Articles: BMW 325i M-Spec E36 – Rent-a-Racer – 227

Ever dreamed of heading off for a spot of motor racing, only to come crashing back to reality as you stare into empty garage space? Well, here’s your chance to realise that dream

Turnkey Motorsport Limited now has a fleet of race-prepared BMWs available for enduros, club days, tarmac rallies and the BMW Open Class racing series.

There’s even an opportunity to have your name and company logos emblazoned down the sides of the car so they can be flashed before the eyes of spectators, business owners and team members at major motor sport events throughout the year.

The brains behind the operation are David Taylor of Motorsport Services, Peter Martin, Targa NZ’s main man, and Greg Paul of Rally Tours NZ. These three men have pooled their talents and resources to create Turnkey Motorsport.

The philosophy behind the venture was born from a need to increase the number of international competitors in Targa events, given the current economic climate and the effect it would have on the number of local competitors. As the concept of increasing international interest was expanded it became obvious that the biggest obstacle would be the shipping of overseas competition vehicles into and out of New Zealand — a potential drawback for those wishing to travel to New Zealand to compete in Targa NZ.

With this in mind, the idea was born to build a number of identical cars that could be used in Targa and other events.

As such, they looked towards the BMW E30 class, which continues to be a real success story in NZ motor sport. The goal of this series is to allow new people to participate on an equal footing to more seasoned competitors at an affordable level. The natural progression of this class was to the E36 BMW. So, Turnkey Motorsport’s decision to settle on three BMW 325i M-Spec E36s was a no-brainer.

Each car is basically identical, and received a major make-over courtesy of the world-class automotive team at Motorsport Services. In order to make the cars safe, reliable, and as competitive as possible the interiors of each BMW received a fully homologated roll-cage, six-point harnesses and race seats, a Monit trip meter and Stilo intercom system. The handling department was taken care of with the installation of fully adjustable coil-over suspension with single way adjustable shocks, adjustable shock mounts and adjustable camber bars. DTM 17 by eight-inch wheels shod with Dunlop tyres round off the package very nicely.

Under the bonnet, performance was significantly enhanced with the addition of an ECU chip, larger throttle body, modified headers and exhaust system, a lightweight flywheel and race-style clutch.

Lightweight bumpers were also added to keep things as light as possible.

Cheque Book Racing

The cars have been extensively tested in the North Island endurance series at Pukekohe and Taupo before they where debuted at Targa Rotorua in June 2009.

With the testing now complete, the target audience is initially aimed at US enthusiasts. Ex-pat Kiwi, Gavin Riches, is on hand to test and promote the overall ‘turnkey’ concept with small groups of potential customers in the USA. The total experience is important, not just the vehicle and competition. Each member of the team, David Taylor, Peter Martin and Greg Paul, brings a level of experience from their chosen field, and together they have provided a full turnkey experience — from accommodation to transportation — allowing clients to focus on enjoying themselves.

Basically, turn up with your cheque book, drive and have fun.

During the testing of these BMWs, the Turnkey Motorsport team discovered there was a lot of interest from within New Zealand, and so another market was identified — one accommodating those who don’t have the time or inclination to own and prepare their own vehicle, but would like to participate occasionally in weekend track events. Turnkey Motorsport can now provide packages for most budgets.

Dunlop Targa NZ

In February 2008, Peter and Vicki Martin took over the reins of Dunlop Targa NZ, with the intention of taking the event to the next level by increasing its profile and adding to the enjoyment for everyone involved. Regarded as being one of the country’s premier motor sport events, this year’s Dunlop Targa NZ is shaping up to be another action-packed affair, and not to be missed. The team from NZCC is looking forward to providing our readers with a full, blow-by-blow account of each day’s activities on (and off) the circuit, so keep an eye out for next month’s issue.

Comprehensive Package

Turnkey Motorsport Limited has put together an outstanding ‘come and go racing’ package tailored specifically for the Dunlop Targa NZ. Not only is it aimed at international competitors, but also local drivers wishing to have a go, without the expense of owning and maintaining a Targa car.

These comprehensive packages, which can be tailored to suit individual requirements, include a variety of options such as Dunlop Targa entry fees, one-day driver tuition and local track familiarisation, including MotorSport NZ licensing and testing. All vehicle servicing and running costs are met, and drivers get a dedicated support crew and a chance to be part of a larger team with other local and international competitors.

For those keen to capture actual footage of the event, in-car cameras are also available. After all, where else do you get to push a car to its limits on fantastic roads as you blast past some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world without having to worry about police or speed cameras.

It doesn’t just stop there either, five star accommodation is offered on the days leading up to the event, three star accommodation during it, and higher where available to rest up after a gruelling day’s excitement. All meals during Targa are provided in the package. You even get to keep your own commemorative jacket and shirts as a permanent memento.

You don’t have to worry about your ‘handbrake’ either — if your partner is not in the least bit interested in watching you haring around the countryside at break-neck speed, then there’s the opportunity for them to be whisked off and pampered and indulged in high style.

Driving Experience

The morning we arrived at Motorsport Services the first thing I noticed was not only the line up of its M-Spec Beemers — which we were about to get behind the wheel of — but the fine array of other cars at various stages of build. It was abundantly clear that these guys were on the ball, creating race cars for people who want to concentrate on their racing, leaving the preparation, logistics and infrastructure in very capable hands.

I also learned that this team has over 20 years of experience running race cars, at all levels from club to Formula One. Sports and GT cars, in particular Porsche, Audi, BMW and Nissan are its specialty, with first hand experience running multi-car endurance teams in such events as Sebring and the Daytona 24-hour.

So, it was hardly surprising that these M-Spec BMWs were flawlessly prepared — ready for Targa action.

I wandered over to the first car in the line thinking to myself, I wonder which is the best one, only to discover that I couldn’t really tell the difference between them, so I just climbed into the first one. It took a while mind you, I’m not as flexible as I once was, and I’m a little wider in girth as well, which didn’t help either. However, once I had everything positioned, arms and legs where they should be and safety harness buckled up, I hit the starter and the in-line six snapped into song immediately. From the throaty exhaust note, I knew that this was going to be fun, as we headed off in convoy to a nice quiet reserve for some photographs. To say we caused a few sideways glances along the way was an extreme understatement as the three bright orange, fully Targa prepared BMWs trundled though Whangaparaoa township. It must have been a fairly impressive sight.


The car I was driving felt supremely comfortable, even though the interior was stripped to the bare bones and yes, it had the odd shake and rattle, but I felt I could have stayed in it and driven to Wellington. The engine was well tuned and responsive, especially in the lower gears as the fairly rapid acceleration caught me unawares on more than one occasion. Handling was superb; the Motorsport Services team had obviously done its homework here, as the car felt totally controllable even in the short bursts I was able to experience. The complete suspension, wheel/ tyre combinations really made me feel I was driving a seriously competitive piece of kit.

Okay, you’re probably not going to take out overall Targa honours in one of these cars, but I can guarantee that the drivers of these BMWs will have the best time of their lives trundling these puppies around the North Island.

Turnkey Motorsport has definitely filled a gap in the market and, given the tough economic times over the past 12 or so months, has provided an outstanding opportunity for anyone keen enough to participate in what many consider to be New Zealand’s premier motor racing event — with or without all the trimmings such as service crews, pit crew support and hospitality.

So — you don’t have to stare at that empty garage space and dream any longer!

Words: Ashley Webb Photos: Adam Croy

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