Out with the old and in with the new: Automatic Racing prepares for 2004 season.
ORLANDO, Fla.- With the 2004 Grand-Am Cup season quickly approaching, Automatic Racing Team Manager Mike McLaughlin has been hard at work getting the team's No. 09 BMW M3 ready for it assault on the Grand Sports class.
Automatic Racing drivers Jep Thornton and David Russell competed in an E36 M3 for most of the 2003 season, running only a few races in the new E46 model. McLaughlin is now getting the E46 prepped for its first full season of racing.
"Basically, I'm just freshening up the car," commented McLaughlin from his race shop in Orlando, Fla. "New wheel bearings, shocks. We want to start with a fresh car for the year. The axles are new, the drive shafts are new. We're replacing things that tend to wear out. The differential was rebuilt, and the transmission was rebuilt. The motor is pretty much new since it was rebuilt."
The Automatic Racing BMW will be sporting a new paint job for the first race at Daytona International Raceway on January 28, so McLaughlin has been concerned not only with how well the car runs, but also how good it looks.
"That's what we're doing now is putting the body back together," said McLaughlin, who works with a painter that is set up next door to the race shop. "We just wheeled it out of the paint booth today. We've got to get the bumpers back on it."
Additionally, McLaughlin is building up Automatic Racing's supply of spare parts for the E46, which is an essential part of endurance racing. He said that, "with it being a new year and kind of a new car, we are developing a spares package that's more complete than what we had with the E36. We're making sure that what was broke, lost or worn out last year gets replaced. Anything that wasn't right last year, we're trying to make it better."
McLaughlin first worked with Automatic Racing during the Watkins Glen race in June of 2003. He joined the team full-time as team manager in September. McLaughlin began working on cars when he was a teenager, taking after his grandfather, who McLaughlin watched work as a child.
McLaughlin's first job in racing was with a team that campaigned the GTU class in IMSA. From there he went on to work with a team that raced a variety of cars, including street stock, World Sports Cars, historics and GT cars. McLaughlin got invaluable experience working on BMW M3s with a team that earned three GT wins during Grand-Am's inaugural season.
Automatic Racing returns to the track January 3-5 for test days at Daytona International Speedway. The first Grand-Am Cup race of the season will be at Daytona on January 28. With the new class structure for 2004, Automatic Racing will now be competing in the premier Grand Sports class.
More information about Automatic Racing can be found on the team's website at www.AutomaticRacing.com.
Automatic Racing is sponsored by Automatic Commercial Aircraft, LandAir, BBS, Engine Music Studios, Redline Oil and Moton Shocks.