Accessible Endurance Racing: Building A Race Car
If you are just now following us, or just got back to checking whether we failed or not, here is the latest on Team Nein Blinker. Here is the latest:
- We suck at building race cars so we put a keg in our car to help us drown out our failures. No really, we did.
- We learned a lot of painful and expensive lessons. We’ve blamestormed as many team members as possible. You can see whose fault it all is here.
- We paid a professional to have our cage done, and still managed to screw it up.
- We thought we’d be good at stripping the interior. Turns out we took forever with that too. It also took it several tries. You can read about it here and here.
- We had a high quality spotlight by a local youtuber.
- We had a chance to run the car at the SCCA AutoX and several Atlanta area race tracks, including Atlanta Motorsports Park and Talladega Gran Prix. What makes it completely shocking is both tracks will allow us back in.
Not sure what all this is about, read on first.
2020 Community Build: A Lemons Race Car
The ShiftAtlanta community is building a race car! And since 2020 is a lemon of a year, we’ve decided it should be a 24 Hours Of Lemons car. What’s best though is that you have the opportunity to get involved.
If you are not familiar with the race yet, go check out our post about the 24 Hours Of Lemons. It’s by far the most accessible way to get into endurance racing. It’s also a lighthearted approach to sportsman racing, mixing humor and entertainment with the serious business of racing. Which means it’s perfect for the ShiftAtlanta community.
Cars must be $500, with that total price including any mods not relating to safety. So its an endurance race for teams who can build the cheapest but yet the best crappy car. While the out of pocket cost of the actual race will be much higher considering safety gear, tires, gas and other consumables, we’re busting out the crayons and our best McGyver skills to keep it as cheap as possible.
This is fully competitive racing, side by side. Winners are judged based on the number of laps they complete in the allotted time over the weekend. The cars must pass a rigorous safety inspection and have full safety equipment including cage, seat, fire suppression system and more.
ShiftAtlanta is definitely a community for everyone. However, many of our members are into performance cars and presently that means lots of German and Japanese cars. Given as we are shooting for a $500 total price point and need it to be reliable (it is an endurance race after all) then we clearly should buy a Toyota or a Honda. Since this is competitive racing though and not a trip to the grocery store, we kept looking.
Another factor we considered heavily was the fact that on the current Shift team half of us own BMWs, and all of us own German cars of some kind. They also tend to be German cars in simple colors, though we do have one Nuclear Glow Orange M3 in the group.
So we knew we needed to do something different. Our choices are limited buying $500-ish second hand performance cars. But for the love of all things inclusive, we needed to be different.
What We Got
Yeah, so we bought a 5 speed 1998 White BMW 528i for just under $1000 dollars. I know, I just made you waste two paragraphs reading about how we wouldn’t be buying a bland BMW because they are unreliable and we needed something different. If we were good at this, we’d be running a real race team, not a team of $500 shitboxes. I’ll explain another time how buying a just under $1000 dollar is legal in a race with a $500 limit, but it is legal, even without our usual brand of cheating.
It runs great and was a total score. It leaks oil and was three quarts low when it showed up. The hood didn’t open that well, but the AC surprising blows super cold. Shame we won’t get to use that during the race. The oil in addition to being low was pretty thick and was nice and chunky around the oil filter. Hope that isn’t a bad sign, but it probably is.
It being a 5 speed was a must. Not only for being more competitive, but also to support some other initiatives we want to do with the car. 5 Speeds are a dying breed for drivers, and being old school car enthusiasts we wanted to keep that alive for a little longer. Still, we can’t wait for the autonomous driving racing league.
We’ll also need to take a look at the shifter though, you can move it nearly 3 inches towards each gear without pressing in the clutch. I have no doubt we’ll be doing a clutch job in this at some point as well.
So why a 5 series, not a 3 series? Why not a Honda CRX? We’ve already gotten a few of these questions, and I suspect we’ll get even more as a announce this. I mean, a 528 is heavy and there are a lot more reliable cars.
Simply put, we had $500 target to work with. Have you seen the cars you can get? The fact that we found a running 5 speed for $500 means our choices were limited. While I’m sure pulling the trigger on that Geo Storm would have been fun, I’ve already spun out in the middle of the freeway in one of those (yes, that’s a real story). It’s time to try a new experience.
Other Uses For The Car
You can expect to find our Lemons car out at major Atlanta area events to help spread the word. We also plan to make a few shake down runs at an AutoX event this fall. One thing we hope to illustrate with the car is that there are a number of accessible forms of racing you can join.
