E92 M3 Pikes Peak Hill Climb Car
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E92 M3 Pikes Peak Hill Climb Car

Last Update: 01-19-2018

Pikes PeakOn the last weekend in June, 2017 we will be competing in our first ever hill climb event - the 95th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado. A hill climb is just like a rally stage - a one-way race along a course with the winner being the driver with the fastest time. But Pikes Peak is no normal "hill". This course is 12.42 miles, 156 turns, on a paved asphalt surface, a starting line at 9,100 feet above sea level, and an elevation change of 4,720 feet (four thousand seven hundred and twenty feet)...

Our car for this endeavor is last year's E92 M3 Street/Track car project. That car started out as a typical used E92 M3 bought at auction. It was a little rough around the edges but underneath the scars of lease life there was tangible vitality. We bought the car to demonstrate what could be done with a modest budget to turn any E9X M3 into a formidable track car with some concessions for street use. On paper we sketched out a build that would be capable of lapping at the front of a typical race group and still be somewhat streetable at an all-in price of under $45k, including the donor car. With planning and a parts list already underway, we needed to shift course and build a hill climb car. Most of our new planning was to account for the extremes of the Pikes Peak event - the side effects of 14,000 foot elevation and the massive drops without guardrails. Many of the parts we used were carried over from the original build plan but several required additional upgrading or taken a step further. We needed to go beyond the usual track day prep to improve safety, cooling, and other areas. We began calling our project Weekend Warrior, Phase II (which then became P2 and finally P2, coincidentally the initials for Pikes Peak).

Here is our build:


E92 M3 MCS Dampers
Thankfully, the Pikes Peak course is well-maintained tarmac all the way up. However, the surface is uneven with a lot of crowns, undulations, and waviness to the surface, not unlike the typical US freeway. To maximize compliance and performance, we went for 3-Way MCS Coil Overs in place of the 2-Way dampers that were on the original build sheet. The additional third adjustment is for low speed compression, which isolates the lower speed suspension travel (platform pitch and roll) so we can support the car properly and specifically dial in the high-speed suspension movements on a bumpy surface. The coil overs would complement the rest of our proven suspension package - Eibach racing springs, Hotchkis sway bars, Ground Control Race camber plates, and BimmerWorld solid mounts, control arms, and monoball bearings. From our initial build, the suspension was going to get top billing. It's always the place to start when building a BMW track car, and especially when following a budget conscious approach (even when the budget climbs). No other modifications will get you as much bang for the buck. This total package is our proven formula for road racing and should put us in a good spot for the hill climb with only minor adjustments after a few runs.


E92 M3 PFC Brakes
Brakes are critical on any vehicle but get extra attention on track-focused cars. At Pikes Peak they get double-extra importance. Not only because you're barreling towards a drop-off at any one of the course's 150+ turns, but because speed management is constant and frequent. On any car we look for a braking system that will be predictable, won't fade, and with a pad compound that has excellent initial bite and will also shed speed quickly. And we build a braking system around that - a quality racing pad, stainless brake lines, a cooling system, and possibly some lighter two-piece rotors. This is not only a capable track formula, but also one that wins races.

However in our P2 build, we redefined optimal and went with a brake system comprised of Performance Friction 4-piston Z54/Z45 calipers and the latest V3 slotted discs. Lighter and stiffer than the factory parts (over 18 pounds in total), these are some of the lightest racing brakes on the market and will stop consistently at every turn, and inspire driver confidence (and looking over a cliff at 14,000 feet, BimmerWorld owner and Mountain Dummy James Clay upped the budget to provide as much of that as possible).

Engine and Driveline

We adhered to our original Weekend Warrior build here more than other areas of the car, primarily to include the tried and true power adders. Mother Nature saps power at these elevations and many other cars are built with superchargers or upgraded turbos. These add weight and heat - two byproducts that we already expected to challenge us (see below). Built engines, engine swaps, or more exotic options are quite frankly out of the scope of even the expanded budget. Just like many of our customers, we are pinching pennies and using them where they count most!

We stuck to the standard formula for making power – more intake flow, less exhaust restriction, adapt software calibration and reduce parasitic losses. The Macht Schnell intake on this S65 is not only a great budget fit, but it makes big power also. On the exhaust side, we developed a racing center section with Magnaflow (which is now in-catalog) and added our Magnaflow-built Race Exhaust for maximum flow (and an amazing V8 exhaust note!) Epic race software pulls it all together with a custom calibration for 110 octane to reduce heat – a critical goal for the thin air.

