Production BMW Championship - George Sealey - BMW 320 E30

George Sealey competes in the 2nd race of the Production BMW 2013 Championship, in his BMW 320 E30, at Donington Park.

 

Production BMW Championship
Production BMW Championship

 

Production BMW Championship
Production BMW Championship

 

Production BMW Championship
Production BMW Championship

 

 

What is the Production BMW Championship?
The Production BMW Championship is a one-make race series specifically designed to provide close, friendly and as much as possible cheap racing for any driver from beginner to advanced.

How did this all start?
A number of Lotus track day regulars had been thinking about getting into motorsport. Going racing in a Lotus at the time was an expensive excercise so alternatives were considered. The BMW E30 (3-series from the late eighties) fitted the bill for a cheap and robust car with all-important rear wheel drive. Most of the original group behind the BMW series went on to set up the Elise Trophy.

Exactly what BMW models are you racing?
We are using the BMW E30, the 3-series car made between 1983 and 1990. Only the 318i and 320i are permitted, with the M40 or M20 engines respectively.

They're not going to be very fast, are they?
No, they won't be very fast... but they will certainly be entertaining! The E30 is known for its tail-happy handling and the race cars will be put on a diet to improve their power-to-weight ratio. Being a single make series all the cars are close to identical and so although you might not be going very fast, nor is anyone else which makes for close exciting racing.

What circuits are you racing at?
Please see the provisional 2012 calendar click here

Can I join in?
Absolutely, please e-mail for the latest information and availability. There copies of the latest version of the regulations, introduction guides, car preperation information in the Regs & Downloads part of this website.

How much will it cost?
Costs for the car itself typically range from £100-1000. Costs for preparing the car with the necessary safety equipment and racing parts are expected to start from £1,600 for the parts themselves. Labour costs for fitting these parts range from £200 for only the roll cage to £2,000 for everything. The original target costs were £3,000 for everything you need to go racing and this is achievable for the DIY mechanic. Personal safety equipment and an ARDS license will also be required.

Car Details
The cars used are the BMW e30 3 series that were in production between 1983 and 1990 (with the touring body continuing to 1993). There are two model variants allowed, the 8 valve 318i and the 12 valve 320i. There are various body styles currently being used, 2 door, 4 door and even some Tourings (Estate), however, preference lies with the 2 door. The 318 must have the 4 cylinder non carburettor engine (the M40) and the 320 uses the smallest of the 6 pot engines (the M20).

The power to weight ratio for the two is broadly similar, however the 320i does have a slight advantage, although the 318i is 70kg lighter in road trim. The 320 produces slightly more torque which often helps in the straight line speed, whereas the 318 does have the advantage in twisty sections. Generally speaking, on track the 320 is the more forgiving car, but that is not to say that the 318 is not a competitive car in the right hands.

Wherever possible the cars are kept to as near standard as possible thus ensuring no-one driver has competitive advantage over another. This is not to say that there is not room for some minor tinkering, however, the cars are regularly and strictly tested to ensure a level playing field.

Because the course of time has an effect on older cars, drivers often replace many of the parts susceptible to wear, for example, bushes and cooling components. Suspension is also up-rated over the standard set-up. Also, to ensure standardisation, all competitors race on 195/50/15 Marangoni Zeta Linea Sport.

Competitors are allowed to strip most of the unnecessary interior components from the car until they reach the minimum weight. Safety is of paramount importance and the other changes that are made are essential items, for example, race seat and harness, roll cage and fire extinguisher. Driving standards are very good and contact is generally avoided at all costs, however the Championship has ensured that safety systems are generally 'over speced' as accidents can still happen.

Although the exception rather than the rule, some of the cars are road legal and can be driven to and from the circuit.

How do I prepare the car?
Please see the preparation guide below.

1. Buy a BMW E30
The BMW E30 is the boxy 3-series from the late-eighties. In order to fit a suitable roll-cage you should ideally be looking at 2-door coupe models, although 4-door and touring versions are allowed. There are two allowed models:
a. 318i (1987-1990). It must have the M40 engine which is a fuel-injected, 8-valve four-cylinder. The carburetted 318 (M10) and 16V 318iS (M42) are not permitted.

b. 320i (1985-1990). It must have the M20 six-cylinder engine. The 320i has a slight power-to-weight advantage, although the 318i is 70kg ligher in road trim

2. Get your car checked over
Before you go spending a lot of money on parts and labour, get your car properly checked over by a specialist and solve any immediate problems. Most cars are also going to need some TLC in the form of a full service.

3. Order your safety equipment and performance parts
Some of the kit can take a long time to arrive so order it now before starting work on the car. You will need the following safety equipment:
a. Multi-point roll cage
b. 6-point, FIA approved safety harness
c. FIA approved seat with lateral head support (an "eared seat")
d. Plumbed-in fire extinguisher kit with at least a 3.5 litre capacity
e. Safety cutoff switch

You will want the following performance parts:
a. Uprated sports suspension kit
b. Race-spec brake pads

Note that no engine tuning or upgrades are permitted -
this is budget racing! Refer to the regulations for full details.

4. Strip out the interior
To remove fire hazards and a lot of weight, remove as much of the interior as possible. Refer to the series regulations for exact details, but in brief: You can remove:
a. Rear bench seat
b. Passenger seat
c. Drivers seat (you will replace this with your race seat)
d. Seat belts (you will replace these with your 6-point harness)
e. All carpeting
f. Rear side panels
g. Headlining
h. Speakers and audio equipment
i. Glovebox
j. Steering wheel and dashboard (required to fit roll cage)
k. Boot carpet and trim
l. Spare wheel

You may not remove:
a. Electric window motors (unless you replace with manual mechanism)
b. Glass
c. Road car switchgear

5. Fit the roll cage
This is where it gets tricky (for those DIY-ing). If you have a sunroof then the interior sunroof cage will need to be removed and some surgery required to the roof in order to get the rear cage in the car. There may also be some fettling required to fitting plates and brackets in order to get the cage to fit perfectly. Beyond the sunroof modifications, this is best left to a professional.

6. Fit your safety equipment
If you ordered your rollcage with a harness bar, this is the best place to attach your shoulder belts. Otherwise weld-in plates housing eyebolts on the rear bulkhead is another option. One of the lapbelts can use the original seatbelt mounting point but the other, as well as the crotch straps require a hole to be drilled so that an eyebolt can be screwed into a spreader plate below the car.

If your seat is base mounted and comes with a subframe then fitting is a simple spanner job. Side mounted seats may need further drilling of the bodyshell.

The fire extinguisher and safety cutoff switch should be fitted by a professional.

7. Fit your performance parts
Get the brakes and suspension race-ready. A Haynes manual may come in useful!
The driver information pack is also worth a read if you are starting out.

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