Race Report - Sebring March 31-April 1st


Great weekend and great weather for us. Got some rain after our race on Saturday, but clear skies for us while on the track. Huge thanks to everyone from out of town (Jim L, Chuck T., Kish and Jim & Brandon P.) for coming down and joining in the fun. Sebring is always fun, but the extra folks made it great. Saturday night, the local BMWCCA chapter threw a Beer and Brats party trackside which is always a great way to finish off an amazing day at the track.

We ran three races this weekend; a single race on Saturday and two combined group races on Sunday. Brandon “Pissant” Pantas stunk up the joint by consistently being fastest in qualifying and winning the the Saturday and first race on Sunday. The rest of us made an appearance on track :lol: Finding a shred of human compassion, the Pantas team packed up before the second race on Sunday and let the rest of us duke it out to save some once of our dignity. The last race found Don “The Sly Fox” Stevens busting the best move of the weekend according to several racers on track and passing me in turn 17 coming to the white flag. The last lap was an all out scrap between him and I, but thanks to the new brakes, I was able to out-brake him to retake the lead.

In what was probably the world record time, Chuck and team managed to swap out a broken rocker arm in about 30 mins to get him back on the track for the second race. Amazing. Unfortunately, he had to start from the back for the second race, but no doubt he’d have been there with us battling for the lead. Kish had some cooling issues on Saturday but got those fixed to get back on track Sunday. The worst incident was during the first race on Sunday when our fearless SE30 regional director, Natalie got collected by a Spec Piñata and got her strut housing bent along with some minor body damage. In typical Natalie never-quit fashion, she stayed in it and finished the race. The damage kept her out of the second race. I had some of my own issues on Sunday and lost the clip on the front of the shifter and couldn’t get to second gear on track. Had to use third and fourth only. Carlos (Silence) and his friend John quickly pulled the clip from his E30 between races to get me back on track for the second race. You guys were awesome, thanks!

Overall, an amazing weekend!! Sadly, it’s Monday and we’re back to work…

Full results are up on Mylaps:



I second Shawn’s comments. The weather was nice, comraderie was fun, and the racing was good.

Congratulations to Brandon. He had us all covered from the first session on.

The visitors from SE and NJ got up to speed nicely by Sunday morning and I hope you all had fun. Sebring is not an easy place to learn because of lack of reference points. I was impressed with how quickly everyone caught on.

Sorry to see Natalie’s damage at the expense of the fricken Miatas.

It took me all weekend to get up to speed but finally found some time by trying to stay glued to Shawn’s bumper which was a lot of fun.

I don’t have a video camera so I have nothing to share but I am looking forward to seeing videos form the rest of the guys.

See you in June.



Thanks Florida Spec E30 drivers for hosting all us northerners with a great time. I had lots of fun and wouldn’t mind racing with you guys, and girls, again. B)

To whom it may concern,

I looked at Spec E30 record lap times and they need to be updated after this weekend at Sebring. There were a few people that broke track records this weekend.


I’ll offer my thanks to the NASA & BMW folks that made this weekend such a success.

The tow down & back (12hrs) wasn’t much fun, but the time on the track made it worthwhile. Sebring has been one of my “bucket list” tracks and now I’ve had a chance to race on it. I remember reading about the races at Sebring way too many years ago in the mags and wondering what it would be like. Now I know.

For me, Sebring isn’t an easy track to learn. Obviously the “Boy Wonder” Pantas didn’t have any problems, nor did Chuck. But never got to the point that I had a mental picture of the track. Since some parts of the track look a lot alike, I’d find myself wondering if the turn ahead one you brake for or take flat. You really don’t want to get that wrong. I need another weekend or so to get the track down. But it was all good. I got faster every time out (Thanks Shawn for the lead-follow Sun morning), so it was a rewarding weekend.

If there is a similar event next year, I’ll be there!


My own weekend entailed primarily overcoming mechanical challenges. I had a severely leaking fuel gauge sender on the driver’s side that was spilling fuel onto the LR tire. Being slow-witted as I am, I completed exactly zero full laps during practice and qualifying before finally understanding why the LR tire had the grip of a greasy ice cube in all the RH turns!

Anyway, several rounds of goober engineering later (aided by GA buddies Eric/Tom), I’d reduced the flood of fuel to a trickle, and I started the Saturday race from the back, with absolutely no idea where the track went! Natalie was in front of me, and I had fun trying to follow her around as I learned, until our race was cut short by a FCY that ultimately ended the race.

I’m told the owner of the Miata Flambe on the front straight jumped out of his car, into the middle of the hot track, and took a bow to the “crowd” in the pits. Amazing. Apparently Darwin was on coffee break at that critical moment.

My GA contingent and I were back at the Chateau soaking up the pool and watching the DE drivers spin at the hairpin, and so we missed the NASA party. I’m told it was a good time, but we did come back over for the BMW CR party that followed, and really enjoyed talking with Shawn, Natalie/John,and all the other folks that were there.