The driveline was no exception when it came to shedding weight and reducing parasitic losses. We had Tilton produce a twin-disc Cerametallic clutch to pair with a JB Racing Ultralight flywheel for a streetable package that makes shifts fast – and drops 25 total pounds! A custom limited slip unit replaces the factory M-Variable option (details forthcoming after further testing – we do that part so you don't have to). Typical S65 maintenance was also carried out - new treated rod bearings, spark plugs, ignition coils, and fresh Red Line fluids throughout.


E92 M3 CSF Cooling Package
The starting line at Pikes Peak is 9,400 feet above sea level. At that elevation the ambient air is significantly less dense and struggles to soak up the heat from the cooling vanes of the radiator and oil coolers. Heat soak is a typical problem and overheating is expected if the system is not given serious consideration. Factor in the greater demand on the engine with heavy throttle on a steep grade and the cooling system is going to have a workout. We were afraid that adding larger coolers would add even more weight to the car but that hasn't been the case with the CSF radiator, oil cooler, transmission cooler, and power steering coolers we chose. Even with more surface area and all-aluminum construction, these coolers are within a few pounds to the stock pieces. With the cooling performance improved substantially that's a trade-off we're happy to accept.

E92 M3 Red Line Fluids
Fluids are the other critical component in any automotive cooling system to both reduce the heat generated (or sometimes retained) and to deal with the extreme temperatures more effectively. Red Line Water Wetter replaces our antifreeze in our coolant system to provide lubricity for the water pump, anti-corrosion on the metal bits, and increased heat transfer to lower temperatures. Red Line 50WT Race Oil is a tick lighter than the 10W60 factory fill which retains less heat and the Group V PAO ester base stocks are a grade or two above the alternatives, giving us better sheer strength and bearing protection. Red Line D4ATF and 75W140 fill the transmission and differential, respectively.

Wheels and Tires

TA16 Forged Wheels
Whether we need the long term durability for a dual-purpose car or to prevent a critical failure on the mountain, our fully forged TE:AL 18x10" race wheels were the obvious choice. Forged from T6061 aluminum with design features to minimize weight without impacting strength, our wheels are the first answer to almost any wheel question. These wheels feature motorsport technology and design elements at an easily approachable price point. They are stronger and more durable than cast and "flow-formed" wheels and have generous brake clearance. The 18x10" ET25 wheels fit within the bodywork without the need for spacers or body modifications.

For rubber, we have chosen the Hoosier A7 road racing tire in a 275/35-18 size on both axles. These tires quickly reach operating temperature (remember, no warm-up runs and it's a standing start) and will provide consistent grip throughout the entire 10+ minute run. If it happens to rain or snow (which it likely will), we will be prepared with Hoosier rain tires as well.


E92 M3 Cage
A primary difference in the shift to P2 planning was in the scope of the required safety items. Safety is always the first priority but the added dangers of Pikes Peak force a more dedicated plan than the original.

Roll Cage. In a dual-purpose track/street car we would limit the scope of this to a roll bar - a "back half" structure consisting of a hoop for rollover protection, back stays to keep it upright, and a harness bar to go along with your 4 or 5-point racing harnesses. For the P2 build we extended this to include the front half of this structure and specifically with additional rollover protection since, at Pikes Peak, leaving the road can mean tumbling a few hundred feet down the mountainside.

Harnesses and Nets. Building a Street / Track car? Schroth 4-point harnesses are designed to work without a rollbar to keep you from slipping around (and give additional crash protection). For track-focused cars with racing seats, a typical 6-point with racing seats is desired. Our Pikes Peak car goes a step further with a Schroth 7-point harness system. The 7th point carries the negative vertical load on rollover. Additionally, Schroth left and right side nets are added to keep the driver in the seat, and a window net to keep objects in their rightful place either inside or outside the car.

Fire System. Our Hill Climb car has a premium Lifeline Novec 1230 fire system because if it happens to go off track and catch fire, the chances of worker assistance are slim. A fire system was always on the budget build because we have seen a trend forming of such systems used on dual-purpose cars (not just race cars). This is a movement that we fully support and all future BimmerWorld track cars will have an integrated fire system. You have to ask yourself - what makes a dedicated track car any less likely to catch fire than a race car? Just because there's no rule book when building a dual-purpose car doesn't mean this vital safety feature should be skipped. Why should you or your passengers be any less protected? It shouldn't be from lack of understanding of fire systems in general or difficulty in installing a system that prevents you from including one. Educating our customers is the first step for a safer hobby. This ounce of protection goes a long way toward peace of mind.

Weight Reduction and Aero

To make the car go faster, add lightness. Without question, one of the cheapest ways to make a car faster is by reducing weight. If you're not following a rulebook, the extent of weight reduction is nearly endless. There are many obvious ways of trimming the fat: removing the interior, stripping unnecessary trim and wiring, install lighter components, and more. We were already on our way when planning for P2 took over but the same path applies to your own dual-purpose car, only limited by what you can tolerate. Improving the performance:weight ratio has already been done on the exhaust, wheels, suspension, brakes, and cooling system. But P2 demanded more.

