybe those fresh clutch packs will help offset things for me.  Wish me luck, I'm gonna need it!

95maxrider Reader
10/13/21 8:49 a.m.

With my diff just getting louder and louder, it had to come out before driving to Nats, so I'm in the process of swapping it out.  Apparently the axle flanges on this 3.15 diff are smaller than mine so my axles won't fit, but apparently I can just swap them from case to case.  I also need to swap my cover over to this diff.

But over the weekend I finally got around to installing my BimmerWorld silicone intake boot, which replaces the secondary (primary?) throttle body for the traction control.  I had removed the flap from inside that TB years ago, but never removed it entirely because it will disable ABS if you do so.  Well apparently I missed the memo, and all you need to do to trick the ABS system is to install a 10 ohm 1 watt resistor across the two wires for the ASC actuator and Bob's your uncle.

Which allowed me to remove all of this junk:

Not mentioned in the how-to is the need for shorter screws to attach the TB to the IM, as the removal of the adapter plate caused the original bolts to bottom out.

After a lot of test fitting and trimming, I finally got everything to fit the way I wanted. 

My DS fender liner ripped out at the last event, which allowed a ton of dust to get thrown up directly onto my air filter.  Since I couldn't source another one in time, I hacked up what was left of the old liner and made a little shield to cover the gap below the filter with the hope it will allow the filter to get cleaner air and not get clogged up so quick.

While I was in there I discovered that my throttle cable was a little loose so I snugged that up and the pedal feels better now with no dead travel.  I also gave the car an oil change.  More progress to come!

95maxrider Reader
11/2/21 11:21 a.m.

Before I get into the super long post about the Nats results, I figured I should keep things in order and post up about the diff swap.

So my diff was getting louder and louder, and I had the feeling that it wouldn't make the 800 mile round trip to Nats.  If it did, it surely would have deafened me with its incessant whining.  So rather than risk a diff failure in the middle of nowhere, I needed to find a replacement, and fast.  Luckily, fellow rally-xer Brian F. (who let me co-drive and then break his E36 Ti) had a recently freshened up 3.15 available from his wrecked Spec 3 race car.  When we initially spoke, he said it had the triple clutch pack upgrade, which I really wanted since that's what I've been running for the last 6 years.  But upon arrival at his house and talking some more, he realized it just had the stock 2 clutch packs, since the diff needed to be stock for Spec racing.  Oh well, at least they were fresh clutch packs.  The 3.15 ratio wasn't ideal compared to the 3.38 I'm used to, but I didn't really have any other options; I had to get something in the car.

Before I could install it I had to swap over my diff cover since his didn't come with bushings, and I had to drill out the front mounting hole from M12 to M14 so I could use my larger bolt.  While I was preparing everything I realized the axle flanges on his diff were smaller than mine, so I had to swap those over.

It wasn't until I was part way through the job did I realize I could have just popped the stub axles out instead of removing all that other crap, but oh well.  I also learned that there are two different 4 bolt input flanges; the one from my car has 6 holes for some reason, but only 4 are used, and the one from Brian had 4 holes.  My 6 hole input flange does not work with 6 bolt driveshaft flanges.  Go figure.

Both diff covers were sealed up with RTV, so I had a great time cleaning all of that off.  I had bought an OEM paper gasket, so I crossed my fingers that it would seal properly.  I knew I was probably going to be taking this cover off again pretty soon and didn't want to deal with more RTV.

And with that, I installed the 3.15 and went for a test drive.  And you know what?  The diff whine was gone!  Like, completely gone!  Apparently the diff I've had in my car the last 6 years has had a bad bearing this whole time, but the diff bolt breaking and the ensuing contact against the body had just made it worse.  This whole time I thought the whine I was hearing was normal, a function of having aluminum subframe bushings and poly (or delrin?) diff bushings.  Everything was installed at the same time, so I had no idea which part caused the whine.  But no, I've been driving around with a slowly failing bearing.  Which would explain why my diff fluid has looked like this every time I drain it (about every 2,000 miles/annually).

