Drivers Rhett Hubertus and Terry Sayther, with chase car driver Phil Hartman (not shown), race-prepared a $400 BMW 325 beater and finished seventh overall, first in class, in the three-day Chihuahua Express.
Follow longtime BMW CCA member Terry Sayther’s report through the weekend in his $400 racecar (a 1988 E30 325i), preparing for (by racing in Mexico) the upcoming 24 Hours of LeMons. Yes, LeMons, not LeMans. Check back for more from the Chihuahua Express, a three-day open road race in western Mexico, the weekend of April 21.

Terry Sayther with Rhett Hubertus and Phil Hartman, BMW CCA
April 23, 2007
Sunday, April 22, Chihuahua City to Ojinaga at the Texas Border (and back) -- It’s the last day of the race. Our clutch is failing. It engages at the top of the pedal travel, typical of worn out disc behavior. But amazingly, once it engages, it seems to stick tight. Additionally, I am sick. I awoke early with a nasty headache which has not let up. I am feverish and my stomach is not happy. Press on regardless, they say.
Our driving technique in the speed stages has to be a little different now because of the clutch. At the start, I slowly let out the pedal, and as we begin to creep forward I can finally accelerate away and we're off to the races. Upshifts are normal so far, but downshifts are a bigger strain on the clutch and require hesitation for rpm matching to get the clutch to hook up.
Our trusted assistant, Phil Hartman, is following us in the truck today, since we expect the clutch to fail at any time. Obviously we are not optimistic. Throughout the first stage we discover that we are almost able to race normally---though we are certainly loosing a bit of time by shifting less. I'm not able to utilize the just the peak of the torque curve this way, but the engine is pretty tolerant of abuse. Today's schedule has tolerant long speed stages in each direction.
Day three, afternoon: growing (cautious) optimism
By mid-day, we have changed from pessimistic to cautiously optimistic. By the start of the return runs in the afternoon, the clutch has to have a pause at each shift to allow it to catch and we can't downshift very much. Once it locks up, it stays locked up, fortunately. My head is still hurting badly, my helmet and uniform are sweat soaked, and every set of S-curves make me have to consider what vomiting in an enclosed helmet will be like. Pressing on. Curiously, being miserable seems to have an odd way of concentrating my attention during the speed stages, and we seem to be very fast. The transits are more of a constant struggle to stay awake.
In the last few speed stages the timing people have been muttering to us about how fast we're going and that we're catching the racers in front of us. After surviving the final speed stage, the timing guys congratulate us and tell us that unofficially we are only seconds behind the Viper. Can that be?
[B]First in class, fifth overall[/b[
Well, it turned out to be true. We finished first in class and 3rd place overall today just 3 seconds behind the second place Viper of Jerry Churchill!
Our overall finish for the three days was first in class and fifth overall. We still don't really believe it, but it certainly proves the budget racer concept. Good preparation, great tires, good car, good navigation, adequate driving---all combine to make our racing experiment a success.
What else have we learned? You can certainly have a blast in a cheap racecar! And you can even win! We have argued again the merits of E30 vs. E28, and I think we could have had the same success with an E28 535i.
This was the first running of the Chihuahua Express and it will hopefully not be the last. It was a great event. Chacho Medina, the race organizer, hopes for double the entrants next year and we see no reason he won't get them. We raced hard for 600-plus km on public highways over three days, and we are worn out. This is real racing and a lot of it. We'll be back.
But in what? We finished ahead of both modern and older racecars in a piece of junk M20 powered e30----just think what a real BMW would do. Pick ANY M3 and to be a race winner! What would be the most fun? Maybe your car....

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Project Lemon Bimmer blog, Day 2 racing: Moving up from last to 7th
Follow longtime BMW CCA member Terry Sayther’s report through the weekend in his $500 racecar, preparing for (by racing in Mexico) the upcoming 24 Hours of LeMons. Yes, LeMons, not LeMans. Check back for more from the Chihuahua Express, a three-day open road race in western Mexico, the weekend of April 21.
Terry Sayther with Rhett Hubertus and Phil Hartman, BMW CCA
April 21, 2007
Saturday, April 21, Chihuahua City to Divisadero, Copper Canyon –There are some highly experienced road racers here and this morning I asked some of them for help with a problem I´ve been having with our car while racing. It seems that while fully suited up with Nomex racing uniform and gloves on, I´m having trouble with the small size of the electric window and AC buttons. You´d think that their greater experience would have lead them to a cure for this simple problem, but they were not helpful.
Today´s events spanned 11 hours of driving. Here´s a typical slice of that time. We start by transitting: driving on public roads at something like normal speeds along with regular normal traffic. This trasit stage ends at a checkpoint where we are given a time to write down.
We then proceed to another checkpoint nearby that is the start of a ´´speed stage,´´ a public road blocked off by the police for our temporary use. Speed stages are chosen for their challenge for the drivers, but they also have to have acceptable racing surfaces. Of course it must be possible to close the road to outsiders during the event.
Each speed section is run by every car that is able to get to its beginning within a 15 minute window; break down more then that length of time and you will miss that stage. Cars are waved away at 1 minute intervals and after every 5 or so cars medical and official cars run through the stage making sure all is well. At the end of the stage the cars pass the final timing point at speed, then stop to have their times recorded. At that point they commence a transit section to get to the next speed stage.
10 speed stages, 202 km of racing, 610km altogether
Today we raced 10 speed stages, some only a few minutes, some 30 minutes or more long, for a total of 202km of speed stages, 610km altogether. The roads chosen for speed stages today were VERY challenging -- both from a standpoint of achieving maximum speed, but also from a brake conservation angle. Knowing that today would tax the E30 brakes, we did what we could to use engine braking to help slow the car. The result? Our clutch now feels ready to fail. We nursed it back into town, and we really didn´t feel like we lost much time.
We had another problem today --- in one stage the engine began to violently cut in and out. After the next checkpoint we stopped and found that the main relay was loose and falling out of its socket. Problem solved and fast!
Terminal speed, 148 mph
Another surprise came today in a long downhill straight speed section when the Lemon got up to 148mph indicated speed! If anyone anywhere had told me that was possible, I would have said they were hitting the wacky weed again. UNBELIEVABLE!
We had a great day, and we felt like we were about as fast as we could possibly be. There were not so many problems today with other cars, the one Mercedes bottomed out and lost its oil pan and suspension. They will not be driving back to Virginia tomorrow... Ooops!
Divisadero, our mid-point and lunch stop today lies at the top of Copper Canyon. Barranca del Cobre in Spanish is a spectacular canyon, actually bigger and deeper then our Grand Canyon. A truly beautiful site.

From listed last Friday to 7th overall
Yesterdays official results, you´ll remember, had us listed last in class and last among running cars due to a large scoring error. Today brings a change --- 1st in class awards to both Rhett and I. Also today we have an award) in the IRONY department, I´m sure) for ¨Best Appearing Car¨ by default in the 1966-1990 class, where we were the only entrant. Amazingly enough, we were 5th fastest overall today, and with the correction to yesterday´s times we are 7th overall for the 2 day´s total. WOW!
Racing, Day 1 blog: Chihuahua City to Divisadero, Copper Canyon