In the spirit of escalation [or was that elevation?], we also substituted several carbon fiber pieces for their stock counterparts. Modifying the factory panels for lightness requires many man hours of prep and fabrication work. And the end result is still not as light or rigid as these carbon pieces. Since deleting the sunroof is de rigueur anyway, we filled in the void with one of our carbon sunroof delete panels. The doors and trunklid were also exchanged for carbon fiber. We're especially proud of these pieces as they are direct bolt-on with minimal prep required. To the doors we added Lifeline GT mirrors instead of reinstalling the swollen factory pieces. To top if off we exchanged the bulky factory dashboard for one made from carbon fiber. It has all of the same shapes and design cues as the factory piece but at a fraction of the weight. All of the instrument and control surfaces are flat which makes it easy to lay out your gauges and switchgear. Total weight savings from the carbon fiber bits was over 100lbs!

We wanted P2 to retain a factory appearance but generating downforce is essential to going faster on the hill, more so in the thin air. We have a lot of practical knowledge and experience in gaining more downforce on our BMWs and we'll be putting that to the test on the mountain. We added our carbon front splitter, carbon dive planes (a higher downforce version spawned by this project), and our carbon Ultralight GT rear wing. Because the air is so thin it's typical to see super-large wings or foils on Pikes Peak cars to get as much surface area as they can. While we aren't going that far out of the box to build a mountain specialist, we will maximize our downforce using the typical road racing components also available to our customers. These aero pieces were not originally in the track car build and are not absolutely necessary to make the E92 M3 into an effective and fun track car. They also limit street use. But they are absolutely essential when competing against the clock, whether in a hill climb or in the road racing/time trial environment.

Shakedown / First Test: Summit Point

With the initial build complete we took it to an open track day at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia for a shakedown run. There were no hiccups and the car ran beautifully the whole time. The additional weight reduction made the car faster with better handling and faster response. We can expect tight corners on the Pikes Peak course and Summit Point is a good place to get a feel for that setup with a mix of slow, tight corners and short straights.

Pikes Peak Livery Unveiled

Our Pikes Peak challenger has benefited from the assistance and input of these BimmerWorld technical partners: OPTIMA Batteries, MCS Suspension, Performance Friction, Eibach Springs, MagnaFlow Exhaust, Red Line Oil, CSF Cooling Systems, Epic Motorsports, Hoosier Tire, Lifeline, Schroth, HMS Motorsport, and Rogue Engineering.

Pikes Peak Race Week

Pikes Peak Race Week is underway! James Clay and the BimmerWorld E92 M3 have been practicing all week on different sections of the mountain, improving with every run. In James' own words, "The car is 100% solid and sounds 110% awesome." Hear for yourself with this Instagram video:

Photos from Race Week (click for larger):

We will be posting more photos and videos all week on Instagram and Facebook. Here is a list of helpful links so you can follow the action -
BimmerWorld Instagram
BimmerWorld Facebook
Pikes Peak Official Web Page
Pikes Peak Live Timing Results (Class: Time Attack 1)

Pikes Peak Wrap Up Report

Our OPTIMA Batteries M3 ran flawlessly the whole week. Not a single hiccup. This was proof positive that the best combination of parts, expertise, prep, and people will deliver solid results. This car did not start out as a dedicated Pikes Peak contender. We wanted to stay true to the original concept of a dual-purpose car so that our customers could relate with our goals and turn to our car as inspiration for their own track-worthy E92 M3.

We had a car that handled beautifully and stopped consistently, both of which were needed to give James Clay more confidence to go faster. We were down on power compared to some other cars in the Time Attack 1 class, but we knew that going in. We ran a naturally-aspirated engine, which meant our S65 V8 lost around 35% of its power at the summit (and was already down 15% at the start line). But the package that we built meant we were very reliable and didn't suffer the cooling issues that concerned us the most. And we learned a lot so when we come back in the future we'll have a much better understanding of how to conquer the mountain.

Mountaintop Proving Grounds for OPTIMA Batteries

A single OPTIMA YELLOWTOP battery endured the Ultimate Torture Test in 2017. The same battery was used in the world's top motorsport and powersport events to showcase the technology and toughness of OPTIMA AGM batteries. BimmerWorld participated by using it at the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring in a M235iR and at Pikes Peak in our E92 M3.