I just figured it looked like this because of the additional clutch pack, but I'm now pretty certain that was not the case!  Now instead of being deafened by diff whine and exhaust drone when cruising on the highway, I'm now just being deafened by exhaust drone.  Great success!  I could tell there was a slight reduction in acceleration from the longer ratio, but it wasn't crazy, and it did make things a little calmer on the highway.  And honestly at Nats I couldn't tell the difference between having two new clutch packs and three older ones.  That said, I think I'm going to have my 3.38 rebuilt and sell this 3.15 when the season is done.

95maxrider Reader
11/6/21 9:28 a.m.

2021 RallyCross National Championship in Chillicothe, OH

Oct. 15-17 at the Ross County Fairgrounds

I'd like to do a write-up of the National Championship event from the perspective of the MR class and as a member of the DC region who rarely ventures outside the region. This is probably going to be too long and detailed for a lot of you, so I'll try to break it into sections so you can skim through if you would like.

First things first, I finished in 5th place, which due to the 14 competitors in the class, meant I snagged the last trophy spot. Hooray! The car made the 800+ mile round trip without a hiccup, and the event was a ton of fun for a variety of reasons. I also have a thorough and exhaustive list of the best excuses for why I didn't finish higher, so, you know, there's that.

The route we took to Ohio took us past one of our old venues in Frostburg, MD and on the way my wife (she drove her FX35 because we couldn't fit everything in my car, and she hates riding in it anyways) and I stopped at the ol' rest stop at the top of a mountain.  Each way was about 7 hours.


The Weather

The weather can have a pretty big impact on RallyCross, and we had our fair share of interesting and changing conditions over the weekend. On Friday afternoon during tech inspection and the running of the 20 second practice course, temps were around 60* with a decent breeze. It started to drizzle pretty early, and the forecast called for rain overnight into Saturday morning. My wife and I stayed at an Airbnb, but a lot of competitors camped at the venue. All of us were jolted awake around 2 AM when our phones started going off, warning about a tornado alert, which was followed by another blaring alert 15 minutes later. It was around that time that the town tornado siren started going off. Naturally, I popped in some ear plugs and tried to go back to sleep, but those who were camping weren't quite so lucky. They had to pile into the (not large enough) bathroom building a ways away from the camp site and huddle there until everything passed. Winds were pretty strong and pop ups and tents were mangled as a result.

Saturday morning came around and it was still lightly raining when things started around 8, but it stopped not long after. From then on things slowly started to dry up, helped along by generous helpings of wind, but not much sun. Things started out even colder Sunday morning with temps in the low 40s, but thankfully the wind died down and the sun came out, so it didn't feel terrible.

The venue, surface conditions, and tire choices

The Ross County Fairgrounds site we were on was apparently once a parking lot (or something?) so the base was composed of rocks and gravel, which then had a layer of dirt on top of it that's a few inches deep. The surface was remarkable in that it held up incredibly well considering there were something like 125 people racing on it. There was very little rutting and once things dried up the grip levels were pretty good. Granted, they weren't Panthera or Summit Point Barn course levels of grip, but it was pretty good considering.

It helped that we ran three different courses that didn't really overlap. One Saturday AM (3 runs), another in the PM (3 runs), and then a third on Sunday (4 runs).

Most (8 of the 14) people in MR came prepared with tires that were basically tailor made for the conditions Saturday morning when things were still a little wet. Apparently the hot tires for that are either Alpha Eurocross or Alpha Radials. I'm not really sure what the differences are, maybe someone can chime in with that info. A number of people had brand new sets of them. I also saw a set of the Alpha Ultracross on a car. And wouldn't you know it, but the top 6 drivers Saturday morning all had some version of the Alphas on their car.

As condition dried out, tire choice became slightly less important and things equalized a little bit, but the fastest drivers still all ran Alphas Saturday afternoon. When Sunday morning came around, Brianne Corn made the switch from Alphas to Hoosiers, but I think that was the only tire change in the class.


