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View Full Version : Necessary mods for the track?


hadaS4
Thu, Aug-14-2003, 07:05:45 PM
Just replaced my S4 with an M3 and intend to continue my trips to the track (Thunderhill and Laguna mostly). My S4 was heavily modified (Stoptech brakes, H&R suspension, chip, Hoosiers, etc...) and I am wondreing what I need to do at a minimum to protect the M3:???:
I was thinkng at a minimum switching to stainless steel brake lines, better brake fluid and brake pads. Will get a second set of wheels before too long but don't want to spend the $$$ just yet as I just had a kid.
I drive pretty hard and I am only really concerned about the brakes. Realizing the M3 is more capable than the B5 S4 is there anything I should be concerned about?
Thanks...

CenCoastM3
Sat, Aug-16-2003, 09:47:25 AM
The M3 is a great track car and it only needs a few modifications to make it a reliable track car. The bottom line, however, it is that your money will be best spent getting track time and driving lessons, but a few minor modifications are in order.
1. Open up your brake ducts. Reach into the ducts and punch out the plastic squares.
2. Replace your brake fluid with high temp brake fluid.
3. Replace your brake pads with track specific pads.
SS brake lines are not necessary to protect the car. They will improve your brake feel, but the car already has very good brake feel.
The M3 will understeer on when pushed hard on the track much like your B5 S4 before your mod's.
There will be a high performance driving school at Laguna Seca in December. The BMW CCA web site has the details.

roninpb
Sat, Aug-16-2003, 08:00:22 PM
Originally posted by CenCoastM3
The M3 is a great track car and it only needs a few modifications to make it a reliable track car. The bottom line, however, it is that your money will be best spent getting track time and driving lessons, but a few minor modifications are in order.
1. Open up your brake ducts. Reach into the ducts and punch out the plastic squares.
2. Replace your brake fluid with high temp brake fluid.
3. Replace your brake pads with track specific pads.
SS brake lines are not necessary to protect the car. They will improve your brake feel, but the car already has very good brake feel.
The M3 will understeer on when pushed hard on the track much like your B5 S4 before your mod's.
There will be a high performance driving school at Laguna Seca in December. The BMW CCA web site has the details.

I take exception to the use of the word "needs." The M3 8needs* no modifications to "make it a reliable track car."

You're advice in re lessons is the *best* advice!

We don't know enough about hadaS4's needs anyway. Ies; How much experience he has. Does he plan to race?

But the above mentioned mods are a good start. With a few of exceptions:

A) Track pads are terrible on the street. Noisy. Take too long to stop. Etc.

B) Track pads will (eventually) ruin your rotors and BMW will *not* replace them under warranty.

C) If you have problems w/your brakes BMW will refuse to even examine your car. So forget about warranty protection.

My advice to hadaS4: Learn to drive your M3 in OEM configuration. Take advantage of BMW's warranty .... as parts fail or wear out (ie; brake pads) have your local dealer replace them on BMW's ticket. But be sure not to race the car. ie; Enter it in timed, compettive events or you can kiss your warranty goodbye.

Hope this helps.

Peace,

Ronin.

Avenger
Sat, Aug-16-2003, 10:20:48 PM
Ok, Ronin is simply wrong. The M3 is a great street car, but on the track in its stock setup it pushes like a pig and you'll warp your rotors before the end of the day if you go to a braking intensive circuit. The following are the things I would recommend to set your car up for the track:

1.) Get a suspension Alignment! Add some negative camber and change the toe on the back to get rid of some of that nasty understeer.

2. Take out the brake duct covers.

3. Buy a set of pagid brake pads.

4. If the track is breaking intensive you should just order European Cross Drilled rotors now because your OEM ones will be warped.

Things you don't need to do:

1. You don't need stainless steel brake lines.

2. You don't need to change the brake fluid in your car, it is good enough already.

3. Don't leave the stock brake pads in. When you warp your rotors BMW won't replace them even if the stock brake pads are in because they're POS' who can't even compare to Porsche in terms of service, even with their best track car.

Be safe and have fun man, the car is awesome!

roninpb
Sun, Aug-17-2003, 02:14:46 AM
Originally posted by Avenger
Ok, Ronin is simply wrong. The M3 is a great street car, but on the track in its stock setup it pushes like a pig and you'll warp your rotors before the end of the day if you go to a braking intensive circuit. The following are the things I would recommend to set your car up for the track:

1.) Get a suspension Alignment! Add some negative camber and change the toe on the back to get rid of some of that nasty understeer.

