BimmerWorld Relishes Racing at Its Home Track

August 23rd, 2016

BimmerWorld-Relishes-Racing-at-Its-Home-Track

BimmerWorld Racing hopes for some good luck for the home team as the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge visits its home track of VIRginia International Raceway in Alton, Va., for a 2.5-hour race on Saturday. The Dublin, Va.-based team will field two turbocharged BMW 328i (F30 chassis) race cars in the event, which will be covered live on imsa.com and imsa.tv. The green flag is scheduled to drop at 1:55 PM Eastern time.

James Clay, who founded BimmerWorld in 1997, and Tyler Cooke will share the team’s No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i. Jerry Kaufman and Kyle Tilley are the co-drivers of the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i.

The home team’s drivers have some interesting insights on the nearly 3.27-mile road course and its 17 very diverse turns. The VIR circuit first opened nearly 60 years ago and has raced in its current configuration since 2000. The BimmerWorld team hopes to provide some thrilling action at VIR this weekend along with showing their fans and guests some true Southern hospitality.

James Clay, team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
VIR is your home track. Do you expect many customers to attend? Are you planning anything special for them at this event?

“I have driven, tested, and raced at VIR extensively for the duration of its modern history, and it is a special track. It’s an amazing place to drive, with features that are exciting and intense. It’s one of my favorite tracks to race and one of the best in the country for spectators to watch a race from a variety of scenic vantage points. VIR is not only our home track, but it’s also a special place for us. In addition to visits with our VIR friends and customers, and one of our local sponsors, Grayson Millworks, this is our opportunity to show our non-car friends and families what we do. I’m looking forward to racing Saturday, but I’m almost equally looking forward to our annual crew barbecue that my dad puts on for us. If you want to check out cars on Friday, our paddock is the one blowing hickory smoke!”

How many different kinds of cars have you competed in at VIR over the years?
“I have raced at VIR since its modern reopening, and almost since the start of my racing career, so I have done laps in a huge range of BMWs including proper Touring Cars, ground-pounding V8s, beater track rats, and now our cutting-edge F30 IMSA turbo cars. It doesn’t matter what it is, I love running at VIR and look forward to it every year!”

How well do you think the BMWs are suited for VIR?
“I think we have good BMWs for VIR, but we will know soon. We do a lot of testing there, and the track has a variety of features, so the car needs to do it all well. We have significantly addressed past reliability concerns on the BMW turbo engine this year, and we have shown speed at VIR in testing and in previous years. I think we should see the result we have been waiting for this time around.”

If you had to pick your favorite turn at VIR, which one would it be, and why?
“My favorite section of VIR is the uphill esses. I had a reputation early on of cutting corners and driving through dirt, and it is probably well-deserved because it is fun and the way I like to drive. The uphill esses are perfect for this style in a sedan car, and going flat through this section with four tires in the air is exhilarating!”

How will the fairly new paving at VIR change things?
“We will have minimal time on the new VIR surface, and it certainly means a little bit of finding our way, but it is the same challenge everyone will face, and the basics of the track seem to be consistent.”

Do you have any favorite restaurants or activities you like to do in the area in addition to racing?
“As usual, I am dialed in on the Mexican restaurants in the area, and I am sure we will visit at least one. Past that, VIR also has a variety of shooting ranges and they open those up Thursday night for the IMSA officials and friends, so we look forward to that as well.”

Tyler Cooke, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
What is your history at VIR?

“My first race at VIR was in 2010 with the Skip Barber series. The high-speed esses followed by South Bend, then into the famed Oak Tree Corner, really make the track a difficult one to drive. VIR has so many corners that aren’t like the others. In its mix are blinding, high-speed corners and some big-elevation, slow corners, like Hog Pen. VIR has many corners to watch from, like Oak Tree or Turn 3, that give you a really good experience of the race in front of you.”

If you had to pick your favorite turn at VIR to drive, which one would it be, and why?
“South Bend because it’s high speed and allows no errors. It’s a corner that rewards excellence and punishes doing it wrong.”

You and James are tied for sixth in the point standings with three races remaining. Are these next three tracks (VIR, COTA and Road Atlanta) strong venues for your BMW? Why or why not?
“The next three venues are OK for the BMW. COTA is our weakest, but VIR and Road Atlanta are tracks where we have shown good speed in the past. VIR is the home race for BimmerWorld and Road Atlanta is not too far away, so those are two where we want to do well.”

