Stealth Gets a New Steering Wheel

New Steering Wheel

The weather gods finally took pity on us in Maryland and gave us a seasonably warm weekend. With about two months of work to catch up on, I tried to spend as much time outside as I could. I managed to install a new steering wheel in the Stealth BMW. Install is fairly straight-forward:

  • Disconnect battery
  • Gently pry out Roundel to get to the nut
  • Using your handy-dandy anti-theft wheel lock, for leverage, remove the nut and washer
  • Turn your key to position 1 to release the lock
  • Remove old steering wheel
  • Installation is the reverse of removal

In this instance, installation consisted of a BMW hub adapter, 15mm extension ring, and competition wheel. It is quite a bit smaller than the standard BMW wheel and fairly thick.

Winter Plans

Burried MINI

This is supposed to be that time of year when you watch the 24 Hours of Daytona, day-dream of the upcoming autocross season and start deciding the mods you want to make to your car. You take a close look at the rule changes and decide which of the go-fast bits you can get away with installing. This year has been no exception, only actually getting the parts on the car has turned into somewhat of a challenge.

Back in November I started down one of those “I’ll just touch up a bit of paint…” paths on the convertible. What started out as fixing a scratch and a nickel-sized rust spot, turned into repainting the rear quarter panel. Evidently the “scratch” was a crack in the paint. The paint cracked because the filler under it had separated from the metal due to a poor repair job. Many hours of sanding and a couple of tubes of filler later, I had the panel repaired and primed. Then I ran out of color-coat. The new shipment of paint arrived two days too late — it hasn’t been above 50 degrees since. I can only get the garage about 20 degrees above the ambient temperature outside so I haven’t been able to finish painting. Since I haven’t finished painting, I haven’t been able to get the other BMW in the garage to put the new parts on. Now I have snow drifts of up to 4 feet in front of the garage so I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance to get back in there.

Diff Cover

You’ll recall at the end of last season, my differential was toast. I have a replacement (which is currently on the front porch under a couple feet of snow) that’s ready to be installed. Since the standard E30 limited slip differential can really heat up under heavy track use, I’m going to modify it with a cover from a Z3. As you can see in the photo above, this cover has fins to help cooling.

Get Shorty

Next up is a new header. My old stock exhaust manifold is either cracked or cracking so it’s time to replace it. Though this mod isn’t legal for Spec E30, it is for the autocross class I’m running this year. Since full Spec E30 is still a couple of years (and an engine rebuild) away, might as well get as much power as I can out of the current lump. I like the shorty headers because you get the benefit of equal length primary tubes, plus the convenience of being able to still drop the exhaust ahead of the cat. Once I get all this in, then it’s time to turn to steering changes and the adjustable 19mm rear swaybar to complement the front bar I put in last year. For now, the Stealth has a set of Blizzak winter tires and is my primary means of getting around in the drifting snow.

Chapterfest and SCCA Event 6, 2009

GeorgeCo BMW

Chapterfest marked the end of the Summer for the GeorgeCo BMW Powered by Beano. The annual event sponsored by the National Capital Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America brings together the diverse sub-groups of 6,000+ member chapter into one event. It features a swapmeet, shine & show, good food, and of course autocross.


There were some beautiful old cars in the show as well as quite a bit of questionable carbon fiber bits on newer cars. And this:


Not exactly my thing, but to each his own I suppose. I think that audio system costs more than my car. And it probably has more power too… There were some interesting non-BMWs too. I always like to find dubious aero bits:

dive dive dive

No video from the autocross. Another autocross season down, another dead video camera I’m afraid. I’m going to have to invest in a solid-state recorder of some sort. The course was more challenging than it appeared during the course walk. The course designers decided to use the lower lot at Baysox Stadium this time. To get there and back, the course has to pass through a couple of islands in the parking lot. That risk means designing very slow sections before the entry to the pass through. This caught out a lot of people, but since going fast by going slow is what the GeorgeCo BMW Powered by Beano does best, it was no problem for us. Rain spoiled the times for the fourth heat runners, but running in the second heat, we managed to take first in class, solidifying our position going into the season finale next month.

Sunday brought the sixth championship event for the Washington DC Region of the SCCA at FEDEX Field. In this series, we’re running the GeorgeCo Gas-X MINI in the Street Mod class.

The only car on street tires as well as the only true daily-driver in the mod-till-you-drop Street Mod Class, the GeorgeCo Gas-X MINI has a significant disadvantage to the stripped-out, higher horse power cars in the class running on competition tires. That is, until it rains. We almost achieved greatness yesterday. Almost. It rained heavily during the fifth heat. At the start of the sixth and final heat, the course was very damp and slick. At the start of the second of four runs, the GeorgeCo Gas-X MINI was in the lead. Unfortunately, the sun was still shining and the course was drying and we saw our advantage slip away. Nonetheless, the car ran well and the course was challenging. Perhaps just as interesting were some of the other cars that were at the event.

FFR Daytona Coupe


Bad Company


Colonial Challenge Cup, Summit Point, 9.9.09

Ford GT Pass

9/9/09 was a lucky day. I got to take the day off of work and spend it as an instructor at the Colonial Challenge Cup (CCC). The CCC is an annual charity event at Summit Point that benefits the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Boys & Girls Clubs. It includes track lapping, driver education, go-carting and charity rides. It’s a very low-key event with lots of track time if you want it. Instructors had two sessions to ourselves and could go out in any student session we wanted as well. I managed to instruct 5 sessions in an E36 M3 and run 5 sessions myself.

Trio Ford GTs

This wasn’t your usual BMW club HPDE. From the organizational structure (not) to the rules on the track (lax) to the overall schedule (relaxed), it was a good chance to get back to the main circuit and test out the changes to the car. There were some very good drivers in some very expensive cars and some rather scary drivers in some scary fast cars. Click here for some laps of the main circuit.

It was a good exercise in space management and situational awareness. That came in the form of both a Daytona Coupe spinning in front of me in Turn 1, as well as a Ford GT passing me on the front straight at 140+ MPH after the checkered flag. It’s not every event where I get to park near an Aston Martin Vantage.


The GeorgeCo BMW, powered by Beano, is really handling well. On Tuesday I added thicker front swaybar. The bar is only 10% thicker than the stock bar, but that difference virtually eliminated body-roll and still maintained neutral handling.

sway bar

The non-adjustable bar from IE meets Spec E30 requirements, and included new reinforced mounting brackets and adjustable end links.

NCC BMW CCA Autocross Event 6, 8.30.09

Saturday was a good day for GeorgeCo Racing. The GeorgeCo BMW sponsored by Beano ran well all day. GeorgeCo narrowly missed the win in class by .06 seconds. On a typical autocross course, that’s less than 3 feet. But more importantly, we edged-out our chief rival (and friend) Greg who (was also driving the GeorgeCo BMW) to stay competitive for the season class title. With two events to go, it’s going to be close.