2. Take out the brake duct covers.

3. Buy a set of pagid brake pads.

4. If the track is breaking intensive you should just order European Cross Drilled rotors now because your OEM ones will be warped.

Things you don't need to do:

1. You don't need stainless steel brake lines.

2. You don't need to change the brake fluid in your car, it is good enough already.

3. Don't leave the stock brake pads in. When you warp your rotors BMW won't replace them even if the stock brake pads are in because they're POS' who can't even compare to Porsche in terms of service, even with their best track car.

Be safe and have fun man, the car is awesome!


Avenger; it wouldn't be the first time I was wrong. I come here to learn and socialize. But learning is first and foremost. I'm always grateful for corrections, etc.

WTS, some references to establish creds and general FYI:

I have been to a few DEs, all @PIR: BMW ACA (http://www.bmwacaportland.com/drive/2003_05_30.html); twice. ProFormance Racing (http://www.proformanceraceschool.com/) ; once. ProDrive HP (http://prodrive.net/); once. Team Continental; (http://www.teamcontinental.com/); once.

If you like I can give you more contact info. Including instructor names, etc.

Furthermore I have taken one Skid car course w/Chris and three w/Todd (including advnced courses). I have a deal w/ProDrive where I get private instruction on Skid cars w/Todd prior to every DE. On the 17th I leave for PIR and two more DEs (ProDrive and BMW ACA again) as well as more Skid cars.

I am dead serious about learning how to drive well! I question everyone I can. I isten carefuly and take notes. I analyze (todd says i analyze too much <chcukle>) and think and try out what I learn. I'm no longer the slowest guy out there .... far from it.

Additionally my tuners, Matrix Engineering (http://www.matrixengineering.cc/about_1.php) and I have been steadfastly researching braking and we've amassed a great deal of info from MFGS and other credible sources. Ie; GSP (http://www.gsperformance.com/info/info.htm).

I'm not trying to impress anyone .... herein, or on the track. Just explaining that I do know what works and what doesn't .... to an extent. And that my advice (such as it is) is well thought out. Not necessarily right .... or wrong. There's more than one way to skin a cat.

Surprising or not

1) Alignment is not necessary unless one makes camber, toe, etc, changes. And since camber/toe changes are not needed .... alignment is not needed.

2) Taking out the brake duct covers has not been proven to help cool the brakes appreciably. But the only downside is a little more dirt, etc, and they're easy enough to put back on during inclement weather. So, ok.

3) Pagid makes a variety of brake pads. As do other pad MFGs. You did not specify which. Track pads are verbotten. I explained why earlier.

4) Euro rotors will not prevent warping. Warping is uncommon. What most people think is a warped rotor is often a scored rotor and/or a buildup of pad material on the rotor (buildup is very common). Euro rotors will not improve cooling to an appreciable extent. They will help dissipate pad generated gas. That's good. The downside is (besides wasting money, IMHO) lessened cooling due to less mass.

1a) True. SS Lines are not needed unless one wants max performance. Ironically, enuff you offer advice that is useful primarily to someone seeking max performance.

2a) The brake fluid need not be changed .... unless one is interested in max performance and therefore switches to Euro rotors and Pagid pads.

Perhaps I misuderstood you Avenger. We may simply have a different idea of what the poster needs. But I do see what appear to be contradictions. <shrug>

I'm an animal on the brakes (presently; Hawk HPS, Goodridge S lines and Motul 600 fluid). At my last DE w/Team Continental I was meatballed twice! .... for shooting flames out of both front brakes. It seems that I am *burning* up the Hawk HPS pads. Trust me .... I'm no expert and Avenger you may be one .... but i do know how to brake!!!

As for suspension mods: A set of wheels can solve all understeer probs. Ie; Dinans. Spending hard earned bux on Camber palaes and so on is a waste of moolah if one doesn't have tuners (or the knowledge) to set up the car. Ie; Proper measuring tools and the like are useless if one doesn't know how to apply the setting for the application.

Every responsible tuner/racer/RKI will tell you what they've told me: "There's only one *right* setting for any given application." The more adjustments in your set-up the more likely you'll get it wrong.

BMW warranty and service. Yes, it sux hind titty. And I'm going thru that crud right now .... I assure you .... if you warp your rotors during normal use (ie; DEs are ok, but racing is verbotten) BMW NA will replace them.

Stick to OEM!!! Unless you're like me and you're willing to suffer the consequences of doing otherwise.