Course design

The area we raced on was an open grass field with some elevation change. Nothing too steep or abrupt, but it was there. If I were to compare it to Summit Point Barn course (elevation change = 1) and Panthera (EC = 10), I would probably rate this at a 3 or 4.

As far as the course design went, it was completely different than what we've been running on in DC for the last 4 years. We're used to a pretty set course design, with variations limited to cone placement, due to running on established, compacted courses that we're not allowed to expand or open up. Obviously, running in an open field really changes things, which manifested itself in two main ways.

One, outside cones weren't really used at all. This allowed drivers to choose their own lines and experiment without fear of going over a cliff (Mike/Panthera) or hitting a cone wall (also, Mike). This had the effect of preventing the course from rutting up since there was a lot more variation in lines, while also allowing more aggressive driving styles to flourish.

Secondly, the open layout allowed vastly different courses to be set up that didn't reuse any elements from previous courses. Unlike DC, this meant that there was no running the same course, just backwards, in the PM. No, each of the three courses was completely new and required everyone to learn them on the fly. The speed with which the courses were set up was very impressive, and the variety was a refreshing change.


The MR competitors

1st place

John England - 1995 Mazda Miata, Supercharged on Alpha Eurocross tires. Apparently junky shock absorbers on stock (?) springs

Saturday AM- 4th place

Saturday PM- 1st place

Sunday- 3rd place


2nd place

Brianne Corn - 1999 Mazda Miata, mild bolt-ons, Penske shocks. Alpha Radials and Hoosiers.

**Peter Dozeman and his blue snowplow of a Miata (that Brianne drove and won with in 2020) had to drop out of the event at the last minute, so Brianne drove her personal Miata. It is not nearly as modified as Peter's car.**

Saturday AM- 1st place

Saturday PM- 10th place (off course penalty after course change)

Sunday- 1st place

(Picture missing)


3rd place

Mike Golden - 1986 Toyota MR2, 2ZZ + 6 speed swap, Quaife diff and steering rack, Euro Escort rally shocks, new Alpha Radials

Saturday AM- 2nd place

Saturday PM- 2nd place

Sunday- 6th place


4th place

Pete Remner - 1984 Mazda RX7, modded rotary making about 200 whp, Ford 9" (?) rear end, lots of mods. Dmacks in the rear, can't remember what was in front.

Saturday AM- 8th place

Saturday PM- 6th place

Sunday- 2nd place



Nick Drymalski (me) - 1998 BMW M3, JVAB suspension, bolt-ons, Maxsports

Saturday AM- 7th place

Saturday PM- 5th place

Sunday- 4th place



Scott Beute - 1989 Ford Mustang 5.0, bolt-ons, caged, wide and grooved snow tires

Saturday AM- 12th place

Saturday PM- 3rd place

Sunday- 5th place



Rick Landis - 2013 Subaru BRZ, not sure of mods, and I think he was on gravel tires all weekend

Saturday AM- 9th place

Saturday PM- 4th place

Sunday- 8th place

(Picture missing)



Ryan Redenbaugh - 1985 Toyota Corolla, not sure of mods, Alpha Eurocross

Saturday AM- 5th place

Saturday PM- 8th place

Sunday- 10th place



Doug Leibman - 1971 VW Super Beetle, modded engine, just a shell of a car, Alpha Radials

Saturday AM- 3rd place

Saturday PM- 9th place

Sunday- 12th place



Evan Authur - 1990 Mazda Miata, Mazdaspeed swapped turbo engine, pretty gutted, Pirelli Scorpion (gravel?) tires

Saturday AM- 13th place

Saturday PM- 7th place

Sunday- 7th place



Jon Yanca - 2006 Mazda Miata, 2.5 Duratec swap with cams, snow tires

Saturday AM- 10th place

Saturday PM- 12th place (off course)

Sunday- 11th place



Howie Johnson - 1995 BMW 318Ti - stock engine, gutted interior, Alpha Ultracross Sat. AM, then switched to Alpha Eurocross

Saturday AM- 6th place

Saturday PM- 14th place (DNF)

