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From digest.v7.n351 Mon Sep 29 21:20:58 1997
Date: Mon, 29 Sep 1997 21:13:33 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: <All> Mid Ohio School, Neil's Front Suspension & More (Long)

Buckeye Chapter once again held their Drivers School at Mid Ohio this last weekend, and I was a student there. Here are some random notes/thoughts.

First, this Chapter (Elizabeth and Jeff Lutes, Lance White and many others) really know how to organize a school. Ran like clockwork, every session on time. Nice social evening and raffle on Saturday night. Thorough and constructive tech inspection. It doesn't hurt that Mid Ohio is spacious and has excellent facilities, but the Buckeye Chapter knows how to use them and do it well. Thanks guys!

It was a safe school. A few cars off on the grass, and one minor sheet metal scrape that I heard of but didn't see myself. Nothing serious.

Good assortment of cars. Lots of M3's of both varieties, most of the other BMW types old and new (from '02 to 740iL) and even an M1. Numbers of Porsches including a new Boxster. No less than 5 Acura NSX's, and did they ever look classy all parked in a row in front of the hotel! A Corvette ZR1 in my group.

I had memorable rides in Wayne Leuthold's E36 M3, Dan Unkefer's supercharged and modified MR2, Bob Stommel's E30, and in Jeff Harker's M3 CSL. What a rush! Thanks to all.

The camber mod I made to my front suspension seem to be working. Handling was fairly neutral with 35 psi all round, and the previous plowing tendency around the Keyhole and Carousel turns was eliminated (mind you I'm also driving them better than before). Of course there's still more wear at the outside edges of my A032R tires than the inside, but it's no longer major. Wish the end result had been a bit less extreme than 2 1/2 degrees negative camber though, so I'll be keeping an eye on street tire wear.

M3 FRONT SUSPENSION MODIFIERS READ THIS! When replacing the front struts, BMW specs replacing certain fasteners. They are: the 2 strut to steering knuckle lower retaining bolts; the locknut for the strut to steering knuckle upper bolt; the sway bar link locknuts; the 3 strut upper mounting nuts; the strut shaft large upper locknut.

One of the instructors detected something funny in his front suspension on one side and stopped to check. His front suspension had been worked on recently, and the strut to knuckle upper mounting nut and bolt were found to be loose. He tightened them, checked the rest, no harm done. Think of what might have happened.

The locknuts are not the kind with nylon inserts, instead the metal of the nut is slightly crimped on one end. They are not designed to be reused. The lower bolts have thread locking compound already on them. The parts I listed cost under $10 for both sides of the car combined, so don't skimp, OK?

Weather was perfect, mid-seventies and sunny during the day. Track dry and clean, good adhesion. I had driven Mid Ohio last year and remembered it better than I had expected. My objectives were to work on precision and consistency, plus better lines in the Carousel and Keyhole. Wayne Leuthold, my instructor (from Tire Rack) was helpful in getting where I wanted to be. Still can't always make myself go around that fast and hairy turn 1 at the speed I should though. Have to work on that next time.

My car hits the rev limiter in 4th at just under 120 mph before the end of the back straight, and in 3rd at a couple of other places. In neither case is there time to change up to a higher gear. JimC, where are you?? I need two or three hundred extra rpm for my OBD II afflicted 96 M3! Note that as Jeff Harker pointed out, BFG R1 users get about 4% higher gearing since they have to use 45 series tires instead of the standard 40 series of my Yokos. Hmmm...

It was really fun reeling in and passing faster cars like the ZR1 and NSX. On the other hand, I had to let that Avus Blue M3 with the double adjustable Konis go by me, and I just couldn't stay with him after that either. There was also a modified and well driven (Debbie Hughes I think) 318ti that wasn't at all easy for me to catch in the twisties. Most people in my run group were good at using their mirrors and letting others pass, only a couple of exceptions which I'll ascribe to the heat of the moment.

Saw several of Duane's RM3DR1 stickers on cars.

Renewed some old acquaintances, and made some new friends. Damn this was fun! Which is why I'm going back again next month.

96 M3

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