BimmerWorld Enters Two ST-Class BMWs In Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge For 2010
* Veteran BMW E90 World Challenge team joins newly named Grand-Am Continental Sports Car Challenge series in the ST class; GS expansion due in late 2010
* Winning team owner/driver James Clay and 3-time 2009 winner Seth Thomas return, joined by ST newcomers David White and Bill Heumann
* Dublin, VA-based BMW tuner continues development of E90 platform in highly competitive ST class with new and existing technical partners
After years of establishing themselves as the top independent team in the World Challenge Touring Car series, Dublin, VA-based BimmerWorld Racing is excited to announce the next evolution of their racing program by tackling a bold new challenge and focusing their efforts on a two-car BMW 328i program in the 2010 Continental Sports Car Challenge series.
With a tally of five Touring Car wins between 2007 and 2009, including three wins by Seth Thomas this past season, team owner/driver James Clay expects to face their stiffest competition yet, as the BMW experts strive to continue their success in a new series.
After building their E90s for the Touring Car series in-house, BimmerWorld amassed four years of experience in developing the 328i for competition. After numerous wins, poles and track records, tackling the ST class with two new E90s will push the team even harder.
While James Clay doesn't expect the transition to be easy, he hopes to show the team's pace from the outset.
"We had great success in 2009 and while I wish we could capitalize on that momentum in those specific cars, I think our team's capability to win will carry over to this new challenge. We have a learning curve with the new format and series rules, but it is my goal to be competitive right out of the box."
Joining the Continental ST class is also a perfect fit for BimmerWorld's corporate and business objectives, according to Clay.
"We built and ran our E90 Touring Cars with a very high level of technical freedom. The result was an amazingly advanced car which pushed us to focus and improve our engineering and development ability. The new ST cars will allow us to apply this same ability toward what I feel is a more typical product line for our customers. Additionally, the endurance format is an even tougher proving ground for both our products and our team. All of this is a direct benefit for our customers."
Clay also says that while BimmerWorld's ST effort will kick off the 2010 season, the addition of a GS program is expected in the latter stages of the year.
"We've placed our entire focus on the ST cars and once we've reached a point where the 328is are following a steady development curve, we'll begin work on at least one BMW E92 for the GS class."
Forming a two-car team, with Clay leading the #80 BimmerWorld/GearWrench BMW 328i and longtime partner Seth Thomas heading the #81 BimmerWorld/GearWrench BMW 328i, the team will introduce two new drivers to professional racing in 2010.
David White, sharing the #80 with Clay, is a familiar figure within the team, having won multiple amateur endurance races with Clay as a co-driver. White, from Raleigh, NC, also brings extensive BMWCCA racing experience to the program, having earned three consecutive national championships with a BimmerWorld-prepared BMW.
Bill Heumann, also a BMWCCA devotee, followed a similar path of success prior to his graduation to Continental ST. Heumann, the reigning BMW I-Prepared national champion earned his title at the wheel of a BimmerWorld-built and maintained BMW E36 M3. The Louisville, KY-native also earned the BMWCCA "Spirit of Club Racing" award for his determined efforts in 2009.
For White, learning the pro racing ropes with BimmerWorld is the culmination of many years of hard work.
"I'm very excited about my move to pro racing and I couldn't think of a better team and co-driver to work with. I've been a part of the BimmerWorld family for a while now, and have won three national championships with their support. I look forward to driving with them in 2010 and beyond. James and I have similar driving styles and setup preferences, so I'm optimistic that this will be a smooth transition for me. My only concern is that I won't be able to see over the steering wheel in a car setup for someone as tall as James!"
Having a role in the development of BimmerWorld's ST-spec E90s is also a challenge White looks forward to.
"BimmerWorld was the first team to race and win in E90s in the U.S. and I'm confident that their wealth of knowledge about the chassis will help us quickly develop our 328s into very competitive ST cars. I can't wait to get testing underway with James and the rest of the team."
Clay says that with White as his teammate, the combo will be ready to hit the ground running at the Daytona season opener in January.
"I was Dave's coach when he started racing and he absorbs everything that comes at him. He has a strong drive to succeed which has led him to become a very talented driver. He is consistent and fast which are the two attributes that win endurance races and while there are some new elements to racing professionally, I expect him to adapt quickly and continue his success as a racer."
For Heumann, having Seth Thomas as a co-driver and mentor is just the kind of environment he knows will allow him to find his feet in such a fiercely competitive series.
"For me, this opportunity is like trying to drink water from a fire hose! There is so much knowledge and experience within the team that one of the challenges for me is to keep focused on those things that will provide the greatest growth in the shortest amount of time. Fortunately, I have some of the best guys in this business to keep me on track. With a co-driver like Seth Thomas, if I give him a solid car on the lead lap, we will do great. My mantra for this year is 'Fast - Consistent - Easy.' It will be primarily within those areas that Seth and I will focus my development."
Like Heumann, Thomas is looking forward to what 2010 will hold for the #81 BMW 328i. On the heels of a breakout 2009 season, the Georgia-native wants nothing more than to return to his winning ways.
"Driving in the Continental Series will be a major challenge, but I know that everything I have learned racing in World Challenge will help me adapt. After winning multiple times in 2009, I know I can win and I know that our new BimmerWorld ST cars can win. I think with the same team, some additional drivers and lots of winning knowledge, we will carry our momentum forward in 2010."
Playing the role of lead driver and mentor to Heumann is also a task Thomas says he looks forward to.