Sunday- 9th place



Brian Strack - 1985 Toyota Corolla, not sure of mods, Alpha Eurocross

Saturday AM- 11th place

Saturday PM- 13th place

Sunday- 13th place



Todd Wicker - 1988 BMW 325is - 885 head swap with cams, mostly gutted, Alpha Eurocross

Saturday AM- 14th place

Saturday PM- 11th place

Sunday- 14th place (DNF)


How it all played out

MR ran in the third of four run groups, so when we got started Saturday morning the course wasn't as wet as it was when the first run group went out. But still, there wasn't a ton of grip out there, and tire selection was crucial to finishing order. Mike Golden started the day with the fast run, with Brianne commenting to him that his speed worried her. This was surely the coolest thing anyone has ever said to Mike ;) From there, Brianne took over with the fast time on the last two runs and laid down the fastest time of the group on her last run. Mike was in 2nd, and Doug Leibman in the Super Beetle was in 3rd. All of the top 6 drivers had some form of Alphas on their car. I was the top driver who didn't have Alphas, finishing in 7th.

In the afternoon, the Alpha advantage seemed to dissipate as the more powerful cars were able to put their power down a little better, but again, lightness was king. After finishing 4th in the morning, John England put the smackdown on the entire class, putting down the fast time on all three PM runs as well as the fast time for the session. Brianne wasn't far behind, but after a course change before the third and final run, she made a mistake and went off course and drew a 10 second penalty, which dropped her into third when runs were over. That mistake allowed John to move into first and Mike into second. With a decent showing I moved into 4th. I'm not sure what happened to Doug in the Beetle after his strong finish in the morning, but he fell way back in the standings. I'd say the most surprising thing that happened was Scott Beute driving his 1989 Mustang 5.0 to a 3rd place finish in the PM runs after finishing 12th in the AM. The Mustang was not only the heaviest car in MR, apparently weighing around 3,500 pounds after the cage was installed, but also the most powerful, with over 300 HP. Great driving Scott!

Sunday morning rolled around after a far less eventful Saturday night (thankfully no more tornado warnings) and the course was drier than it was Saturday afternoon. It wasn't dry enough that cars were kicking up dust, but it certainly wasn't wet anymore. Brianne and John traded fast runs, with Mike off the pace a little bit. But Pete Remner in his RX7 got in the swing of things and was putting down very competitive times. I was running consistently and decently as well. On the third run disaster struck, with Mike rolling his MR2 after it apparently had a debead. Thankfully Mike was relatively unscathed with only some cuts on his elbow.

With the audacity that only a wizard can muster (have you seen his beard?), he successfully argued that since the tire debeaded BEFORE the rollover (hard to prove or disprove) that instead of getting a red flag penalty, he should instead get a re-run. With most of MR offering up their car for him to drive, he chose John's supercharged Miata which was currently sitting in first place for his re-run and then his 4th and final run. Mike's review of the car was something like "it's heatsoaked and doesn't have much power, and the suspension is garbage (blown shocks)". As a result, Mike was quite off the pace his last two runs, which dropped him from 2nd into 3rd and Brianne passed him. Had Mike finished the day in his car he may have held onto 2nd, or Brianne may have passed him, it's hard to say. On his 4th and final run Pete decided to release the kraken and laid down the fastest time of the group, passing me in the process and finished in 4th overall. I finished in 5th, which due to the 14 competitors in MR, meant I got the last trophy spot.


Final thoughts

This shouldn't be news to anyone, but tires and weight are very important. The top three finishers all had Alpha tires (although Brianne switched to Hoosiers on Sunday) and curb weights below 2,500 pounds, with the Miatas probably weighing closer to 2,200. I wouldn't call the surface super loose, like the moon dust we can get on parts of the Panthera course, but it was also far from grippy like the hard-packed surface we have on other parts of Panthera and Summit Point. I know I didn't drive perfectly, and left some time on the table, but I didn't make any mistakes either. Considering my car weighs anywhere between 600-900 pounds more than the cars that finished in front of me, I guess I can only expect so much. On hard-packed surfaces like we run on in the DC region I can make up for my heft with my horsepower, but that wasn't possible on this surface.

