Yost Autosport #YAE92 M3: Part 1 – We Officially Void the Warranty

by Mike Bonanni

The BMW M3 has long been touted as one of the best production sports cars ever and I would have to agree. From the current generation’s 4.0L S65 V8 to the fine Bavarian leather upholstery, everything about the BMW M3 exudes perfection. This is why it made perfect sense to tear one completely apart. Enter Project #YAE92, and yes I do pronounce the hash tag. To make a long drawn-out story short, this project is the brainchild of two race car drivers; myself and a good friend of mine Jordan Yost. Both of us have had our ups and downs over the years trying to make it to the professional ranks of North American sports car racing, neither of us ever quite getting the opportunity we were after to go racing in the big name series like Grand-Am or ALMS.  After another failed start-up race team Jordan and I worked on together for someone else, we decided it was time to throw a Hail Mary and start our own race team for once.

While we don’t have the budget to go racing in Grand-Am, or if you’re reading this in 2014 the United Sports Car Racing series, we wanted to build a car that we could grow with.  To us, the E92 M3 was really the only choice.  There are many platforms we could have chosen from but we both have fond memories of racing BMWs in the past and as a street car the E92 M3 is, in our opinion, a much better platform to start with than many of the other cars you see running well in Grand-Am.  It’s proven, it’s fast, and it fits well in grassroots endurance racing as well as the pro levels.  We will be building our car for 2014 to the rulebooks of both the N.A.S.A. Western Endurance Championship as well as NARRA Road Racing Enduro series.  Classes in this series revolve primarily around power to weight ratio rather than a list of spec parts meaning we could do pretty much whatever we wanted with the build and we would still fit in a class based on what our car weighs and how much horsepower it’s making to the rear tires.

The nicely appointed power and heated leather seats were the first thing to go once we started gutting this pristine example of an E92 M3.  You can see here this car was fully equipped with navigation and every other upgrade imaginable, all of which will not be re-used but will provide us with some things to sell in order to recoup some of the money we’ve spent.

But before we got into the fun go-fast stuff we needed to start out with the stuff that’s absolutely necessary to go racing…safety equipment. The first item on that list was a roll cage, but there’s a lot of planning and thought that goes into every aspect of building an endurance racing car so it wouldn’t be as simple as showing up with a car and a rulebook and telling your cage builder to get to work.  We had to keep in mind budget, flexibility, weight, and safety.  Thinking about budget we decided to prep the car for the roll cage ourselves instead of paying a fabricator to do it for us.  We race car drivers are incredibly good at taking things apart and breaking stuff so that’s precisely what we started doing.

We started by removing all the interior we could down to the bare sheet metal , even going as far as un-plugging all of the electrical connections to the wiring harness and moving all of the wiring toward the front of the car so it would be out of the way.  We didn’t just yank wires and computers out though, we are a tad smarter than that.  We made sure we labeled everything so we could remember how to put it back together later. At this point it was time to order our first parts for the car and we did so through our friends at Fontana Nissan Parts.  Why would we get parts for our BMW from a Nissan dealership’s parts department?  Well they have excellent customer service and its run by a friend and fellow racer.  The parts we ordered were the driver’s seat and mounting hardware as well as steering wheel and hub. We ordered these first so we could get our ideal seating position set before the cage was built so our cage builder could make sure everything fit properly with the cage in. With the interior void of anything bolted or clipped to it and the driver’s seat in place, the last step was to remove all of the factory glass to give the cage builder more room to work as well as remove the possibility of it getting broken during the process.

We made sure to gut the doors and cut away any excess metal we could in order to give the cage builder room to build out the driver’s side door bar into the void. This is not only a safety benefit but it also makes it easier to get in and out quickly during a driver change. We left a little lip on the door so we didn’t lose too much rigidity and smoothed it down so it wouldn’t cut anyone or snag our driving suits as we’re rushing through the driver changes.
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Wednesday, September 25, 2013 8:12 AM
There's a reason everyone else's race cars are white inside... You'll find it out the first sunny day you race. ;)
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 10:14 AM
I hate white interiors on racecars. Way too much reflection on the windshield and directly into my eyes, and the constant cleaning of rubber marks (back when I cared, of course) is annoying. As far as heat goes, I don't think it'll make hardly any difference in temps with no windows.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 1:23 PM
I'm going to guess they'll be putting in some windows at some point., maybe lexan. Without knowing the rules they race under a windshield is probly required, maybe a rear window (and for aero they'd probly want one anyways). Side windows could be lexan or just window nets. But I'd bet the white vs black difference would be noticeable on a hot sunny day, I could be wrong though.
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 2:32 PM
Buy a $70K+ car and immediately strip it because race car?!

