Over the past couple of years, NASA Executive Director Jerry Kunzman and I have discussed the future of Spec E30. We agree that very-few club racing series continue to thrive after more than a few years, especially series that are based on a specific street car model. Newer models come along, with better designs and stronger engines and with most club racers wanting to go faster, the older and slower car series usually fade away.
Spec E30 however, is holding strong. We’ve seen record fields this year and the enthusiasm is still very high. No doubt; contained costs (with a few low-cost changes each year to keep it interesting) and close racing throughout the field have helped our drivers continue to enjoy racing in Spec E30. Plus, we continue to see new racers building cars.
As Jerry and I have recognized, Spec E30 can’t last forever and we drivers have started to see the pool of available cars get smaller. There are still plenty of E30s on the road but many are eta cars or 318s. A friend in the high end used car business, and a BMW enthusiast for three decades, said there are few cheap 325i E30s available. Beater cars with trashed interiors are bringing $1,000.00, he said.
During our last phone conversation, Jerry proposed an interesting idea. After hearing his thoughts on a good strategy for the future of Spec E30, I agreed that he is on to something.
Based on NASA’s experience with the Camaro Mustang Challenge (aka CMC) series and how they dealt with newer models coming into the series, Jerry’s idea basically has Spec E30 and Spec 3 (NASA’s spec series for E36 cars) merging into one series. As E30 cars get older and the costs of building a Spec E30 car rise, due to fewer available street cars, building a Spec 3 car will be a viable option, cost-wise. We will see a natural transition from older to newer. It’s going to happen whether we like it or not.
We also see a transition someday, from E36 race cars to E46 cars. Someday, my E90 335i daily driver may become a NASA Spec series race car.
Over the next two or three years, you will see Spec E30 cars change slightly every year, to bring their performance up, to achieve the same lap times of Spec 3. We don’t have very far to go so don’t expect radical changes.
With the new horsepower rule being in effect, no one in Spec E30 will need to build an expensive engine to stay competitive. Basically, we will explore low-cost ways to increase performance over a two-to-three year period, stepping it up every year. We welcome ideas from drivers and we will make the transition slowly and carefully. And if we make a mistake, we will fix it. Our drivers are our “customers” and while we won’t make everyone happy I’m sure, we will do what is required to keep the greatest number of drivers happy, even if a few are not.
I will discuss ideas with your Spec E30 Regional Series Directors that will increase performance, at the lowest possible cost. I will also spend more time on the forums, reading your ideas.
Ultimately, we want NASA drivers to have options. You can build an E30, continue to race your E30, build and E36, or continue to race an E36, and be competitive in either car.
Spec E30 Co Founder and National Series Director