Do you have any favorite restaurants or activities you like to do in the area in addition to racing?
“The tavern at the track has some really good food, and battling in the go-karts at the track is always fun.”

Kyle Tilley, driver, No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
What is your past experience at VIR?

“Road America and VIR are two of my favorite tracks here in the United States. After the disappointment of not getting to run at Road America, to say I am excited for VIR is an understatement! I have tested several times at the track but only raced there once: the VIR 13-Hour event last year, where Jerry and I won our class! I had to pull off a five-hour stint in the car because Jerry got sick. Hopefully, we’ll have a smoother run this time. Continuing a successful streak at VIR would be fantastic!”

What is your favorite turn at VIR to drive, and why?
“I love VIR’s mix of corners, but it’s the upper and lower esses which really stand out. Every great track has ‘that corner,’ such as Eau Rouge at Spa. Well, for me VIR has the uphill esses! I’m excited to get out there.”

You won your class in the 13-Hour race here last year. Does that experience help you at all for this coming event?
“Having raced here previously in the 13-hour [race] I think will bode well. It was in a car that was not dissimilar to the No. 81. It’s a track I straight away felt comfortable at and winning our class at the 13-hour just helps cement that confidence.”

You’re coming to VIR with a rebuilt car following the Road America crash. What kind of improvements are you looking forward to having for this race?
“Road America was a bitter pill to swallow, we had some upgrades to our No. 81 which I was excited to try! So I am still excited to try them! Obviously, we are going to have to see how things play out with the rebuilt car; however, I have every faith in the BimmerWorld crew and the cars they turn out.”

Do you have any ties to the area?
“I personally have no ties to the area; however, I am very aware that it’s the team’s home event. That, combined with it being one of my favorite tracks, makes this a special event. I am hoping that Jerry and I are able to give the team and the locals a successful showing!”

Jerry Kaufman, driver, No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
What is your past experience at VIR?

“My first time racing at VIR was in 2013 at the 13-hour endurance race with SCCA. I was instantly hooked on the track and the race. I was in a mid-pack car with IMSA Grand Sport cars at the front and Spec Miatas at the back. There was a lot of great racing, as we were battling quite a few cars in class. There were four challenges: 1. Don’t kill the car, it has to race for 13 hours; 2. Pass the cars in your class; 3. Pass the Miatas without losing lap time, and 4. Get passed by the Aston Martin and BMW M3 Grand Sport cars without losing lap time. VIR is the perfect track for this kind of racing. It is a long track with a wide variety of corners that present many different challenges. There are fast parts of the track that are great for passing and fast parts where you wouldn’t dare pass anyone.”

You’re coming to VIR with a rebuilt car following the Road America crash. What kind of improvements are you looking forward to having for this race?
“The incident at Road America was highly unfortunate and did nothing to help us, but we know VIR. Kyle and I did some testing there a few months ago, and the car handled really well. The team has made some improvements to the car, helping with rotation. It’s going to be great to get back in the driver’s seat.”

You won your class in the 13-Hour race here last year. Does that experience help you at all for this coming event?
“I certainly believe so. There are a lot of passing zones at VIR, and the 13 Hour forces you to use all of them at some point or another. Honestly, I wish that I was able to do races like that at every track we visit on the IMSA calendar.”

Do you have any ties to the area? How often do you get to the BimmerWorld shop in Dublin, Va.?
“I’m from northeastern Pennsylvania originally, but I moved my summer residence to North Carolina. Watkins Glen is my home track, but in a few years, I’ll probably consider VIR to be home. I’ve actually been to the BimmerWorld shop many times. Aside from James, I probably get there more than any other driver on the team. It’s a great group.”

You talked about the VIR circuit having fast parts where you can pass and some where you can’t. Talk about the circuit layout and those areas for passing and not.
“Any time you come off a long straight and into a big braking zone, you can pass. That’s most obvious in Turn 1 and Turn 14, but other good places to pass are Turns 7, 10, and 17. They are fast sections that can work depending on your run up the inside. Be careful, though. Some guys might not expect you to pass there, so make sure you communicate the pass, and make sure that you are alongside, not just having your nose past his or her rear bumper.”

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ABOUT: BimmerWorld is renowned as a leader in BMW aftermarket and tuning expertise, and competes in the Continental Tire Series with a pair of BMW 328is (F30) where the Virginia-based outfit has become a routine winner and Championship contender.

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