Hmm, that doesn't look like a BMW 525. Well it's not. It's a 2001 Mazda Protege.
I bought this Protege in 2004 for four thousand bucks and spent about $11K during 2005 building it into an SCCA Showroom Stock Class C race car. It took me to an SCCA regional championship in 2007 and after NASA expanded to the east with a national championship taking place at Mid-Ohio I drove the Protege to a podium finish finishing second a few years later in Performance Touring F. My goal was to be a racer and to see how I could do at nationals. If I didn't lose fourth gear during the race while leading I am pretty sure I would have won - finishing second without 4th is a pretty sweet memory.
To have the opportunity to drive the Protege again is pretty special. A friend bought it. He's the fourth owner so it's been through a few changes, but it's still in one piece and feels like remember from the last time I raced it 11 years ago. This time around I get to drive it on a team with friends and Massimo - special deal for both of us!
At Lime Rock we were doing evaluation laps during the HPDE sessions. It's about 2400 pounds and makes 120-130hp so it won't be blowing anyone away on the straight. Being front wheel drive and low powered the suspension setup is really important. The SCCA spec included a custom built set of Bilstein shocks which were not adjustable so I spent time playing with tire pressure to adjust handling. It now has a much more tunable coil over set up so it rotates mid-corner so much better than before. I was the lucky one to drive it first at Lime Rock and it only took me four laps to spin at West Bend. I've never gone around in West Bend before so that was a new experience that I was able to share with our DE1 students in our classroom debrief.
Just like on the Protege, the ME Racing logo will be on the cars of friends in our paddock like John and Miguel that want to support us - we'll document and share who's sporting the pepper in future reports
Our next event is NASA NE at the Glen April 21-23. We'll be testing the Protege, working grid and running the DE1 class while continuing to prep the e34 for ST4. (As always there is more to do than expected with a new race car!)