2002 BMW M3: Let's Go Autocrossing
December 01, 2008
On a whim, I signed up for an autocrossing school Saturday at California Speedway's Lot 12 in Fontana. And on a whim, I requested our 2002 BMW M3 to experience what's left of the sticky Yokohama Advan Neova AD07 tires we put on in February.
Autocross school is better than a championship for a novice like me, as I probably got 15-16 laps in for the whole day -- about 3 times as many as you'd get in official timed competition. Somewhere during my third lap, I realized I was driving one of the trickier cars out there -- perhaps topped only by a Canadian-built, not-a-kit-car Cobra.
Which is to say that driving a E46 BMW M3 around an autocross course is very, very fun. Any combination of steering and throttle input (and not anything close to full throttle) had the back end coming around. The M3 offers good feedback through the seat and the steering wheel, though, so the slides were easy to predict and catch -- well, most of the time.
I was torn: Part of me wanted to turn some cleaner runs and quicker times, but another, equally impassioned part of me wanted to get the tail out through every corner. In the end, we sort of compromised. My times came down a bit, and I created my own enormously entertaining, hands-on course in car control.
Rarely have I ever had this much time and space to play with a powerful, rear-wheel-drive car. The Stoptech brakes also felt great when I got on them hard. The only casualty of the weekend was the right foglight. It was already missing its protective casing and when it knocked against a cone, the lens cracked. The light still works, but when I noticed it was bouncing out of position on the freeway, I yanked it out.
I am now intrigued by the idea of using an E46 M3 as a hooligan autocross car, a counter to all the WRXs and Miatas out there. Video and photos shot by Loren Wong (SubyTrojan) submitted for your enjoyment.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 64,897 miles