Sunday Shawn was kind enough to dial back the speed in practice so Levie and I could follow him around, and being a really great host, he even let me outqualify him by a few tenths. Guess I better return some favors soon!

Anyway, at the first race on Sunday I was lucky enough to pick the left line from T1-T4 which kept inching forward, at the expense of somebody holding up the right side. As a result, I found myself heading down towards the hairpin right on Pissant’s bumper. P2, very nice! Wasn’t to last long though, as Natalie schooled me in T17 on the first lap, and I spent the next few trying to hang with her, until malady #2 struck. Busted #4 intake rocker! Damn!

I was ready to pack it up and sulk 500 miles home, but Eric and Tom (who have way more experience with busted M20 rockers than I) made me get going with the repair, and using their very clever method of taking pressure off all the rockers, we slid the shaft out through the cam gear (no timing belt work required) and got it replaced in about 35 minutes.

This sent me to grid for race #2 at the back (again) where I motored around for 30 minutes, trying to learn a few things but avoid having anything else to fix.

Anyway, it was a great event, wonderful hospitality from the SE30 locals, great weather, and I’m really looking forward to doing it again sometime soon.


Glad you had a good time Chuck and glad you stuck with it! Hope to see you in Roebling in a couple of weeks…


Seems that Sebring results in alot of broken rockers. Were they OEM BMW and were they originals or had they been replaced once you started racing?


I can’t say exactly what they are, (didn’t spend much time studying the busted one on Sunday) but my prior race engine had never broken a rocker, so they were never top of mind for me.

In June 2011 I rebuilt the tired motor that originally came from my 89is automatic, so I would guess they were factory original parts.

During the course of the engine build I put in a new camshaft and new springs, but reused the rockers. My personal theory is somewhat Darwinistic, in that a rocker that survives 20 years is a darn good rocker.

I must say, I was surprised as heck when it broke.

I also had a side question asked of me about checking valve clearance. I confess that after one or two weekends last summer, I did a complete valve adjustment, but had not checked them since.

I don’t normally twist the engine much past 6100 but I found that in T17 in particular, I was using 3rd and was running all the way to rev limiter before I finished the corner and upshifted. In race 2 I started using 4th in that corner (didn’t get a chance to ask the locals what they do)


I am in the process of having a motor rebuilt for my car, and I’m just trying to decide if replacing the rockers with new OEMs is worth the $300+ cost. My current motor has the 20 year old ones and has had no issues, but it is my understanding that they do wear overtime so there might be an advantage in changing them in that aspect. You also remind me that I haven’t done a valve adjustment in probably near 2 years. I will do it this weekend before Roebling.


I take 17 in 3rd but 4th is faster as evidenced by Shawn’s fast times and the Drive Gear guys turning 39s here at Winterfest. I tried 4th a few times but to be fast at exit the entry has to be “just right” which I was never able to do. In the heat of battle with Shawn Sunday afternoon I was using 3rd only because it is really just an old habit.

I have been very lucky not to break a rocker at Sebring.

Chuck do you have any videos to post?



The only thing I have that’s worth posting is the start and first 3-4 laps from Sunday race 1 before it broke. However, my camera/computer for video are in Atlanta, and I’m not, so will have to wait until the weekend.


Since I have seen broken rockers on cars with automatic transmissions driven by folks that never got up high in the rpm range, I have a theory on broken rockers. That being that the probability of a rocker breaking is a direct function of whether the engine saw timely valve adjustments (most don’t get that kindness). The repetitive impacts from excessive valve clearance fatigues the rockers and eventually results in failure.

If building a head, using new rockers and polishing the area around the eccentric fork (where they break) to remove stress risers and frequent valve adjustments will minimize the chances of a broken rocker. To reduce loads on the rockers you can adjust the intakes for 0.006" and the exhausts for 0.008".


I agree that lack of valve adjustment is a major culprit…anyone ever seen a broken rocker on an ETA??

I used to go to Winterfest way back when…like when it first started, sorta itching to go back to sebring…hmm…maybe a side trip to key west…hmm when is the next race?



[quote=“FARTBREF” post=64732]I agree that lack of valve adjustment is a major culprit…anyone ever seen a broken rocker on an ETA??


Yup. Our Chumpcar runs with an eta motor. 8 hrs into a 24 hr race we broke #3 intake rocker arm:


So glad our friends from up North joined us for the weekend! Thanks for coming down (and bring some more of the guys next time B) )

June event… wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Here’s a link to my “greatest hits” video from Sunday’s race:

and a few photos of the aftermath…




why this picture insists on displaying upside down, is beyond me…


Rough day… Good seeing you and Don!


Some video from the races:

Saturday Lightning race:


Sunday Race #2:


A “Sly Fox” Highlight video:



Here is Sunday race 1 first few laps from my perspective.



[quote=“ctbimmer” post=64828]Here is Sunday race 1 first few laps from my perspective.


You need to give us permission to view!


Fixed. Sorry, seems to be a bug in iMovie upload; I specified public but it still uploads as private and needs to be fixed manually.