European Auto Source
2011 BMW M3
Location: Anaheim, CA
european auto source is well known in the BMW world, having created some of the meanest looking Ms and developed a number of its own products. For the second time, they brought their '11 M3 to the grid but recent changes made an enormous difference...
This year, the M3 sported AST 4200 coilovers and Swift springs. While the rear wing sure isn't for the shy, it certainly kept the rear-end in check at high speed and through the corners. Recaro Pole Position seats and a VS Motorsports cage completed the interior, buttoned up with their own Macht Schnell hardware.
The european auto source M3 showed good reliability lap after lap, although even with its giant APR wing, the E92 was still one of the more tail-happy cars in the field. Thankfully, driver Jordan Yost is a race instructor and appeared well equipped to deal with any situation. Perhaps next year they'll move up to the Time Attack class.
2008 Porsche 911 Turbo / 2011 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG
Location: Lake Forest, CA
GSR Autosport from Lake Forest, CA is home to a number of amazing projects, unrivaled craftsmanship and fabrication, along with friendly, approachable staff. Mike Essa is at the heart of the operation, coming from a career of racing, with a growing presence in the Formula D championship and a member of the BMW tuning scene.
GSR does everything from V10 swaps in M3s to bolt-on installs and race preparation. However, instead of competing in the GP with one of their wild track-purposed beasts, they showed up with two high-dollar cars making generous amounts of power.
Admittedly, we feared a lightly modified 911 Turbo had the potential to dominate the field, especially with Essa behind the wheel. There's no escaping it, 911 Turbos are monsters, and this one has Moton Clubsport coilovers (cha-ching!) and a ton of other suspension and engine goodies. With some weight reduction, the results would have been far more interesting.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, GSR also brought a Mercedes CLS63 AMG. It's a burnout machine but these aren't always the best choice for a track event. If our dyno competition been based on torque figures, however, things would've worked out differently, because the CLS made a whopping 816 lb-ft, thanks to two turbos and 6.3-liters of displacement. Overall, both cars were solid additions to the lineup and performed without a hiccup, because that's what you expect from GSR Autosport.
2009 BMW 335i / 1995 BMW M3
Location: El Monte, CA
LTMotorwerks, formerly LTBMW, has made an incredible name for itself in the SoCal BMW community in the last few years, which is pretty remarkable for a shop that started in the owner's home garage. It's become a one-stop-shop with everything from full body conversions, custom spoilers, paint and repairs from their in-house body shop and paint booth, to motor swaps, turbo installations, suspension swaps, etc.
In this year's GP, LTMW showed up with two different animals. The '95 E36 M3 belongs to co-owner Ivan Madrigal and is a track toy: a really awesome toy with rock-chipped paint, a piercing exhaust note and wide wheels making it look the part. It walks the walk, too, making 420whp and weighing very little.
At the other end of the spectrum was the E90 335i belonging to Darren Yoo. The car started life as a regular automatic daily driver, but now the only original thing left is (unfortunately) the transmission. Otherwise, LT fitted M3 body parts and painted it Porsche GT3 RS grey, and fitted HREs. The stock turbos were upgraded and then swapped for a Vishnu/FFTec single-turbo kit with custom LTMotorwerks center-exit exhaust system. This combination gave tons of power: in fact, it had more than any other car in the event. Next up should be a six-speed conversion...
1995 BMW M3
Location: San Marcos, CA
Finally, we had an oddball that went by the name of EV West. The company is in the business of converting gas-powered cars to high performance electric vehicles. To do this, it even manufactures proprietary parts for people who want to do their own conversions.
What vehicle did they choose to build for themselves? An E36 M3, of course. And this example makes a mind-bending 840 lb-ft of torque almost instantly. It's a monster. They even made it to the top of Pikes Peak this year and hold the record for the fastest gas-converted vehicle up the mountain. They're now building an electric off-road racer to compete in the Baja 1000.
While torque is nice, so is horsepower, and the M3 made 382hp, but the problem is the car tips the scales at 3800 lb with its battery packs.
Another disadvantage is that the relatively narrow E36 body meant the team was only able to fit 275-section tires under the rear. With so much torque, it certainly needed more rubber. Even so, it can hit 60mph in under 4sec and has a direct drive, two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission without a torque converter. Welcome to the future!