Currently our team is made up of 4 member drivers from the Shift community. How did we pick them? They were dumb enough to answer when I drunk dialed them one evening.
Paul – That’s me. Team Captain. I’ve been in cars for a long time, have owned several German cars and somehow still didn’t learn my lesson. I’ve also done numerous track days across almost all of the major Atlanta area road courses, been drag racing and have done a few seasons of SCCA racing. I’m a below average garage mechanic that generally has parts and bolts left over during even the most routine of jobs.
Dean – He’s our resident expert. He buys and sells cars for a living (amongst other businesses). He’s been a car enthusiast for 15+ years, which considering he can’t be but 17 is impressive. Still, I’ve never really seen him drive so I hope he actually has a license. But he said he could wrench and we were desperate so there he is.
Steve – I’ve known Steve for a long time. He’s not part of the Shift leadership or even officially a member, but he answered the call. Steve has done a lot of car builds over the years, none of which I think actually worked. He’s also done many track days and drag races over the years. Last I heard he had almost completed a lap.
Jonathan – We brought him on the team because he’s the only person I know shorter than me. This helped avoid the awkward conversation of why we need to spend time and money on an adjustment seat. I’m sure he can wrench and drive, but I really didn’t ask.
While we do have more experience than the average parking lot talking enthusiast, there are no professional racers here. I’m not sure beyond drag racing and AutoX anyone has even ever done a competitive track event before. And we’re gonna do an endurance race. If we can do it we’ll prove anyone can/t. If we can’t, well you have one more excuse to spend your weekend on the couch playing Forza or Gran Turismo instead of actually trying to do something with your life.
If there is one thing that comes to mind about BMW drivers is that they are known to be assholes who don’t use blinkers. So the theme pretty much wrote itself. The team name is “Nein Blinker”, or “No Blinker” in English. Yes, that translation was necessary because someone reading this really wouldn’t figure that out for themselves. They’ll probably be team captain soon.
We are taking the making fun all of things German cars concept, mixing in making a little fun of German culture and some honest love of German beer. We can’t wait to show you what we have in store.
Interested In Helping/Joining?
We will be announcing opportunities to help and/or join the team. There will be conditions. While this is a community project, this is serious business that is costing us and the team members real money.
However, for those who have ever wanted to get involved in Lemons, competitive racing, race car building or just lack friends or social life we will have a number of ways to get involved. And it doesn’t just have to be helping to wrench or drive. It can be helping find or even donating parts, buying parts we are selling and more.
Stay tuned to the ShiftAtlanta site and social media pages for details.
Win a Lemon’s Trophy!
Seriously though, how did you make this far in the article and think that was going to happen. We just want to show up, have a car that runs well enough everyone gets a turn and if we’re lucky, not finish dead last.
Alright, we are all pretty competitive so that isn’t true either. In reality we want to take this seriously. We want to see how we compete. And if your competitive there will be some opportunities for you as well.
We’re starting to acquire safety equipment. While I won’t bore everyone with the details, yet, but here is a high level look at the order we’ll be building our car in.
- Safety Equipment
- Brakes and Maintenance Items
- Upgrades (as budget allows)
We’ve already begun acquiring safety equipment and will be starting the stripping and install process of that in the next week. From there we’ll move on to the brakes and maintenance equipment.
Car and Team Updates
Stay tuned as we’ll have weekly updates on our progress, events, needs and how to get involved. We’ll be posting pictures, videos and stories throughout our social media channels.
The Lemons Race – An Overview
As a quick primer, the Atlanta area 24 Hours of Lemons is occurring this December at Road Atlanta. It will bring racers from all over the east coast and beyond. Many compete in the entire series of the 24 Hours of Lemons. It’s also a great opportunity to get LOADS of track time on Road Atlanta.
While the race is called the 24 Hours of Lemons, the Atlanta race will actually be 14.5 hours covering a Saturday and Sunday. Also, this isn’t just a lot of track time. This is fully competitive racing, side by side. Winners are judged based on the number of laps they complete in the allotted time. The cars must pass a rigorous safety inspection and have full safety equipment including cage, seat, fire suppression system and more.
And that’s pretty much where the seriousness ends. The racing and safety are serious, everything else isn’t. Teams are encouraged to take on wild themes. And yes, we plan to be a part of that.