BTW Avenger, you talk a good game but i find your creds suspect (no offense, i'm an inquisitive person, right?).

Why? I can't imagine any experinced racer or avid DE student using the expression "If the track is breaking intensive ..." Let alone saying it .... *twice.*

Avenger, go for a ride w/me or one of my instructors (preferably the latter, if you think I brake late and hard you've go another think coming) and I'll show you that ALL tracks are breaking intensive.

As you might have guessed, I'm using stock rotors and except for mild scoring they're just fine. Not warped at all. Even after heating them up so much that Turn Four workers said they'd glow red .... just before flames shot out the sides.

Nuff said?

Peace,

Ronin.

raffaelli
Sun, Aug-17-2003, 02:22:36 AM
Your car *does not* need a thing.

I have had mine on the track this summer for about 7 hours of ball to the walls hard driving. I have run 3 complete sets of S03's off the car.

My pads are just fine. The fluid is just fine.

Run your car on the track. Let your car tell you what it needs. The only thing your car needs is someone to push the throttle.

roninpb
Sun, Aug-17-2003, 02:53:21 AM
Originally posted by raffaelli
Your car *does not* need a thing.

I have had mine on the track this summer for about 7 hours of ball to the walls hard driving. I have run 3 complete sets of S03's off the car.

My pads are just fine. The fluid is just fine.

Run your car on the track. Let your car tell you what it needs. The only thing your car needs is someone to push the throttle.

Werd!

Of course if hadaS4 is a hard core racer .... he could *use* some mods.

Peace,

Ronin.

flyer
Sun, Aug-17-2003, 06:41:44 PM
better Sway bars! UUC swaybarbarian!? It will keep you more linear in the turns.
As for other things, track and find out yourself what you feel you need to modify.
The brakes are very good, no need to change them.
If you want to lighten the car, then get a new aftermarket exhaust and mid pipes, you will loose about 30-50lbs depending on what kind you get, i.e. titanium. Although, this will cost you and if you don't want to spend the money right now then forget this mod.
You can spend lots of money to set it up and make it better, but I think on it's own it is pretty good on the track already, except for sways, GET THEM.

CenCoastM3
Sun, Aug-17-2003, 06:47:11 PM
Ronin makes a very good point. The M3 is such a capable car that you will see the greatest improvements in your lap times by getting good seat time on the track and improving your driving technique. High temp brake fluid and track specific brake pads help prevent brake fade, but if this not an issue then save your money and enjoy your car. :D I've got a new baby and there is nothing better than being able to get out of the house early on Sunday morning and driving my M3 through the hills around Monterey County.

hadaS4
Tue, Aug-19-2003, 05:53:39 AM
Thanks for the advice guys.

Looking forward to the next event...

Avenger
Tue, Aug-19-2003, 05:14:16 PM
Have fun HadaS4, it will be a blast. However, I still would definitely recommend the changes that I mentioned before (alignment/rotors/race pads.)

The reason for the alignment is simple; Our car understeers heavily in stock guise because that's the way bmw built it to avoid lawsuits. Also, adding some negative camber will allow you to roll on to more of your tires contact patch during turns, thereby increasing the speed at which you can go through turns.

The reason I recommend the change of rotors is because the stock ones do not allow anywhere for the gasses to escape, which is the reason our rotors warp. Maybe I've had a different experience than roninpb because I go to Brainerd International Raceway and it's a braking intensive circuit, but the three other E46 M3 owners I've talked to that have gone their have all warped their oem rotors! Also, BMW NA will NOT replace your warped rotors even if you use their pads during a DE because it constitutes abuse or some such nonsense. I know because I warped my rotors at a DE and when I went in they said they never replace warped rotors.

I would also definitely recommend race pads because with the stock pads the fade is incredible. After 5 laps with the oem pads in you'll go into a turn and have no stopping power left, which is a problem where I track my car because I need to go from 140 to 65 in a hurry. Also, I tracked my car for about 30 minutes on track, 20 minutes off, for 7 hours and can assure you that even with race pads you won't burn your brake fluid. What Roninpb said is true, the pads are noisy on the street, but that's why you only use these pads on the track and then change to the stock ones before or right after you get home.

