Breaking Records with the Solo Motorsports 624HP Time Attack BMW 135i
Solo Motorsports brothers, Harold and Tony Marulanda, have been in the automotive scene in Atlanta since the mid-'90s, and have always been car freaks. They learned the trade from their dad and uncle, who used to own German and muscle cars. Like many performance shops, this one also has humble beginnings. It all started in Tony and Harold’s garage at home in the Atlanta area. Through a set of random circumstances (aren’t they all), Tony and Harold were introduced to now-partner Boris Jovanovic. At the time, Boris’ car had some less than quality work done by another area shop, and Boris was looking to right the wrongs.
The relationship grew more business-like, and Tony and Harold ended up doing so much work out of their Dunwoody garage that someone called the city to complain. The line of cars in the driveway was a little more than the neighbors could bear. At this point, the trio knew they needed to make a change. Boris had experience running front-office operations for a trucking business that he was involved in, and Tony and Harold had the time on the wrenches. They thought it was worth a gamble, and so they went all in, seting up a small shop in Lawrenceville, GA in 2003.
Boris, Tony and Harold would continue to work day jobs, while trying to run the evolving and growing shop during the evenings and weekends. 7PM-4AM thrashes at the Lawrenceville location were not unheard of. Over the course of a few years, they managed to put a decent book of business together, and realized that they could continue to grow.
They moved onto Pleasantdale Rd. in Norcross, to a location where they had a single bay of an automotive complex. The location was less than ideal, and the shop was not really on a main road, but it offered room for growth. While Solo has demonstrated that they can do the performance work, maintenance had been and continues to be their bread and butter. It’s hard to run a maintenance shop that’s hidden.
The one bay outfit eventually grew to two bays, then three. Their hard work seemed to be paying off, and the first three years of taking no salary and working two jobs looked like it was worth it. Finally, they tried to get the landlord to lease them the entire block of bays, but the landlord had no place else to go and politely refused. With a need for more space and to continue growing, Solo decided to make a move to yet another different location.
This new location, right off Jimmy Carter Boulevard in Norcross, gave them the very visible frontage that they wanted, while offering a large number of double-deep bays to do the work in. In fact, things have continued to go well enough that Solo has opened a second location in John’s Creek, GA. This new new location in John’s Creek has been open almost 1.5 years, and it handles maintenance work, while the JCB location is where the performance work gets done. The JCB location, too, does mostly maintenance, but you can usually find a car on the four-wheel Mustang dynamometer or getting some kind of performance upgrade. Solo continues to focus on German automobiles, with the majority of the things sitting in the lot being BMW, Audi, and the occasional Mercedes.
So how did their E82-chassis 135i come into the picture? Solo Motorsports had tried to enter into an arrangement with a turbocharger company to produce upgraded components for the N54’s twin-turbo plumbing. Solo purchased the car, but the arrangement didn’t work out, and they were left holding the bag of German bits. What to do? Enter Tony Fuentes.
Tony Fuentes is the wheelman (or one of them) at Solo Motorsports, in addition to being a general and alignment tech at the shop. He has a long history of winning things. Born in Anaheim, CA and originally from Cypress, Tony F. came to Atlanta looking for a change of scenery. He also brought a network and potential sponsors into the picture when he came to town. The ATL car scene may not be Los Angeles’, but it is still a thriving community serving all different niches. It’s also small, in the grand scheme of things, so one connection lead to another and soon Tony F. and the guys at Solo Motorsports got to know one another.
While maintenance is how the shop earns its keep, reputations are built and solidified on the track. Solo has had a number of race cars throughout the years, and with Fuentes' driving prowess, Solo’s technical capabilities, and a willing chassis in the 135i, the four gentlemen decided to give it a go, with time trials as the target venue. And, give it a go they have, with numerous track records and even more wins in the Global Time Attack series.