It was a great opportunity to compete against multiple prior MR champions, as well as a ton of other great drivers in interesting and new (to me) cars. It's not often that we get to run on a completely new type of surface with a completely new type of course design, and I was grateful for the opportunity. If Nats come back to Ohio again in the future, I'll probably make the trek, but I may bring some Alphas with me ;)

95maxrider Reader
11/19/21 4:16 p.m.

Don't everyone comment at once now!  I feel like I'm talking to myself here.

I finally got around to putting together my video from Nats, check it out!


ojannen Reader
11/19/21 4:49 p.m.

On midwest dirt, it seems like 3 sets of tires are mandatory to keep up with the Joneses.  Gravels/gravel retreads, a grass/dew tire, and a dedicated mud tire.  I decided to attend the birth of my 2nd child instead of going to nationals but our original plan was 3 or 4 new sets of tires just for the event.  It is a tough money commitment in the southeast where wet clay or sand cancels events instead of forcing tire changes.

I have heard of a number of debeads on rwd cars with the alpha eurocrosses and radials.  More than one of the front debeads turned into roll overs.  I am curious what is different on these tires.  In the past, debeads felt less common except for driven front wheels.

That Mustang looks pretty cool.

I have noticed in videos of the DC region courses, corners often end with a narrow gate that restricts the driving line.  I think it pushes everyone into a similar tarmac style because there is a single fast way through the corner.  In my local events, courses can go to far in the other direction and everyone just goes for the biggest drift.  Both styles are fun in moderation.

I wonder if any car can buck the trend of the lightest car with the lowest rotating weight winning in PR/MR.  Things are roughly even in the dry but the lightweight cars seem to have a huge advantage as soon as the grip level starts to go down.

95maxrider Reader
11/19/21 7:51 p.m.
ojannen said:

On midwest dirt, it seems like 3 sets of tires are mandatory to keep up with the Joneses.  Gravels/gravel retreads, a grass/dew tire, and a dedicated mud tire.  I decided to attend the birth of my 2nd child instead of going to nationals but our original plan was 3 or 4 new sets of tires just for the event.  It is a tough money commitment in the southeast where wet clay or sand cancels events instead of forcing tire changes.

I have heard of a number of debeads on rwd cars with the alpha eurocrosses and radials.  More than one of the front debeads turned into roll overs.  I am curious what is different on these tires.  In the past, debeads felt less common except for driven front wheels.

That Mustang looks pretty cool.

I have noticed in videos of the DC region courses, corners often end with a narrow gate that restricts the driving line.  I think it pushes everyone into a similar tarmac style because there is a single fast way through the corner.  In my local events, courses can go to far in the other direction and everyone just goes for the biggest drift.  Both styles are fun in moderation.

I wonder if any car can buck the trend of the lightest car with the lowest rotating weight winning in PR/MR.  Things are roughly even in the dry but the lightweight cars seem to have a huge advantage as soon as the grip level starts to go down.

I think you made the right decision to attend the birth of your child!  What car were you planning on bringing?

Yeah, I just can't swing buying a new set of tires (let alone multiple) for a single event unless I can use them frequently back home in DC.  That alone is probably enough to keep you off the podium at Nats.  I was hoping RallyCross Nats would be different from Solo Nats in that regard, but I guess not.

In DC most RWD cars run Maxsports, usually because of their low cost, but with no availability in 14" sizes (which is what most of my E30 competitors run) that may begin to change.  Some of the E30 guys have debeaded their Maxsports, but thankfully none of them have rolled because of it.  The lack of a reinforced sidewall I'm sure is a large component of that.  If it's true that Mike in the MR2 debeaded before his rollover, then his Alphas surely played a part in that.  I had to use my Maxsports at Nats simply because my Maxxis gravel tires were an inferior option, but I don't particularly like driving on Maxsports.  First off, they're only available in a 185, which is pretty puny for a 3,100 lb, 260 HP car like mine.  My Maxxis tires are a 205 and put down power much better.  Second, I think I just like the feel of the stiff sidewall that the Maxxis tires have.

