Previously, when I heard the phrase “riding shotgun” it conjured up images in my mind of years gone by, a group of friends all fighting for the privilege of the front seat in a worn out 325e, or Volvo wagon. That’s all changed. I experienced the ultimate in riding shotgun and it has forever changed me.
When BMW Motorsport made the decision to forego the racing development and racing of the E92 M3 GT in Europe it relegated the cars that raced at Le Mans and competed in the VLN to glamour appearances and museum parking. The original plan was to scrap the development chassis as there was no need for it any longer as development had ceased and it had never seen competition so it had no real value. Thankfully that didn’t happen because it had one more role to fill; as a taxi.
After some significant modifications, which consisted of moving all the electronics, rerouting the exhaust and restructuring the cage a passenger racing seat was added along with all the necessary hardware and harnesses. Yes, BMW Motorsport turned a full on endurance race car into a taxi. Unlike the ‘Ring taxi which uses a stock M5, there is very little of this car that is stock. It’s loud, it smells like burnt racing fuel and its quick.
The M3 GT recently raced its last ALMS race at Road Atlanta for the season and more than likely forever.
The M3 GT (originally GT2) should not be confused with the race cars offered from the factory to customers for racing, the GT4 and GTS are those products. The M3 GT is built to the specifications of the ACO (Le Mans) for entry into the Grand Touring class, it shares some components with the street car, looks similar but is a pure bred racing machine.
The engine, known internally as the P62, is based on the high revving S62 M produced powerhouse. It remains 4 liters in displacement but has reworked internals including a flat planed crank. Horsepower is up over the stock machine to around 470 hp depending on what size restrictors the racing series requires. Shifting is through a sequential flappy paddle system with an Xtrac 6 cog transmission out back.
The braking and suspension are bespoke to these cars and are the biggest changes outside of the safety cage and exhaustive use of carbon fiber to bring the weight down by about 800 pounds over the street car.
As a passenger with BMW Motorsport works driver Dirk Adorf behind the wheel one thing became quite clear from my nomex suit and helmet, braking was painful. Hockenheim has some long straights that allow the car to get up to high speeds but also has hairpin turns that require full braking. The cornering and braking abilities what were most different from standard issue M3. It is amazing how much stregth it required when cornering to just hold onto the camera, similar to a roller coaster this machine pulls serious G’s on the sticky racing slicks it was wearing.
I’ve been on tracks in amazing cars with equally amazing drivers behind the wheel but nothing comes even close to this experience, all I can say is that I have a new found respect for these guys. They race these cars for hours on end on some of the world’s toughest tracks and I was battered after a few laps.