Wednesday, December 21, 2011
BMWCCA Club Racing
The BMW Car Club of America runs an excellent club racing program that includes specific classes for the MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S. This program offers competitive wheel-to-wheel racing with cars grouped generally by their performance capabilities so it can be a great way to experience real track racing.
To make it as easy as possible to get your feet wet, BMWCCA runs organized race driving schools all over the country. All you need to participate in one of the schools is a driver’s helmet and a safe street MINI (or other BMW).
In the Club Racing program, The BMWCCA has established Spec Classes for both MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S models. These classes allow MINI owners to race against other MINIs in an active racing schedule at race tracks in all regions of North America.
In the MINI Spec Classes, relatively few items must be, or in fact can be, changed from the car as it came from the showroom, so racing preparation can be done for much less than most owners spend to modify their cars for the street.
Safety preparations are mandatory. The car must be equipped with a bolt-in roll cage, five-point safety harness, headlamp covers and window net. Though gauges can be added, nothing in the interior can be removed, including the rear seat and carpeting. As a result, there’s no reason why a car can’t be used for street transportation and racing.
Drivers are also required to have full safety clothing to race, including a Snell-approved auto racing helmet, and fireproof racing suit, gloves, and shoes.
Tires, wheels, shocks, springs, rear sway bar, and rear adjustable control arms must be changed to race-grade products, and the brands, types, and sources for these modification components are specified in the rules.
The car can be mechanically upgraded to improve performance, but only with the addition or substitution of specific components. These allowed (but not required) modifications include drilled brake rotors, cold air intake, cat-back exhaust system, and power steering punp heat shield. Replacement of the stock front seats with racing seats is also permitted.
Owners are permitted to overhaul the engine, but boring and machining can only be done within specified tolerances. To insure that racing advantage comes from driving skills, rather than from the size of the owner’s check book, no other changes can be made to the car. The supercharger pulley can not be changed, nor can the ECU be remapped, and exhaust headers can not be replaced.
As a result of these strict limitations, it is quite possible to put a MINI on the track for BMW CCA Club Racing for less than $5,000 in modifications. For that you get all the fun, excitement, and Monday morning bragging rights of taking your car on the track for wheel-to-wheel competition. and you’ll still be able to drive it on a daily basis (with or without your competition numbers on the doors).
MINI Spec Classes for BMWCCA
Required and optional items and approximate costs
Required Safety Modifications
Bolt-in Rollcage $850
Driver’s Safety Harness $200
Headlight covers $50
Window net $60
Driver’s Safety Wear $800
Approximate cost of safety modifications $2000
Required Performance Modifications
Shocks and springs $875
Tires and wheels $1100
Rear control arms $500
Rear sway bar $250
Approximate cost of required performance modifications $2750
Total cost of required modifications $4750
Permitted Performance Modifications
Cold Air intake $200
Cat-back exhaust $700
Drilled Brake Rotors $450
Driver’s Race Seat $500
Hood pins $50
Power Steering pump heat shield $50
Approximate cost of permitted performance modifications $2000
If you find that you enjoy racing and want to devote more resources to the hobby, BMWCCA stock, prepared, and modified classes allow you to upgrade the performance of your MINI and compete in faster and more challenging classes as your driving skills improve.
If this sounds like it may be your cup of tea, the best way to find out is to enroll in one of the many excellent BMWCCA Club Racing drivers’ schools that are offered at tracks all over the United States and Canada. Completion of a BMWCCA racing school is the first prerequisite to racing with the BMW car club, so it’s where everyone starts.
Once you’ve completed the school you can decide if you want to invest the money to upgrade your MINI to the club’s standards for MINI spec racing or stock classes. More information on the BMWCCA club racing programs is at www.bwmccaclubracing.com.