Considered as the kick off for major auto racing in the United States, sports car racing at Daytona Beach, Florida opens the 2011 season under the banner of the Grand Am series. Running the Grand Am 200 for the Continental Tire Series and the Rolex 24 at Daytona for the Rolex Series, many of the top sports car racing teams want to start their year with a trophy (or watch).
Long standing as a reputable name in modifying BMW cars for road racing, Turner Motorsport has been perfecting their craft for almost 20 years. Starting in the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) Touring car series, Turner Motorsport has earned victories and even two Speed World Challenge series championship moving up the sports car ladder. For 2011, Turner Motorsport remains in the Grand Am association for sports car racing competing in both the Rolex Series GT class with updated their stable from the M6 to the smaller, nimbler M3 as well as in the Continental Tire’s GS (Grand Sport) category. Vying for 2011 honours in the Continental Tire series, the team purchased street-going BMW E92 M3 coupes to bring victory and/or the GS category championship to Turner Motorsport.
Unlike the Rolex GT series’ BMW M3 also prepared by Turner Motorsport, the GS version is built directly from a production car. While the Rolex GT rules allow a race purpose-built tubular frame, the Continental Tire GS class requires that original bodywork and the street vehicle’s chassis must be used on track. Shedding over 180 pounds compared to the street version of the BMW M3 coupe, the Turner Motorsport BMW M3 GS car weight reduction is credited to gutting the vehicle of interior trim pieces including rear and passenger seats.
While the body changes are limited to a Grand-Am spec rear wing, Turner Motorsport is afforded the right to modify the ride as well as the braking to a mode more suited for racing. Adjustable front/rear sway bar and coil-over shock absorber suspension carries the Turner Motorsport BMW M3 race car’s Continental tires rides within 18-inch Forgeline wheels.
Powered by an engine which was recognized twice with an International Engine of the Year Award in its category, the 4-liter BMW S65 V-8 engine is morphed into a racing engine with no major performance changes (in accordance to GS category rules). Bosch Motorsport engine management system is the only major adjustment under the hood of the BMW M3. A stock exhaust manifold sends emissions through an exhaust set consisting of a Borla muffler with a cat back exhaust delete. Producing between 375 to 425 horsepower, the Turner Motorsport-prepared BMW M3 race car laps the 12-turn, 3.56 mile road course of Daytona International Speedway in less than 2 minutes.
A driver trio of Joey Hand, Bill Auberlan and Paul Dalla Lana took time steering their Turner Motorsport #96 BMW M3 to a third place run during the Grand Am 200 at Daytona International Speedway. Short of victory, another BMW M3 fielded by Rum Bum Racing took the gold in the GS class category for the 2011 Grand Am Continental Tire season.
Information and photo source: Grand Am, Turner Motorsport