This series of car tuning articles is sponsored by ModFind. The opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view. ModFind is an automotive marketplace for like-minded enthusiasts to buy and sell parts, as well as share listings for cash. Part 1 can be found here.
All car enthusiasts want a second (or third) car to use for weekend track use. While many enthusiasts are still hoping to one day acquire such a car, many enthusiasts already have it. Regardless of which camp your reside in, this article can be helpful for you in figuring out how to best mod your car for track use. We won’t get too far into engine tuning or hardcore track-duty, as the majority of enthusiasts just want something fun for casual weekend use. But we will help you figure out how to best get your car ready for a day on a proper racing circuit.
First thing’s first — tires. You do not want to head to the track with regular old all-season tires, otherwise you’re going to have a bad day. Instead, you want a sticky, high-performance tires that’s design for the rigors of genuinely hard driving. Mostly, you want some sort of high-performance summer tire, so we’d recommend getting something like a Michelin Pilot Sport, which can not only handle the abuse that it will face on track but it can also drive you to and from the track without any issues. It’s not a pure track tire but it’s certainly more than capable of putting down enough grip.
Tires are the most important thing you need, though. You can’t hit the track with the tires your car came with (unless you’ve bought a new M car). So you’re going to want to upgrade your rubber before anything else. You can always find some cheaper, yet still new tires on marketplaces like ModFind. Take for example this Michelin set of tires.
After tires, you’re going to want to upgrade your brakes. Unless you’re buying a brand-new M car for weekend track use (which the vast majority of track-day drivers are not), stock brakes just aren’t going to cut it on a circuit. Consistent heavy braking is going to wear out a car’s stock pads and rotors in just a few laps. So you’re going to want to get rotors and pads that can handle intense heat and constant abuse. Carbon ceramics are best but pricey, though likely worth it. You can some OEM or aftermarket brakes on ModFind.
Most weekend track day cars are older, inexpensive cars. Due to that, their shocks are likely too worn and springs too soft for regular track use. While tires and brakes are more important, you’re not going to have a good day at the track if your suspension is allowing the car to flop all over the place. Body roll is a pain to deal with on track, plus it can slow you down, so a good set of suspension is important. You can go with just some replacement shocks, maybe some replacement springs as well, but we’d recommend a full coilover kit. That way, you can adjust the height to your liking and, depending on the kit, the damper and rebound settings as well.
Most modern sports cars are turbocharged, which makes them incredibly easy to tune for more power. You can easily add 100 horsepower with just a simple ECU tune that costs just a few hundred dollars. That added power will make the car not only more fun on track but, if you’re in the competitive mood, also provide an advantage. Most enthusiasts don’t have the extra money to really add extra power to their weekend toy, so a simple ECU tune can be the perfect way to add noticeable power on a budget.
This one is usually only important for tuned turbocharged engines but it can’t hurt regardless of engine type. However, with turbocharged engines, especially tuned ones, heat can be a problem on track. Prolonged full-throttle use, which can be exacerbated by warm weather, can overheat and engine and cause problems. So investing in an upgraded intercooler and/or radiator, will not only help to keep temperatures down but also, in the case of the former, add a bit of power.
If you’re going to frequent the track regularly, you’re going to want your own racing helmet. Safety is the most important thing on a race track, as you can be the fastest person on the tarmac that day but then not come home alive. So investing in proper racing gear for yourself is every bit as important as investing in gear for your car. A good helmet is important, so you don’t have to borrow/rent one at the track. Gloves also help keep sweaty hands from slipping off the wheel.
If you’re looking to have some fun on track and not feed your family with race winnings, these are some great tips for getting your car track ready. You don’t need to use all of these upgrades but some combination of them will drastically improve your track-day BMW.