Five BMWs Competing at SandBlast Rally!

This saturday is Sandblast Rally in Patrick, SC which is sanctioned by Nasa Rally Sport. There are 93 teams running the rally, 47 of which are MOTORCYCLES. Yes you can go flat over crest sideways on a bike on a closed public road and no one will arrest you for it! Even better there will be no oncoming traffic. But the highlight of the rally for me is the 5 BMWs signed up to race. When I started rallying in 2009, there was a 318 floating around but I never saw one On stage. I never had anyone to share parts with or measure my RWD BMW skills against. Well this weekend looks like the East Coast BMW RWD Rally showdown!

If Brakim Racing can keep Matt Brandenburg’s car running he should do really well. Matt’s car is nice but its rally; things blow up and rip off the car at speed that the teams can’t fix in the short service window. And the other 4 BMWs look pretty fast too but Matt has some pretty trick parts on his car. Can you say sequential gearbox? But Lalos Jonas won’t tell us what kind of power he’s running and might have some fun tricks up his sleeve. Let’s take a look a the 5 teams running BMWs this Saturday at Sandblast:

Matt Brandenburg/ Elliot Sherwood: 

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 I’ve known Matt and Elliot for as long as I’ve been playing in rally. They are awesome and tons of fun. If you’re looking for a car to come in way too hot and crazy sideways, Matt is your guy. You’ll stand there thinking he’s going to crash but will need to turn your head to avoid the flying rocks and by the time you look back up he’s gone down the road in a cloud of dust. “Live Life Flat Out” is their motto and its pretty accurate. Matt’s running an E36 M3 with the following specs:

S52 VAC Motorsports spec fully built race motor

6 speed sequential samsonas motorsports transmission
Reiger racing suspension
Cut Pirelli KM6 tires – (Caswell: this is interesting and probably very smart given the sandy terrain at Sandblast)

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Lajos Jonas/ Villa Cseh:

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This will be Lajos’s 7th rally in the US and he’s running an E36 325 with a fully reinforced body(Caswell: Lajos built a really cool chassis that I checked out at NEFR 2014 and I hear its even stronger now). He’s running 3.2 97 M3 engine but with obd1 from 1995. I asked what engine mods he was running and got back “no comment you cannot be serious” Lajos is awesome, love how serious he is about rally. His suspension is from Ksport but the rear struts are of his own design. He’s running very soft tires and when I asked about any special tricks up his sleeve? “No comments . You cannot be serious lol, but if you saw my intake manifold you would pass out hahaha….you are never gonna see it” Lajos makes me happy every time I see him race! In NEFR he was welding a part of his car back to service while working with his codriver Villa on the strategy of the rest of the day. Super cool guy to watch race.

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Jesse Yuvali/ Cengiz Nomer:

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 I first started talking to Jesse like 4 years ago when after my $500 WRC Mexico story was published. He used to rally back in Turkey(I remember correctly) and didn’t realize we had rally in the US. He asked about my car and I told him as much as I could remember. Now Jesse has is own E30 318is but I’m not fully sure of the build specs – we sent word out for details but didn’t get anything back. It looks amazing with the proper motorsport stripes and I think its still an M42 engine but its hard to tell. Jesse builds a lot of cool BMWs down in Florida Maybe its just a regular 318is. Maybe he has S54 under the hood. Or maybe not.  You’ll find his updates on Race Your BMW. https://www.facebook.com/Raceyourbmw

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Michael Hooper/Claudia Pullen:


Michael is old school Rear Wheel drive! He has “owned, driven very fast, and worn-out cars from nearly all manufacturers.” He and Stuart(below) ran their first rally in a Corolla at sandblast in 00 or 01 and actually competed against the same car he is racing this weekend! How cool is that? I asked him why rear wheel drive.  “Rwd yields the most smiles per dollar and e30s are plentiful.” Well the hipsters are taking them down left and right but he’s right. RWD is the most smiles per dollar. AWESOME quote. 

So his car was originally built and raced by Brian flannigan 15 years ago. It’s been gone through top to bottom,  including Jvab suspension and new zf goodies….

Stuart Wood/ Wilson Von Kessler

This will also be Stuart’s 7th rally in the US like Lajos but he’s running an E30.

Wood, Wilson von Kessler, Michael Hooper, and Claudia Pullen run as team which is pretty cool. He actually ran 70’s era Mitsubishi Colts earlier (cute/light/great rally heritage) and decided to move to a somewhat more modern platform with the BMWs back in 2009. They decided to stay RWD because of cost and fun. “Sideways is more fun for us than running at AWD speeds.” These guys are old school rally and really understand what it means to have fun an race at the same time:  We went down the list of options and the e30 was the most affordable, ubiquitous, upgradeable option and it was cool (at least to us).

 

 

Bill Caswellhttp://www.caswellmotorsport.com
Bill Caswell is a self-taught racing driver, mechanic, and fabricator, and rose to internet fame taking a $500 Craigslist BMW to a World Rally Championship event in Mexico in March of 2010. His exploits have featured in places like ESPN Magazine, Grassroots Motorsports, NPR Radio, Wired.com and Jalopnik.com. A lifelong fan of rally and motorsport, Caswell famously believes nothing to be impossible.

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