I agree with your analysis that grip equalizes things a bit, and I just don't see a way around lighter weight being the way to win.  If I had to guess, I would have been ~5 seconds faster if I were on fresh Alpha Radials Saturday morning, but that still would have left me ~10 seconds back from first at the end of Sunday instead of 15.  I know I didn't drive flawlessly and could have pushed harder in some areas, but there was just no way I could have made up that 10 second gap.  Low weight is king.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
11/19/21 10:33 p.m.

Just catching up, but yeah, kind of played out as I expected - those with tires were fastest, those without weren't. It will never be worth it for me to buy the Alphas or other smooshy $$ tires, since they're worthless at the DC venues and even more worthless on stage, kind of one of the reasons I don't bother with nationals between a heavy car (you know, but with less power than you) and usually running half-worn gravels. 

In any case, good showing and I think probably better than I expected you'd do considering the tires, honestly. 

Also congrats on the DC championship. I'm starting to forget what it's like to win consistently, maybe we need to find a venue with less grip :)

ojannen Reader
11/21/21 4:01 p.m.

I would have brought the 318ti I ran at the rally farm a few years ago.  Raw times are getting close to where they should be.  I still hit too many cones though.

We ran against Sean and Katie at the sediv challenge in Tennessee over the summer.  They blew their engine on the 2nd day and Sean hopped in the car for a few runs.  The good news is that I am pretty close to him with big chunks of time lost to poor line or gear choice.  I was afraid I was losing a tenth every corner but it was more like 0.75 seconds each on two corners.

The 318ti in mod had a debead into a rollover a month or so before nationals.  I think teething issues on the new shell kept him out of a better finish.  I thought debeads in rwd cars were pretty rare but I have heard of a lot in the last year.

cghstang_chris Dork
11/22/21 7:45 a.m.
95maxrider said:

Don't everyone comment at once now!  I feel like I'm talking to myself here.

Us lurkers appreciate the detailed RXNC write-up.

95maxrider Reader
11/22/21 9:52 a.m.
ojannen said:

I would have brought the 318ti I ran at the rally farm a few years ago.  Raw times are getting close to where they should be.  I still hit too many cones though.

We ran against Sean and Katie at the sediv challenge in Tennessee over the summer.  They blew their engine on the 2nd day and Sean hopped in the car for a few runs.  The good news is that I am pretty close to him with big chunks of time lost to poor line or gear choice.  I was afraid I was losing a tenth every corner but it was more like 0.75 seconds each on two corners.

The 318ti in mod had a debead into a rollover a month or so before nationals.  I think teething issues on the new shell kept him out of a better finish.  I thought debeads in rwd cars were pretty rare but I have heard of a lot in the last year.

Ahh yeah, I remember that car.  Refresh my memory, did it have an S52 swap?  The 318ti that rolled, was that a different car?

95maxrider Reader
11/22/21 9:57 a.m.
cghstang_chris said:
95maxrider said:

Don't everyone comment at once now!  I feel like I'm talking to myself here.

Us lurkers appreciate the detailed RXNC write-up.

I'm glad somebody read all that! wink

ojannen Reader
11/22/21 3:15 p.m.

In reply to 95maxrider :

I am not sure what is in it now.  It trophied last year at nationals in PR.  I don't know if the owner just stripped the interior or did a full swap in the move to MR.  The car was black with green/yellow trim and Style 32 wheels so all my friends thought I was traveling the country when pictures popped up.  According to facebook, a codriver rolled the car the first week of October and they swapped shells the following weekend.

StripesSA1 Reader
11/22/21 10:04 p.m.
95maxrider said:
cghstang_chris said:
95maxrider said:

Don't everyone comment at once now!  I feel like I'm talking to myself here.

Us lurkers appreciate the detailed RXNC write-up.

I'm glad somebody read all that! wink

He is not the only one. With nothing like Rallycross in South Africa, your thread, Nonack, irishj and a couple of others keeps me interested in the sport, and wishing for something similar to appear someday

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