Hi from Napa


Hi there, I wanted to introduce myself as I explore joining SpecE30! I’ve done a few track days in my daily driver and am hooked. Then I was reading the local paper about a local guy that won Spec E30, Tim Barber. I didn’t know what it was so I did some research and that led me here. Definitely interested in pursuing this. I’m in Napa so it appears I may be close to some good E30 resources/shops/instruction/and Sears Point (as we used to call it). From what I can gather, I need much more experience in HPDE events. I’ve done three and hope to do two more by November. But that’s in my daily driver (C63 AMG), and I’d need to get a license and a car. So, to me, it seems as though getting the car first to use as I progress through HPDE towards earning the license makes most sense. Do you all agree? I’d be interested in hearing from any NorCal folks in my region that might have some tips. Obviously there’s Craigslist and the classifieds here as well. Thanks for letting me say hi! Hopefully there’s some life in this forum as I see only one post from all of 2017…


Hey There! My name is Nick Thiemann, one of your friendly NorCal SpecE30 folks. Most of our region tend to stay fairly quite on the forums, but I’d be happy to help get you connected. There are a few cars for sale in the region, at a couple different price points, which can get you started, or jump into a race winning car. Our final race is October 27-28 at Sonoma. Stop by and say hi if you can! If you have a few minutes, give me a ring at 303-905-6one3one and we can connect on finding a car and joining our group. There’s also a NorCal SpecE30 facebook group that we tend to populate a bit more. We look forward to meeting and racing with you!


Cool thanks Nick. Yes I saw the event at Sonoma in October and will try and reach out. I’ll try to get out there on Saturday and find some of the E30 team. Hoping to learn more. I’ll be at Thunderhill on Sunday… :slight_smile:

Can’t find the Norcal FB link for the Spec, just the other Norcal E30 group.


Hey Chris, try this link and request to join:


Hi Chris. I embarked on a similar journey two years ago. Here’s how it went for me:

  • Get a NASA membership
  • Rent a SE30 prepared car and try it out during an upcoming NASA or CFRA event at Laguna Seca or Sonoma. See if you like it. I rented mine via Ray Zanotto at Sonoma Valley Racing.
  • Go through a licensing program with a SE30 rental… or buy one if you’re all in. Get license.
  • Go racing! Have fun!


Hey thanks for the info. I actually talked to Ray last week but he didn’t offer up a rental solution. Can’t imagine that would be inexpensive renting a spec car for the day? I’m hoping to get out to Sonoma at the end of the month to meet some folks and kick tires. What licensing program did you use? I haven’t quite been able to figure out the details of getting a license, other than get signed off on participating in a HPDE 4 level event.


Chris, I am also new, but didn’t have the experience of using a C63 AMG for my track learning. That must be a blast! My experience was buying a track-prepped E30, but not caged full race car. I used it for a couple of events, and then took it to a builder of my choice, which was Barber Raceworks in SC. Not many, if any, can build you a better SE30 in my opinion, but he’s a long ways from you. The easy button is to buy a car already built and ready to race, and then learn in it from HDPE 1 through maybe DE 3, then request access to comp school. That way you’re already comfortable with the dynamics of the car you’ll actually be racing before you have to ramp up to 11 on the situational awareness, etc. The fewer new things the better, I think. Easier on the ol’ CPU upstairs, if you can have some stuff running in the background. Good luck to you! I am planning on comp school this coming Spring, myself, likely in the SE.

I would also go ahead and get all your personal safety equipment, like shoes, suit, gloves, undergarments, cool shirt, etc., and even water and air if you’re going to run that, and use all that even in DE. Again, the more you’re used to before you jump in the deep end, the easier it’ll be.


Thanks HiFi. My goal would be to find something serviceable to drive beginning next season so I can lay off the C63, and as you say, get used to the equipment. I don’t think I could pull the trigger are on a fully built car yet, I’m thinking of just getting something that meets some of the basic requirements for a few grand and then do the HPDE3 and comp school etc. I only discovered SpecE30 now at the end of the season so I guess I’ve got several months to figure out my path forward!


To do comp school, you have to have a fully built car with an annual. You can do DE3 in damn near anything, though. I just got into DE3 myself at my most recent event, so it sounds like you’re maybe ahead of me slightly. Solid E30s are getting harder to come by, but if you’re patient, you can find one that would be a good starter. I would suggest making sure it’s rust free, and if you can find a manual 325is, that’s a bonus, since you’ll already have the drivetrain you need, including the engine, transmission and LSD. My car was built from a clean 325e shell, but i already had a spare 1988 325is to use for all the running gear. That seems to be a good year, BTW, since it has a good combo of late cooling/fuel tank, and early bumpers, which come in handy in W2W, or so I am told. Either way, I can tell you that the SpecE30 community is vibrant, and largely you’ll not meet a better bunch of people. The driving/racing is nearly incidental, in every meaning of the word, and the main thing seems to be the party in the paddock.


If you’re handy, you can buy a mid-level built (caged) specE30 for under 10K, use it for DE and comp school, and slowly modify/add/make your own, along the way.


Ahhh I see. Didn’t know that piece. I’m headed out to my region’s last race here at the end of the month to meet some of the players and see what’s available and most importantly, LEARN STUFF. I’m sort of leaning towards a 4-door, which makes it a little more tricky to find the LSD. But, any idea how easy/difficult it is to source the right diff? Or just leave it to the builder/shop?


I have a 2-door, but most people that I know prefer the 4-door, mainly for accessibility to the rear seat area. No idea about sourcing a diff in the NE. I am in the SE, and my car came with a spare 3.73 LSD, which needs a rebuild. I only toss out this idea because its what I did, and I’m happy I did it. Bought a raceable mid-level car, and have been tinkering with it ever since, fire system, seat, etc. I only wish I would have gotten it sooner and DE’d it as well.


By mid-level, I mean a fully prepped car with a tech sticker and a logbook.


I did SCCA at Thunderhill as it came recomended. Was a great experience. As I recall the SCCA Provisional enables you to get a NASA Provisional with a bit of paperwork and a physical / eye exam. Then its go time.