Tire Rack Street Survival School: Saturday, May 11 2013 – one of my most rewarding instructing sessions ever!

Images courtesy of rollingstockphoto

Why was this day so great? What made the difference? I chalk it up to a great student and my own commitment to improving my skills as an instructor. My first time instructing in an SUV was eye opening. I discovered that a Denali handles like a large boat. (I’ll reserve “battleship” status for a school bus.)

What Makes a Great Student?

Every Street Survival student is different in their experience, demeanor and eagerness to learn. Willingness to communicate is a big bonus. On this occasion, my student, Natalie, had all that going for her, plus a dad who obviously cares. She only had her permit, but her father had already taught Natalie a few things.

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Cool Garage Obsession

On October 27, 2012, in BMW M3 Driving Blog, by admin

Cool Garages: It’s one of my favorite things in life.

My garage is my playpen. And some of my most satisfying time is spent messing around in my garage. Detailing or working on my cars is a great way for me to recreate, so organizing and cleaning my garage is a big part of my hobby. When the rest of the world is in chaos I can count on my garage to be an island of sanity.

Lately I’ve been doing a little more organizing after buying more products from one of my favorite suppliers. My wall cabinets are stocked with a good deal of stuff from Griot’s Garage. Their motto is, “Have fun in your garage.” They certainly have their finger on my pulse.

I also recently bought a new rolling cabinet for my microfiber towels, detailing equipment and a few other items. So now I’ve taken my playpen to a new level, and I figured that it’s time to get the camera out.


2012.08.12 Autocross with SCCA

On August 12, 2012, in BMW M3 Driving Blog, by admin

It had been a long time since I had done an autocross event but I thought I’d try my hand at it again. I had  only attempted it on one other occasion and didn’t do all that well. This time was different, thanks to the help of some friends.

For those of you who don’t know, an autocross is simply an event where cars drive through a course laid out with cones. It’s a timed event where each car makes its run, one by one. You compete for best time in your class. Two seconds are added to your time for each cone you knock out of its “box.”  If you hit a cone without moving it entirely out of its marked spot, no penalty is assigned. Typically the event is held at a large parking lot. In this case it was at the Family Arena in St. Charles, MO.

I felt a little nervous as the event approached. The night before the event I felt a cold trying to attach itself to me. Nevertheless I continued with my plans.

In preparation I had filled my portable air tank on Saturday so I could add air to my tires. I got my helmet out and loaded my torque wrench and a few other items. Sharon packed a lunch for me. Thankfully the weather was pretty favorable; in the 80′s instead of the recent 100+ temps we’d been having.

As a newby I didn’t know the drill but I was pleased to find lots of friendly people, some of whom I knew from other car related events. It was nice to catch up with them and hang out before things got too busy.

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I recently (finally) installed KW Coilovers on my BMW E36 M3. It was a long time coming but it was worth the wait – in spite of an inconvenient part failure.

(VIDEO at end of article)

Reducing body roll was my first objective, along with improving the overall handling characteristics. When my shocks showed signs of leaking I knew it was time to pull the trigger.

KW Variant 2 Coilovers

KW Variant 2 Coilovers

KW Variant 2 was my choice for shocks and struts. Variant 2 allows for ride height adjustment and rebound damping adjustment. I decided against Variant 3 because of the additional complexity of compression damping adjustment.

The spring rates are more aggressive than stock but they’re still friendly for the street. I got a very competitive price on the KWs and other BMW parts from AutoWerks of America.

For control arms and control arm bushings I stayed with OEM parts, and I did the same with the shock mounts.

Vorshlag Camber Plates and AKG Trailing Arm Bushings

Vorshlag Camber Plates and AKG Trailing Arm Bushings

Based on the recommendation of a friend I replaced the trailing arm bushings with AKG 80A Polyurethane units.

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Snowbound driver digs out

On February 11, 2012, in BMW M3 Driving Blog, by admin

Here in St. Louis our winter has been very mild. Not everyone has been so fortunate. I just saw this video from weather.com showing, among other things, a guy trying to get to his car. I hope I NEVER have to get my car out of anything this deep.

Check out this video:

snowbound car in Romania