"Bill and I should do really well together. We each have our different driving styles but we both want to learn from each other. I feel that I can help him benefit and improve as the season goes on. We have worked together in the past, and we both came away as better drivers. Don't be surprised if you see the #81 BimmerWorld car running at the front of the pack all season long."
Building the right chemistry with the team has been a major consideration for Clay as his team prepares for the Continental Series. From the drivers to the crew, adding to BimmerWorld's successful club and pro racing foundation has been instrumental as the ST class beckons.
"Everyone within the team, from David, Bill, Seth, to all of our crew members, are familiar with how we approach this business. We've all worked together, pulled all-nighters together and spend time together away from the track. We're a close-knit group, and even though we're moving to a new series, everyone within the organization is a proven winner and we can't wait to show the competition what we're made of."
At the core of BimmerWorld's new Continental ST program is the team's continual effort to educate and graduate new talent up through a ladder system they've developed around the BMWCCA.
With both Clay and Thomas serving as regular driver coaches throughout numerous BMWCCA regions, the two have also worked steadily to introduce BimmerWorld's customers to the world of high performance driving, wheel-to-wheel competition in amateur events with drivers like White and Heumann, all the way up to pro racing.
The success of BimmerWorld's ladder system is something Clay takes immense pride in.
"It is critically important and was a driving factor to this change of direction for our team. The best and most enjoyable part of my job is working with our race customers on their personal programs and development. Unfortunately in the past, we have not had reasonable stepping stones in place to go from a club level to our pro team, so I could only take my customers and friends so far. Now we have a better defined ladder so our customers can start at the BimmerWorld sponsored driver schools, through the BimmerWorld BMW Club Racing School, and through the various types of amateur racing we support and participate in to then advance through the pro levels."
As a product of this ladder system, Heumann can testify to BimmerWorld's ability to develop new drivers from start to finish.
"Seth, James, and Dave have all become close friends while being instrumental in coaching me to success in club racing. I used BimmerWorld to build and develop my race car and have received a great car and invaluable support from Jason Marks and the other crew members at the track and in the shop. They are all top professionals. Their history of success speaks to the skill, competence and dedication of the team."
Thomas also cites his work within the BMWCCA as an ideal way to develop new talent while giving back to the organization where he cut his teeth in auto racing.
"The 'CCA is a big family that's incredibly active in driving education and auto racing. For example, I recently spent a weekend in the local Peachtree Chapter in Atlanta doing a Tire Rack Street Survival School teen driving safety seminar, and that's just a normal part of how we blend the worlds of racing and volunteering within the 'CCA. Like so many BMW fans that follow the Continental Series, I know there will be a lot of 'CCA support behind our efforts at every round."
While the switch from sprint to endurance racing will be a new challenge for BimmerWorld's drivers and crew, the veteran team is eager to adapt to the new pro racing format. Crew chief Jason Marks, now in his 8th season overseeing the team's program at the track, and Wayne Yawn, three years into his position as BimmerWorld's race engineer and strategist, will lead the savvy and hardworking team at each of the twelve ST rounds in 2010.
The two will also oversee the build and development of BimmerWorld's new ST-spec 328is, which Marks says he's enjoying immensely. With two very different sets of rules to work from, the ST E90s have required a fair amount of fresh solutions throughout the fabrication process.
"Certainly the Continental Series cars are a good bit different than the World Challenge cars. The ST cars are considerably closer to a car fresh off the dealership floor, and we are very limited in the extent of purpose-built race parts we can use like the ones we designed for our Touring Car program. It does, however, present an exciting challenge to extract maximum speed and efficiency from a car that's largely stock while using fewer performance components. We are putting every bit of the time, care, and precision into the build and assembly of the new car and parts combination. ST represents another exciting chapter for BimmerWorld to build cars and develop parts that our customers can benefit from, and I can't wait to get our first race underway."
The final component of BimmerWorld's new ST campaign comes in the form of their sponsors and technical partners. While the team will continue with many of its established vendors, the new 328i's will also feature a few names that are new to the program.
"Even more so than before, GearWrench will be at the forefront of proving their durability and efficiency," said Clay. "Our crew can only be as good as the tools they use and GearWrench is a critical partner to our success. aFe will be supplying intakes to allow our cars to breathe easier. In the ST cars we will be able to use the actual parts we sell to our customers which is important to me. Alpinestars is on board to keep our drivers and crew safe and everyone looking good at the same time, which can be a challenge sometimes," he said with a smile.
"Performance Friction is onboard with brake pads and Direct Drive OEM-fit rotors for the ST cars -- the same products we sell to customers," Clay continued. "They will also be providing brake kits as we develop our GS cars. Diffsonline is again building our differentials and we are able to continue on our development program as the diffs will be similar to our previous E90 cars. Powerflex is developing performance suspension bushings for the cars to help them handle, and Red Line Oils are back as the lifeblood of our cars, which the endurance format will stress heavily."
New partners for BimmerWorld's 2010 ST program include wheel and electronics vendors.
"Rays Engineering is new to the team," Clay said, "and we're really excited about that. We are using their forged Volk TE-37 wheel this season which is both very light and very strong. We can't afford to be left limping around with a damaged wheel and I am happy to have Rays and their products on our cars -- and as usual, on our shelves to offer our customers. We are also working with Eric at Electron Speed to provide all the electronics, wiring, and data systems in the new cars. We're growing in every area, and I'm pleased to have the best partners involved at every level."
Following the BimmerWorld Grand-Am Continental Sports Car Challenge Series team in 2010 will be made easy as all of the team's exploits can be found at BimmerWorldRacing.com. Regular race previews, recaps, driver blogs and photo galleries will be offered, as well as further content and fan interaction found on Bimmerforums.com.