Related Videos:
OPTIMA Batteries Ultimate Torture Test at the Nurburgring (BMW M235iR)
More OPTIMA Batteries Ultimate Torture Test videos
OPTIMA Batteries Ultimate Torture Test main page

Bonus Read - "A Rookie's Tale"

The personal account by James Clay, as featured in the January 2018 edition of Roundel Magazine

Product Highlights in our E92 M3 Pikes Peak Build:


Red Line 50WT Racing Engine Oil, Quart

The ultimate engine protection in the most demanding environment

Price: $20.95

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OPTIMA D35 Style 3 Battery Mount Kit - E90/E91/E92/E93

Exclusive BimmerWorld aluminum mount for OPTIMA D35 batteries

Price: $149.99

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BimmerWorld Solid Aluminum Differential Mount Set - E82 1M, E9X M3

Solid diff mounts for dedicated track use

Price: $179.99

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E9X M3 Solid Aluminum Engine & Transmission Mount Set

Fully eliminate powertrain movement with solid aluminum engine and transmission mounts

Price: $199.99

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S65 Oil Dipstick Parts Kit

Install a traditional dipstick on your S65 engine to manually check oil level

Price: $229.99

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OPTIMA 35 REDTOP Battery - 31.7 LBS

Save 10-25 lbs with this advanced high-performance AGM battery for your BMW

Price: $269.99

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BimmerWorld Race Adjustable Rear Upper Wishbone/Camber Arms - E82, E9X (incl M)

Complete rear camber adjustability for track and/or lowered E8X and E9X BMWs

Price: $289.99

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BimmerWorld Solid Aluminum Subframe Mount Set - E82, E9X incl M

Solid subframe mounts to maintain proper geometry in your E9X or E82

Price: $289.99

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BimmerWorld Spherical Rear Guiding Link Set - E82, E9X

Convert from rubber bushigns to spherical bearings for more precise and free suspension movement

Price: $289.99

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E82/E9X Precision Monoball Front Upper Control Arm Bearing Kit

Dramatically improve the braking and turn-entry performance in your street to full-race BMW

Price: $299.99

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BimmerWorld Adjustable Rear Toe Arm Set - E9X M3 & E82 1M

Complete rear toe adjustability for track and/or lowered E8X and E9X BMWs

Price: $299.99

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Carbon Dive Planes - E9X M3

Add frontal downforce to reduce understeer and tire wear

Price: $374.99

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CSF E9X M3 Power Steering Cooler

Dual-pass, 6-row design reduces power steering fluid temperatures for reduced overflow and added system stability

Price: $399.00

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Macht Schnell BMW E9X M3 Stage 2 Intake Charge Kit

Fantastic power gains and sound from this cold air intake at a great price

Price: $399.99

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CSF Engine/Transmission Oil Cooler - E9X M3 (trans), E9X 335i (engine)

More efficient oil cooler to keep faults and limp mode away. Replaces BMW part #17227521376 and 17217564702.

Price: $449.00

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Hotchkis Sport Swaybar Kit - E9X M3 Car Set (Front & Rear Swaybars)

Reduce body roll & understeer for increased handling performance!

Price: $504.68

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CSF Direct-Fit Oil Cooler Upgrade - E90 E92 E93 M3 (2008-2013)

Highly-efficient performance bar/plate oil cooler with direct-fit installation

Price: $599.00

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Radiator, CSF Triple-Pass Aluminum - E9X M3

Three-pass aluminum performance radiator for superior cooling in all high-demand conditions

Price: $599.00

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Epic Stage 2 ECU Race Tune - E9X M3

Proven to provide the most power from your S65 engine - +23hp / +27ft-lbs

Price: $999.00

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BimmerWorld Racing Front X-Pipe by MagnaFlow - E9X M3

X-pipe design improves torque and fits with stock headers

Price: $1,099.99

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BimmerWorld E9X M3 Race Exhaust by MagnaFlow

Lightweight axle-back stainless steel exhaust system

Price: $1,149.99

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E9X Carbon-1_TN.jpg

BimmerWorld Carbon Fiber Dashboard - E9X Sedan/Coupe

Save weight and reduce clutter.

Price: $2,099.99

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BimmerWorld E9X M3 Carbon Splitter/Undertray with Brake Ducts

Full-width track splitter with ducting for serious front downforce and brake cooling on your E9X M3

Price: $2,299.99

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BimmerWorld Ultralight GT Carbon Race Wing

Professional-quality rear wing, 100% carbon element and components, incredibly light and effective

Price: $2,849.99

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MCS Remote Reservoir Coil Over Shock Set - E9X M3

Race-winning damper sets for the ultimate in extreme street to professional-level race performance

Price: $5,830.00 – $7,650.00

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Pikes Peak 2017: A Rookie's Tale by James Clay


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