Roninpb, I understand that you might have taken what I said about you being wrong a little offensively and I appologize. However, my credentials are not suspect. Although I'm only 18 I've been around cars for a long time; my father has done more miles on a track that I have on the streets. He was a professional driver (in the Firehawk Firestone Series- now the Grand Am series) and raced Porsche's for the Kelly Moss team, which was "unofficially" supported by the Porsche factory. After that he was the head instructor for the Porsche club, so I assure you that I don't need a ride with your instructor Roninpb. So yea, maybe you could argue that I don't know the most about racing/cars, but seeing as this was my father's opinion as well as the opinion of the most respected shop in town for high performance sports/race cars (Auto Edge in Minneapolis) about how to set up the car, I can assure you that all of what I have said is correct.

Cheers guys!

roninpb
Mon, Aug-25-2003, 02:33:07 AM
Originally posted by Avenger
<snip> 1* The reason I recommend the change of rotors is because the stock ones do not allow anywhere for the gasses to escape,

2* which is the reason our rotors warp.

3* Maybe I've had a different experience than roninpb because I go to Brainerd International Raceway and it's a braking intensive circuit,

4* but the three other E46 M3 owners I've talked to that have gone their have all warped their oem rotors!

5* Also, BMW NA will NOT replace your warped rotors even if you use their pads during a DE because it constitutes abuse or some such nonsense. I know because I warped my rotors at a DE and when I went in they said they never replace warped rotors.

6* I would also definitely recommend race pads because with the stock pads the fade is incredible. <snip>

7* Roninpb, I understand that you might have taken what I said about you being wrong a little offensively and I appologize. However, my credentials are not suspect. Although I'm only 18 I've been around cars for a long time; my father has done more miles on a track that I have on the streets. He was a professional driver (in the Firehawk Firestone Series- now the Grand Am series) and raced Porsche's for the Kelly Moss team, which was "unofficially" supported by the Porsche factory. After that he was the head instructor for the Porsche club, so I assure you that I don't need a ride with your instructor Roninpb. So yea, maybe you could argue that I don't know the most about racing/cars, but seeing as this was my father's opinion as well as the opinion of the most respected shop in town for high performance sports/race cars (Auto Edge in Minneapolis) about how to set up the car, I can assure you that all of what I have said is correct.

Cheers guys!

*1, I disagree. Unless you meant that the stock rotors do not allow the gases to escape as quickly as drilled.

*2, Gas evacuation has little to do w/rotors warping. It does contribute somewhat to heat build-up. But marginally so. Drilled rotors look good and can offer some weight savings. But unless you're a capable racer (sp endurance events) drilled is a waste of moolah better spent elsewhere. BTW; Slotted rotors are more efficient for both purposes (gas and heat).

*3, Gosh, I hate to sound argumentative but I feel that I must repeat: All tracks are braking intensive. Some, like Brainerd, are worse than others. ;-)

*4, Sorry to hear it. WTS; I do not know of any documented cases of warped stock rotors that would have been prevented by installing Euro drilled rotors.

*5, Again sorry to hear it. Four Oregon dealers (i can provide ocntact info as needed) have told me they would replace my rotors if I warped them during DEs. Dealers vary. But BMW's position, as explained to me over the phone by a BMW NA customer service rep (name and notes available, i just have to dig for them), is that DEs do not constitute abuse. Entering "timed, competitive events" (ie; racing) does constitute "abuse."

*6, I had to use stock brake pads at my two DEs recently. After two laps at PIR they were fading noticeably. I babied them, braked earlier and for a longer period, and they did just fine. Nobody in my class outbraked me. Not even the faster guys. And I had plenty of brakes left at the end of the second (last) day. YMMV, but race pads are not *needed* either.

Not only are race pads noisy .... they can also be very dangerous on the street. They are *not* designed to be used at normal (streeet oriented) operating temperatures and will increase stopping distance vs stock pads. Caveat Emptor!

*7, No apologies necessary. But thx for showing true class!

I don't recall saying that your creds were "suspect." Did I? If so then it's out of character and I most certainly apologize. In fact, I strongly believe that you know more about cars and racing cars, in general, than I know. And you've probably participated in more DEs also. Heck, I'm a bleedin (not really bleeding <chuckle) Novice. Just got bumped up to Intermediate a short while ago .... I think prematurely. <shrug>

We may be looking at the issues from two different POVs. Ie; If I were recommending mods to someone interested in racing and/or max performance .... we would agree more than disagree. I do take exception to your advice in re drilled rotors (euro or otherwise).

I have written, more than once, that I don't know enuff about hadas4 so I'm making general recommendations for him and others.

As for disagreements: We learn a heck of a lot more by discussing our differences than by saying "Werd!" to each other all the time. ;-)

Peace,

Ronin.