It's been a couple of weeks since I last posted, but things have been happening and so it's time to do a little catching up on the news.
First a photo of the new ride is posted. The 2011 E92 M3 is a bit dirty in this photo, but that is to be expected after having just returned a few hours ago from Virginia International Raceway (VIR). This past Wednesday, I made a late decision to head south to Danville, VA to VIR and finally get some ON TRACK seat time in the car and compete in the NASA Time Trials. The weather was forecast to be ugly, but what the heck. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The drive down Friday afternoon was uneventful and quite nice. I arrived at VIR around 4:30 and got the necessary registration, transponder rental, and car technical inspections out of the way. From there I patiently awaited the arrival of a sales person (Ryan) from Bimmerworld, an on-line BMW after market parts distributer, who had a set of Performance Friction race brake pads for my car. I was not really looking forward to hauling down the M3 from high speeds on the stock, original equipment manufacturer (OEM), pads! Thus the call for track delivery of the more agressive race pads. The appointed arrival of said delivery boy came and went. It was well past beer-thirty, so it would be an early Saturday morning swap of the OEM to race brake pads. I would have plenty of time as the first time trial warm up was not scheduled until 10:20 am.
Fast forward to Saturday morning. I only had two beers with my enchiladas dinner and a ton of laughs with friends the night before (thanks....Jon, Neil, Barry, Kathyrn, Mary, Kyle, and Adam). Replacing brake pads and driving at high speeds require a good nights sleep and no hang-over. The good nights sleep helped the on track portion of the day as it turned out, but replacing the pads turned out to take a bit more concentration than originally contemplated.
Our new friend Ryan finally arrived at 8:15 and I was happily handed a set of front and rear pads. Off I hiked to our paddock space and the start of a nasty chore that I was not really looking forward to. I had no sooner started jacking up the car and I said....I friggin' hate doing this! It was cold and the car is worked on from the ground (a fine crushed stone...not pavement) versus a lift. Thankfully, it was not raining. Left side wheels off, caliper pins unbolted, retainer clips pulled, brake wear sensors removed, pads removed with some effort (I don't think the M3 engineers ever wanted them extracted!?), and finally new pads installed. Then put it all back together in reverse. Time taken to do one side - 45 minutes. Approximately 20 minutes longer than it should have!
Let's repeat the same exercise now on the right side of the car. Okay Einstein, lessons learned from the left side adventure are and should be applied to the right side. Seems like a good idea and as it turns out things are running more smoothly...apparently. I must add here that Jon and Robert have been assisting in an effort to make the work progress quickly as no one likes doing this. THANKS gents! The right side rears are done and Robert and I are finishing up the front. "Finishing up"....that's an under statement! After I try unsuccessfully to replace the caliper pins (essentially long bolts that connect the caliper to the brake assembly hugging the rotor) for 10 minutes, Robert makes a fateful attempt and after Robert, Jon steps in. None of us are successful. There is no shouting, but a fair amount of frustration and a few - "get out of the way...let me try again". There are several more rounds taken by each of us. At this point, I feel as though we are in a World Pro Wrestling cage match and I just got the tag to enter the ring with a 3,700 lb musled brute affectionally called Helga. I am not exactly sure of the total elapsed time, but my guess is we have been working the "issue" for 30 minutes. The issue is that the caliper pins will not align with their proper bolt holes and that is due to the caliper not "nesting" to the brake assembly caliper bracket.
At this point, Robert and I are the only idiots (sorry Robert....that idiot is singular - me) left trying to solve the puzzle problem. Jon had smartly moved on to more important things such as working on his own car. Scratching our collective heads - Why won't a square peg go in a round hole? We are so close!? Crap, the other side went back together with no effort!? Like most problems, one simply needs to sit back, take a deep breath, have a shot of Patron, and a long drag off a Marlboro to properly assess the situtaiton (or recount whatever activity you just finished). Certainly a solution will present itself if we just slow down and THINK. Well, it does. I start looking more closely at the brake pad configurations....specifically the brake pad "backer plates". I look at Robert and most confidently and proudly say as if to have just solved world peace - "there appears to be a front pad and rear pad to the front rotor assembly". The tabbed pad goes on the front of the rotor, but not the rear of the rotor. A truly eureka moment. Robert runs to the other side of the car and inspects the previously assembled front brake assembly. Sure as sh*t, there are two types of pads for the front brakes. What has to happen next? You got that right, we need to take apart the left side brakes again to get to the one pad we need and replace with the one pad we have in hand and won't fit on the right side. We complete that in about 10 minutes and are back to the right side where we wrap up the project in another 5 minutes. A new record for brake pad replacement on an E92 M3 - 1.5 hours. I kid you not, a project that should have taken no more than 20-30 minutes tops for all four wheels!
Glad we completed the brake swap though as the car ran great on the track which equals fast! The weather also held off with not a drop of the wet stuff all day which added to the go fast fun. I saw a 155 MPH on the back straight which is realistically more in the 148-150 range as BMW builds in some underspeed fluff. On the front straight I see 140 MPH which is the fastest I have personally ever traveled that piece of earth. The Performance Friction pads did their job perfectly and added confidence going in to the braking zones. Through the twisty parts of the track, the car handled superbly. What a brilliant piece of machinery and engineering. The V-8 sings and is only really happy at 6,000 RPM's and above. After each session I arrive back to my paddock space with a huge grin.
The One Lap is going to be fun!!!!! Enough said.