A Brief Introduction to BMW CCA Club Racing
BMW CCA Club Racing is the brainchild of Scott Hughes. Together with his wife, Fran, Scott has built a vibrant program from very humble beginnings in 1995. It is a single marque race series meaning a BMW always takes the checkered flag. It is also designed around vintage racing rules. That means that contact between cars is heavily discouraged. If you drove it to the event, you are supposed to drive it home in the same condition!
How is this done? In two ways. First, there's the overall philosophy which every racer is repeatedly reminded of. Those looking for more "bang" for the buck are politely but firmly asked to seek another series in which to participate. Here's the essence of that philosophy as stated in the latest rules:
"A competitive driving experience for all BMW CCA enthusiasts, in any/all types of BMW's in a fun, safe, and friendly environment where the primary emphasis is on clean driving and machinery preservation."
The second way that contact between cars is discouraged is via the enforcement of the 13/13 rule:
"Conduct which jeopardizes safety or results in dangerous or damaging situations will not be tolerated... the '13/13 rule' of vintage racing will be in effect at all BMW CCA Club Racing Program events... Any driver who is found to be at fault in an incident will be:
- Excluded from competition for the remainder of the event at which the incident occurs.
- Subject to suspension from the next BMW CCA Club Racing event in which they could have competed.
- Placed on probation for a thirteen (13) month period. If during this probation period the driver is involved in another incident, his competition privileges will be suspended for thirteen (13) months."
Club racing is open to any and all BMWs so long as they meet safety requirements. To make participation more fun and to recognize that not all BMWs were created equal, there are a myriad of classes divided into five groups: stock, prepared, modified, super-modified, and historic.
The stock classes feature cars with the fewest mechanical modifications. Within the stock classes, cars are grouped from slowest to fastest generally by considering the ratio of power to weight. For example, the E30 M3, E28 535i, and E36 325 are all grouped together in J-Stock.
The prepared classes are designed for the next level of modifications, with more liberal allowances for mechanical changes. Most club racing entries come from either the prepared or stock classes.
Changes in the modified classes are more radical; super-modified classes are reserved for those few cars which are fully done race cars originally designed to compete in professional series such as IMSA GT, Super Touring, SCCA World Challenge, etc. Finally, historic classes are for true vintage machinery.
Racers are as carefully scrutinized as their cars. The rules require no less than eight full days of track experience within the last 24 months, a signed affidavit from a chapter's chief instructor, and a medical certificate in order to apply for a license. License applications are thoroughly examined by Fran Hughes, who will call references if she has any doubts about the applicant's fitness and readiness to race.
Many club race events are held in conjunction with BMW driving schools. Club racers are assigned their own, segregated run groups in which to practice, qualify, and finally to race. Most races are short sprints lasting 30 minutes or so. Longer endurance races (e.g., one hour duration) are less frequent. When there are a sufficient number of entrants and space on the schedule, the racers are subdivided. Stock and slower prepared cars make up one race group. Faster prepared and modified cars make up a second race group.
In 1998, there were about 25 club racing events held throughout North America. Needless to say, the best of the lot was "Bimmers Across the Border II" a joint driving school and club race weekend held at Le Circuit race track in close proximity to Mt. Tremblant resort. This was the second such event co-organized by the BMW CC and the Boston Chapter of the BMW CCA. The event attracted 140 cars to the track and about 250 guests to the mountain top banquet. Plans are already underway to hold "Bimmers III" next year. And your truly is working with the BMW CC Motorsports Committee to try to arrange for a second club race on Canadian soil in 1999 to be held at Motosport. Stay tuned to learn whether we can pull this off.