I’ve always been a fan of BMW’s, having even built out my E36 325i for STX, so when I started to see Kyle and his E82 128i start taking the SCCA autocross world by storm, I wondered to myself what it took to get the car to this point. What was it like to build and race one of the last naturally aspirated inline 6 modern BMWs? I reached out to Kyle and he was ever so gracious in answering all these questions and more. Welcome folks, to the October 2015 apexjunky Garge Files Euro Edition!
What type of car do you have?
2012 BMW 128i with M Sports Package
A lot of people give their cars nicknames/actual names. Do you have one for the BMW?
I have a nickname but it wasn’t one I created. My car is often named cheater car, mostly because it’s not a common STX car and last year when I won the Toledo Pro in 2014 it was instantly dismissed due to course design. Now any course that has a dig, straight away or any slight advantage that plays to my strength cheater car gets mentioned along with cheater course.
Also, car also is associated with whistle tips #WooWoo because of a muffler delete I performed that caused my exhaust to whistle. I had dual tips on the car, and the total area of the tips was less than the actual single exhaust inlet, so the velocity increased and whistled. It was awful!
Is this car your daily driver? If not what is your everyday car?
The car use to be a daily driver, took it through 2 winters before modifications got to the point where it just didn’t make sense to punish it on a daily basis. I drive a 2016 Honda HRV for an everyday car now. Not as exciting.
Mod List! Let’s have it!
I’m fairly sure I’m forgetting something here but I’ll give it my best:
- TCKline Dual Adjustable Coilovers w/TCK Caster/Camber Plates
- Kosei K8R 17×9 with 255/40 RE-71Rs
- Front/Rear Swaybar
- Recaro SPGs (Ebay Reps) with VAC Mounting Hardware
- Subframe + Diff Bushings
- Diffsonline Custom Differential
- BMW Performance SSK
- Active Autowerke Headers + Tune
- Muffler Delete
- Hawk Brake Pads
- 17lb Battery
- Fender Roll
Without going into too much detail (as we know no one likes to give out every secret ;)) if someone were to come to you and ask you “How can I set up my 128i for autocross on a budget?” what your answer be?
Budget? What is that?! With a BMW you’re expected to shell out some money to get somewhere. Basics to get a light STX trim would be Coilovers + Wheels/Tires. With the weird wheel offsets these cars have, you need coilovers to fit the wheels and tires, and that would be a good starting point. The car really does need a differential. The E-Diff did a fairly decent job on high grip sites (aka like Toledo and Wilmington), but once it hit Lincoln in 2014 it had a ton of wheelspin. Be ready to a lot of hair pulling, frustration, and wanting to ask yourself why in the first place you ever decided to take a 128i and autocross it. It’s not a turn-key car like others in the sport. I would never dare to autocross a 128 in “street” trim, it’s pretty awful.
Have you weighed your car in 128i in STX trim?
Yes I have, currently as it sits the car weighs 2942 lbs with a ¼ tank of gas. Still a pig compared to the rest of the STX field.
With the introduction of the Twins a few years ago, a lot argue that those seem to be the car to have for STX. What made you chose a 128i instead?
I’ve always have been a BMW fanboy. I talked with a couple others and on paper the car looked like it could be competitive. The width is actually smaller than a FRS and RX8, and the small wheel base along with good torque and power made it a nice changeup. I like challenges as well and developing into something so I figured it would be a good chance. Worst case I figured if the car didn’t work out in STX trim it would become a track toy.
BMW’s are known for their handling prowess, but newer models have had their share of electrical and other woes. In all honesty, what’s it like owning and maintaining a hard run BMW?
The car electrical system is weird. It took me 2 years to finally convince myself that changing a battery would not destroy the system. Like E36s where you could go to a 1lb battery, in a modern BMW the electrical demand is such that you’d drain the battery instantly. Along with there is the whole battery registration and coding that had to be changed before I could even try to install the battery.
Besides that I’ve had no issues what-so-ever with the car. It has been a super reliable car, get in and go. The engine is bulletproof. It would make a great daily driver for someone that wants a “sport” car. I’ve never turned a wrench on the car to fix anything yet. Knock on wood….
Many manufacturers seem to support the SCCA and other grassroots racing programs. How do you feel about BMW not offering grassroots level support to the community even though they are still raced today?
It’s frustrating. A couple BMW owners and I were joking at the ProFinale seeing other manufactures giving out $1,000+ in payouts for winning, and we get nothing. Of course we’re not making profits here doing autocross but it would be nice to get some recognition from the company.
Are there any sponsors you would like to acknowledge for their assistance in getting your car to the way that it is?
I’d like to really thank Kale Bushmeyer at TC Kline Racing. His help choosing my suspension (and installation of it) has been such a huge help. Active Autowerke for finally developing headers for the N52 engine, and Dan at Diffsonline for helping me build an amazing differential.
As most of raced cars undergo continuous changes, what are the next plans for the car?
I already have different brake pads sitting in the garage. Getting rid of these Hawk Pads that I finally realized never really liked the car. I already ordered a softer front swaybar to try to get the car to handle better in the sweepers. It’s the biggest negative aspect of the car, it is at a serious disadvantage in sweepers. I’m also going to rework the exhaust to reduce weight and make more power. Lastly I’ll probably finally grab an intake.
Do ever see yourself running more HPDE’s, Time Trials with NASA, or maybe Redline Time Attack instead of autocross?
I’ve actually done a couple HPDE’s with NASA in my Z4M, but autocross is easier to attend at a last minutes notice and doesn’t require extensive planning (except for National events). It seems dumb to say, but to me the cost of track days is kind of a turn off, even though season wide of autocross I probably spend more money and less time in a car.
Do you ever see yourself building something other than your car? If so what would you want to build?
Haven’t really considered the thought of building another car yet; I’ve been really happy with the 128i so far (and the fact that I’m poor from modifying the 128). I’ve had dreams of it turning into the 128i into a DSP car, but it first needs to be classed properly. I really want to try and win a National Championship in STX before I can think about doing something different. I think it would be really cool to be an underdog and win with the car. I mean, it happened this year during the ProFinale. Dreams can come true, right?
Let’s take a ride with Kyle!
Check out some of his vids!