6 Popular BMW Mods to Get Ready for Track Day

BMW E46 M3 track car

There’s a saying on BMW forums that if you plan to spend thousands on engine mods, you should instead put that money toward track days where you learn to need the extra power. This is definitely a statement with some truth to it, but not everyone is looking to get into the racing scene. BMWs were pretty much built for the track. Even the hand brake is a regular brake. It’s a performance machine that provides a leisurely drive, but it’s best when you can open up the throttle and hit the road without reservation.

When preparing your BMW for the track, you’ll want to follow a few simple rules. It should be clean, so you don’t embarrass yourself. Your car should run and sound right, again, so you don’t embarrass yourself. And you should be able to handle your car’s raw power. That’s on you, and will take some getting used to.

Fortunately, we can help you pick out some affordable, amateur race-friendly upgrades. Also, if money is tight or you are just starting out, you can always look into a sponsorship program for your BMW to help diffuse the costs a bit.

Engine Modifications

2004 BMW 330ci engine

As far as engine mods go, we’re not recommending anything too extreme like a total swap. Simple things like replacing your spark plugs and checking the wiring can give you a boost of speed you’d forgotten you had, especially in older model cars. A lot of engine work comes down to routine maintenance. Keeping your car in shape will keep it running smooth under high-performance conditions. Long-term track racers are prone to breakdowns and problems caused by the performance of their car.

Therefore, you’ll want to make sure your car maintenance is done in a timely fashion. Check your fluids, and make sure that things like the timing belt have been handled. Oil leaks are also a detriment, not just to you but to others on the track. Leaking oil presents a hazard. Seals and gaskets are crucial to inspect and replace as needed.

Chassis

Generally speaking, the BMW chassis has a strong balance between good torque and handling ability. The best thing you can do before you hit the track is to make sure your chassis is working well, without any defects or bends that could affect your driving. There are obvious clues that something has happened, like a dent or missing VIN codes on the panels, but less obvious collision damage should be evident to the trained eye.

You’ll want to make sure you buy a car that doesn’t have these defects. If you do have them, repairs can be costly, but may be worth the price. What’s not worth it is trying to test a car out without knowledge of how it will handle. Take it to a mechanic if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

Exhaust

image: Vivid Racing

image: Vivid Racing

The sound of a BMW is nearly unmistakable to enthusiasts, and the right kind of exhaust will compliment that sound and add a bit of power. You will want one, but you will want to decide what you hope to hear out of your car. The more American bass and rumble sound of muscle cars, or the screaming sound that shows off the raw power of the engine. Purely aesthetic. Totally cool.

Safety

Safety on the track is everyone’s concern and priority. Racing is a blast, but it’s also extremely dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing and aren’t prepared. Remember, you’re racing with your car. For most people, that should signal a certain sense of trepidation. For some, the allure of the gas pedal is just too strong. Preparing for safety begins well before you ever hit the road to get to the track.

You will want a first aid kit situated in the back of your car, complete with a fire extinguisher. You will want a driving helmet, a fire suit and gloves if you can afford to get them. Bring plenty of water with you, and be prepared to do some stretches throughout the day to keep yourself limber. Racing has an unusual way of taking a toll on the body.

Lights

Headlights help you see better at night, but they are also part of your car’s style. HIDs offer more brightness and a longer lasting light, plus they look better than plain old bulbs. You might not feel the need to upgrade your lights immediately. You’ll want new head lamps when you feel your car is almost perfect, but needs that extra certain something.

Suspension

image: European Car

image: European Car

This is the one area where you might want to study up and pay out for something nice. A well-tuned suspension helps you corner better, and provides you with better grip on the road. It will make you faster without touching your horsepower, and without you having to push the car harder. After you max out your BMW’s stock suspension, consider upgrading to an aftermarket sport suspension. Spend time getting this one right and there will be feedback on the track that is more rewarding.

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