I approve!
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 2:46 PM
Good luck with this self funded build. I am interested to see how the build progresses over time, especially in regards to the suspension and engine... as well as what the end product will be like on track.

Some of those welds shots made me skip a breath.

On another note, I sure would like to see some in depth looks at timeattack cars on MotoIQ.....
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 3:21 PM
I wouldn't necessarily suggest white, but I've been in a blacked metal car in the dead of summer, and I didn't even have a firesuit on, but I'm pretty sure there was an inch of sweat in the footwell.

Granted, it was a budget racer, so no proper venting and such, plus full windows, but it was too much regardless.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 6:17 PM
We did think about temperature in the car when choosing the color but when looking at the schedule we realized that the majority of the races we plan on running will be held at night or in the cooler months. Our longest race, the 25 Hours of Thunderhill is held in December. We also figure the color itself probably wont have too much effect but it could be something to test down the road. It's easily changed if need be.

The car will eventually have lexan windows all around except for the doors which will remain windowless per series rules. We have already made the windows, but we're keeping them off the car until very last as it comes in handy not to have them when you're working around in the interior doing wiring and things like that. Plus having them removed negates the chance of them getting scratched or messed up while the car is transported, worked on, etc.
Thursday, September 26, 2013 7:35 AM
So after completely destroying the interior was there any significant cost recovery? I know that much of the E92 M3 interior is worth a small fortune to the right buyer. Obviously not enough to fund the build but maybe the new seat and wheel?
Thursday, September 26, 2013 7:38 AM
35lbs in wiring.... crazy! I actually saw some development work in changing the wiring material to reduce weight.

A friend of mine has the sedan M3 and that engine is something else. I can't wait to see how this turns out.

@eeeen, MotoIQ has covered a number of time attack cars. Nemo, Scorch Racing S15, Turbosmart FC, David Kern's Pikes Peak/TA Evo, just off the top of my head. The GST L car back in the day. Cobb Tuning GTR a few years back.
Thursday, September 26, 2013 8:38 PM
Protodad - So far we are still trying to sell a lot of it but the pieces we have sold have paid for the seat/steering wheel and actually a good chunk of the roll cage.
Monday, September 30, 2013 3:48 PM
Sweet baby Jesus, nothing like taking an expensive car and gutting it out. Thanks for the build on this.

spdracerut, I've gone to the extent of replacing the factory wiring with MS22759/44 wire. It's about 2/3 the weight of typical automotive grade wire as the jacket is much thinner and the wire is silver coated so you can run a slightly smaller gauge wire for the same current capacity (still have to be mindful of voltage drop on some lines and can't downsize everywhere). Sourced all the OEM pins too so I could use the OEM connector bodies. Took FOREVER to find the contacts and then do the work, probably 150+ hours total into it and all told, probably saved like 5-7 pounds over just sticking with the OEM wires but removing the unneeded stuff.
black bnr32
black bnr32link
Monday, September 30, 2013 6:42 PM
any more details on why you chose this chassis?
Tuesday, October 01, 2013 10:21 AM
black bnr32 - There was so many conversations and reasons that went into choosing the E92 that I could literally write an entire article on just that subject. To simplify it as best I can.
- It's marketable and interesting to sponsors and fans.
- It looks good, sounds good, and has a good aftermarket.
- There aren't many in between regular track day cars and Grand-Am cars.
- It has a higher initial cost but we won't need to do a $100k build to fit into the class and series we want to run.
- We both love the chassis and engine as far as driving them on the track goes.
- It's fast enough to be interesting to us, sponsors, MIQ readers, etc.
- We will be able to get excellent fuel mileage and reliability since we don't have to add a ton of horsepower over stock to fit into our class.
- We both are big fans of BMW and both have experience with other BMW chassis.
- It's not another Miata or E36.
Tuesday, October 01, 2013 10:38 AM
@ spdracerut

I never said motoiq has never covered any TA cars, lol, I said "I sure would like to see some in depth looks at timeattack cars on MotoIQ....."

I have not seen a TA car on motoiq in awhile, I would like to see some more TA cars... or updates on some TA cars.

CONTINUE to cover TA cars/events.
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