Seattle International Raceway
Kent, Washington, USA
October 5 and 6, 2002
I haven't been having much fun with the 924S, and it's been causing me a lot of problems. One of the other instructors at ProFormance was selling his BMW 325is, and I knew the car had been successfully raced for many years. Mike Lord, the owner, had told me about the car back in the spring. His asking price wasn't bad, but it was far higher than I felt certain about paying.
The 924 hadn't been such a great experience. I learned quite a bit, but the problem was that I couldn't be competitive in the car. I was more than five seconds a lap too slow. The previous race reports reflect some of my frustrations, so I won't enumerate them here.
Mike, unfortunately, spun the car at a race in May. When he spun, another driver missed the yellow flag and hit the car head-on, crunching the front-end really good. He'd finally decided to repair the car and get it race ready again, and was going to sell it.
I couldn't turn down the opportunity to rent the car. If I didn't like what happened, I could just walk away. If I wanted to buy the car, Mike would take some of my rental fee out of the asking price and help me get started with the car.
Mike worked hard to get the car ready in the two weeks prior to the race. When I met him at the test-and-tune day on Friday before the race weekend, things didn't look too good. Mike had found some moisture around a couple of the spark plugs. They could have just gotten wet, but he couldn't tell for sure if the moisture had come from inside the engine and up into the spark plugs.
I helped Mike find some new plugs, and he replaced all six. he took the car out for a few laps, and came in. Nothing seemed wrong with the car, and Mike was happy with it. We did some cleanup, and agreed that I would come back tomorrow and run the practice session in the morning.
For the race weekend, Mike had lined-up another renter, and we shared the car. That made the pit kind of busy, but it was a fun weekend. In the practice session, I was very tentative. My wife was worried that the car hadn't been properly repaired, and I was afraid that something would let go. If I drove at the limit, I was also afraid I might miss anything the car would be trying to tell me. And if I drove over the limit, I'd end up having no choice but to buy the car!
In each session, I got a little more comfortable. The car has short shift kit, and it took a bit for me to get used to that. The braking feel was a bit surprising, and that took a little bit of work, too. But I was very pleased with the results. Mike and Miki did a great job of supporting me in the pits and with answering all my questions and giving out advice.
I ended up setting a fast time in the race of 1:45.822, which was a couple tenths slower than my fastest qualifying time. I was very pleased; I knew that as I worked on the car, replaced the tires, and became more comfortable with it, I could easily find two or three seconds.
After a buyer's inspection, Mike and I agreed on some repairs and Mike delivered the car with all the spare parts he had. I felt full of potential, and couldn't wait to entertain serious thoughts o race wins and competitive driving ... but my next event wouldn't be until the 2003 season.
What a long winter!