Race Class Profile: Spec E30

By Bradley Iger

July 21, 2014

For those looking to get into some Bavarian wheel-to-wheel racing action, the Spec E30 race class is a fantastic option. Focusing on spec-built, second generation BMW 3-Series coupes and sedans, the Spec E30 class offers an alternative to Spec Miata and Spec Racer Ford classes for those looking to try something a bit different. With relatively low costs to build and run, along with the spec build requirements, Spec E30 rewards driver skill above all else. Here's a rundown of the details of both the series and the car itself:
Sanctioning Bodies:
Race Format: Sprint
Typical Race Length: 30 to 50 minutes
Car Type / Production Dates: BMW E30 1985-1991 (coupe or sedan)
  • BMW "M20 B25" 2.5-liter straight six cylinder from the 325i or 325is models. Engines are basically stock but may be rebuilt using a 0.20 overbore.  Balancing is allowed. 
Output: 162 horsepower (maximum)
Weight: 2700lbs (with driver)
Data System: Unrestricted
Chassis Construction: Unibody
Suspension Adjustability:
  • Non-coilover suspension with spec Bilstein shocks, spec H&R Springs, and spec sway bars. Front camber plates allowed and rear adjustable camber allowed. 
  • Shimming of coil springs allowed (to corner balance). Camber is open.  Toe open.  Wheel spacers are allowed but have max width constraints.
  • Limited adjustments – rear sway bar is adjustable, front sway bar is fixed.  
Tire Size: 205/50R15 Toyo RR (spec tire) / Toyo RA-1s (spec treaded tire)
Aero: Stock front OEM-style air dams only.
Special Features
  • Limited slip rear differentials and front brake ducting is allowed. Braided brake lines allowed. Front and rear strut bars allowed. Poly suspension bushings and poly engine mounts allowed. Cooling systems are open. Brake pad compounds are open. Steel brake rotors are allowed, and can be cross drilled, but must match OEM spec. Clutches are open. 
  • Spec exhaust system is required. 
  • Flywheels must be stock. 
Car Cost: $8,000-$12,000 (used), $15,000-$18,000 shop build (includes donor car)
Typical Car Count Range: 15-25 cars per race, depending on region/event
Participation Growing or Declining: Growing
Strongest Regions:
Weekend Run Cost:
  • Tires – Should last approximately 2.5 race weekends (about 15 heat cycles).
  • Engines – Some have been reported to last up to 7 full seasons between rebuilds (fresh head, new cam, re-ringed bottom end with original bearings/pistons).
  • Fuel –  A race weekend usually requires about 15 gallons. 
  • Brakes – Front brake pads/rotors should last 2-3 weekends, rear brake pads will usually last an entire season.  
Based on the factors above, a race weekend should range between $800 to $1200 including entry fees. Lodging and trailering costs should also be considered. 
Crossover Classes:
  • PRO3 E30: A non-spec BMW E30 racing series in U.S. Northwest region. 
Record Lap Times/Tracks:
  • Barber Motorsports Park - 1:46.700 - Jared Stoops - 2/15/14
  • Buttonwillow CCW #13 - 2:07.038 - Steven Stepanian - 4/05/14
  • Gingerman Raceway (Long Configuration) - 1:49.415 - Ryan CieChanski - 8/18/13
  • Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca - 1:47.881 - Shawhan Racing - 6/07/13
  • Road Atlanta - 1:42.618 - A.R. Hoshmandy - 9/15/13 
Shops Providing Support:
Shops Providing Arrive & Drive Rental:
Here's a clip of Robert Grace mixing it up with our man Mike Skeen during a Spec E30 NASA Mid Atlantic race at Virginia International Raceway. Their fastest laps were separated by a .06 second margin:


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