In 2000, I purchased a 1987 Porsche 924S. The car had quite a history, and I was its fourth owner. It had a roll cage and a stripped interior, but was street legal. Even without a catalytic converter, but it still passed emissions!

The car had been painted at least once before, and wasn't exactly a pretty rig to look at. The seller wouldn't budge on price, probably because he could sense how desperate I was to start racing.

It didn't have an adjustable suspension, but the suspension parts were quite beefy: the little car had a front roll bar that was more than two inches around!

I had come to call the car my "ess-ster". It's not a Boxster, by any stretch of the imagination. I thought more of the guy on Saturday night Live who talked about "the Flynnster, makin' copies". The 924S-ster served me well, though it didn't take long for me to outgrow it.

Since I had spent so much time at lapping days in my expensive street cars, I was liberated when I first started driving the ess-ster. Suspension damage to one corner of my 911 would cost as much to repair as I had paid for this whole car!

When I started to drive the race car, I stopped driving with my wallet and started learning about the subtleties of handling a car at its limit. Instead of avoiding mistakes, I could flirt with the limit and learn how to recover from mistakes!

While the ess-ster provided me with quite an education, I quickly became frustrated with it. The car had a couple of mechanical failures that were quite expensive to repair; I rebuilt the top-end of the engine twice, each time spending almost as much as I had paid for the car when I bought it! Worse yet, parts were difficult to obtain and when we finally found them, they were quite expensive.

I sold the car locally, and I hope it has a happy home. While it isn't competitive, it's a great car for someone who doesn't want to risk damage to their daily driver (or their exotic sports car) while attending lapping days.

The dashboard is completely stock, though there's a couple of aftermarket gauges in the center. This car was stripped to race; there's lots of things that are torn out. That's a big difference compared to my current car, which was prepared to race.

Preparation involves stripping the car. But it also involves cleaning out everything left behind in the car to make it "down to paint" clean. The ess-ster had lots of glue residue, carpet and insulation fibers and plenty of electrical bits lying around. After race preparation, a car will get some new features; some sheet metal for a dead pedal and the floor pan in the driver's side, for example. And some features that make race day friendly.

The seats in the ess-ster were quite nice. I'm not a tiny guy, and the Corbeau seats in this rig were very accommodating. The side-bolsters were quite comfortable (since they weren't pointed to a sharp count our). Corbeau seats aren't that common, so parts might have been a problem sometimes, but I wouldn't mind racing a car with these buckets installed.

After some disappointing reface results (including finishing less than eighty percent of the races I entered!) I realized the ess-ster might not be a perfect match for me.

In October of 2002, I rented a 1993 BMW 325is for the last Conference race of the year, held at Pacific Raceways. I gingerly drove the car through the practice and qualifying sessions and was quite impressed. Earlier in the year, I had considered buying the car but it was wrecked in a race when the owner took it out for one last spin.

After spending the summer reconstructing and repairing it, the car was a back together. I didn't notice any problems while driving it, and so I made the owner an offer and the rest is history!

The new car features a completely stripped interior, a weld-in roll cage, and a Recaro seat on a custom bracket. There's also a fuel cell, which thrilled me completely because I'm terribly afraid of fire in the car. The engine needed a little work (which I had completed early in this season).

Between the 2003 and 2004 seasons, I performed a complete rebuild of the suspension in order to get the car to handle a little bit better. Before the work, it wasn't exactly a wallowing pig. The E36 BMW body is notorious for tearing some of the suspension mounting points, and I had those reinforced at the same time.

I removed the stock plastic center console from the car and had a replacement fabricated from sheet metal. The unsupported plastic was flexing substantially, and the hazard light switch sometimes twisted in its mounting hole. If you saw me at the races, I was often flying down the straightaway at full tilt ... with my four-ways blinking!

The BMW community in the Seattle area is very strong; I have lots of support just because I'm running a very popular car. Parts are easy to get, and are actually much cheaper than those for the Porsche 924S I was previously running. Competition parts are very easy to find for the BMW, and I'm thrilled to be driving it.