Yost Autosport #YAE92 M3: Part 1 – We Officially Void the Warranty
The BMW M3 has long been touted as one of the best production sports cars ever and I would have to agree. From the current generation’s 4.0L S65 V8 to the fine Bavarian leather upholstery, everything about the BMW M3 exudes perfection. This is why it made perfect sense to tear one completely apart. Enter Project #YAE92, and yes I do pronounce the hash tag. To make a long drawn-out story short, this project is the brainchild of two race car drivers; myself and a good friend of mine Jordan Yost. Both of us have had our ups and downs over the years trying to make it to the professional ranks of North American sports car racing, neither of us ever quite getting the opportunity we were after to go racing in the big name series like Grand-Am or ALMS. After another failed start-up race team Jordan and I worked on together for someone else, we decided it was time to throw a Hail Mary and start our own race team for once.
While we don’t have the budget to go racing in Grand-Am, or if you’re reading this in 2014 the United Sports Car Racing series, we wanted to build a car that we could grow with. To us, the E92 M3 was really the only choice. There are many platforms we could have chosen from but we both have fond memories of racing BMWs in the past and as a street car the E92 M3 is, in our opinion, a much better platform to start with than many of the other cars you see running well in Grand-Am. It’s proven, it’s fast, and it fits well in grassroots endurance racing as well as the pro levels. We will be building our car for 2014 to the rulebooks of both the N.A.S.A. Western Endurance Championship as well as NARRA Road Racing Enduro series. Classes in this series revolve primarily around power to weight ratio rather than a list of spec parts meaning we could do pretty much whatever we wanted with the build and we would still fit in a class based on what our car weighs and how much horsepower it’s making to the rear tires.
The nicely appointed power and heated leather seats were the first thing to go once we started gutting this pristine example of an E92 M3. You can see here this car was fully equipped with navigation and every other upgrade imaginable, all of which will not be re-used but will provide us with some things to sell in order to recoup some of the money we’ve spent.
But before we got into the fun go-fast stuff we needed to start out with the stuff that’s absolutely necessary to go racing…safety equipment. The first item on that list was a roll cage, but there’s a lot of planning and thought that goes into every aspect of building an endurance racing car so it wouldn’t be as simple as showing up with a car and a rulebook and telling your cage builder to get to work. We had to keep in mind budget, flexibility, weight, and safety. Thinking about budget we decided to prep the car for the roll cage ourselves instead of paying a fabricator to do it for us. We race car drivers are incredibly good at taking things apart and breaking stuff so that’s precisely what we started doing.
We started by removing all the interior we could down to the bare sheet metal , even going as far as un-plugging all of the electrical connections to the wiring harness and moving all of the wiring toward the front of the car so it would be out of the way. We didn’t just yank wires and computers out though, we are a tad smarter than that. We made sure we labeled everything so we could remember how to put it back together later. At this point it was time to order our first parts for the car and we did so through our friends at Fontana Nissan Parts. Why would we get parts for our BMW from a Nissan dealership’s parts department? Well they have excellent customer service and its run by a friend and fellow racer. The parts we ordered were the driver’s seat and mounting hardware as well as steering wheel and hub. We ordered these first so we could get our ideal seating position set before the cage was built so our cage builder could make sure everything fit properly with the cage in. With the interior void of anything bolted or clipped to it and the driver’s seat in place, the last step was to remove all of the factory glass to give the cage builder more room to work as well as remove the possibility of it getting broken during the process.
We made sure to gut the doors and cut away any excess metal we could in order to give the cage builder room to build out the driver’s side door bar into the void. This is not only a safety benefit but it also makes it easier to get in and out quickly during a driver change. We left a little lip on the door so we didn’t lose too much rigidity and smoothed it down so it wouldn’t cut anyone or snag our driving suits as we’re rushing through the driver changes.