BimmerWorld Shows Its Muscle at Road Atlanta


BimmerWorld Racing’s No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i led more laps than any other Street Tuner (ST) car in Friday’s season finale for the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (ICTSC) series at Road Atlanta, and it set the second-fastest lap of the 2.5-hour race for that class. Unfortunately, it lost oil pressure just 20 minutes from the checkered flag and didn’t finish, leaving team owner James Clay and co-driver Tyler Cooke in 20th position but bolstered with the knowledge that they were definitely contenders.

Jerry Kaufman of Mooresville, N.C. and Kyle Tilley of Bath, England finished 12th in the Dublin, Va.-based team’s second BMW 328i, the No. 81. Kaufman focused on keeping the car out of trouble and stayed around 15th place during his stint. Tilley did the same during his time behind the wheel, and it paid off when their car was able to rise to 12th at the end.

Cooke, of Matthews, N.C., set the No. 84’s fastest lap of the race on lap two with a time of 1:37.110 for the 2.5-mile, 12-turn road course near Atlanta. That was almost a second faster than the time the car turned in earning the sixth qualifying spot (1:38.025) on Thursday, and it was just 0.060 off the fastest lap of the race turned by any ST car.

Although the team’s two BMWs (F30 chassis) are among the heaviest cars in the class, their turbocharged engines loved the crisp autumn air that greeted Road Atlanta fans this year, and Cooke was able to vault from sixth to third before the end of the first lap. He was also able to take the lead on lap six when both he and the second-place driver passed the pole-sitter.

Cooke enjoyed a 1.247-second advantage almost immediately. He was able to stretch that margin to 6.484 seconds until a full-course yellow flew on lap 35 for a Honda Civic that was dragging a bumper. Cooke led through lap 38 until he pitted for Clay to take over near the halfway point under that yellow flag.

Clay ran in the top five for most of his stint, trying to conserve both fuel and his Continental tires, but the Blacksburg, Va.-based driver was unable to see it pay off when the mechanical difficulties forced him into the pits just shy of the finish.

The team is already working towards the 2017 season opener and will test at Daytona Saturday.

Friday’s race will be shown on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, Oct. 9 from 11 AM until 1 PM Eastern time.

James Clay, team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“It was a nice cool day. When things are cool, it’s good for the turbos. We’re generally pretty happy. I wish it was like this all the time. I wish every day was 70 degrees and gorgeous like it was today.

We had a great race. Tyler did an incredible job. Unfortunately, we got that yellow. We were hoping to have a bit of a lead; a little bit of an advantage. It always takes us a little while to put the amount of fuel we need in this car so we lost a couple spots there, but we had a fantastic car. We just nailed the setup. The way the track changed with the weather, we just fell into the right thing. It was good over the duration [of the race], or the car came to us. I’m not sure which, but late in the race, we had a car to run to the front. I don’t know that we could have won it, but I feel pretty sure we could have been standing on the podium.

Unfortunately, it got slippery and I thought ‘Man, somebody is dropping oil,’ and then I realized that it was me. I was the one oiling the track, so we came in and just parked it.

But we were certainly a contender. I don’t mind finishing the season and putting it on the trailer in winning shape.”

Tyler Cooke, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“It was actually a really great day. It’s usually raining at the Petit Le Mans, so it was actually nice to have a nice cool, dry day. I came down with a cold yesterday, and I’ve been dealing with a sore throat and a fever while I was in the car.

I was happy to pull out a lead like I did. I was hoping to have it stay green because we were looking great if it had stayed green. The yellow set us back to third when we took the green. James drove a great stint, but, unfortunately, it just ended in smoke. I have no idea what happened to the car yet. Unfortunately, our day ended with 25 minutes left. It was a really strong run at the end of the year, so it’s kind of heartbreaking, but we’ll get them at Daytona.”

Jerry Kaufman, driver, No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“I couldn’t have asked for any better weather for the season finale. Literally, it was a perfect day here at Road Atlanta, and the car just loved it.

We started off in the middle of a lot of mayhem. We kept our nose clean and we had better pace than everybody else around us. One by one we picked them off. I had a couple of interesting on-track incidents around me and lost a couple places, but we had the pace, so we got everything back and moved up quite a lot.

I wish that yellow hadn’t come out because we were getting ready to pass some more cars. The turbo just loves this cool weather, and we haven’t had it in the last four races. It was great to have that in our bag.

We had a little bit of a mess up in the pits, and it cost us quite a lot of places. Kyle drove well. I guess he had some issues, but the car was great for me. I had a great time out there. I couldn’t ask for a better way to finish the season.”

Kyle Tilley, driver, No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“The race was relatively uneventful, actually. We had a great car at the start of my stint, but it gradually went away from us. I think it probably was the same for everybody out there, but we seemed to struggle especially.

We knew we were tight on fuel, so we really had to concentrate on saving fuel. I think a P12 result was about all the car had today. It’s not a bad result, but a top five would have been nice to finish the year. But it is what it is, and I’m not unhappy at all.

Jerry did a fantastic job with his stint. We were looking pretty good. It wasn’t a bad race, but it wasn’t a fantastic race. I had some really good battles with some of my friends out there; no quarter given at times. It was a lot of fun. I really enjoy this track, and I look forward to coming back next year if that’s the way things work out.”



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.

BimmerWorld Hopes to End the Season on a High Note Friday Afternoon at Road Atlanta


On Friday afternoon, BimmerWorld Racing and the other IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge teams will put an exclamation point on the 10-event, 2016 season at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., with a 2.5-hour season finale.

Last year’s race at Road Atlanta was held in the rain, but the five-day forecast calls for sunny skies on Friday when team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va., and Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C. will share the team’s No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i. The Dublin, Va.-based team will also field their No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i that will be driven by Jerry Kaufman of Mooresville, N.C. and Kyle Tilley of Bath, England. Both cars are turbocharged BMWs (F30 chassis), and they’re entered in the most popular class, Street Tuner.

Fuel mileage and tire wear will be on the drivers’ minds at Road Atlanta, as will the more obvious challenges of just getting around the 2.5-mile, 12-turn road course quickly.

Clay and Cooke are tenth in the current point standings. Tilley is 20th and Kaufman is tied for 24th out of 89 drivers. They’re all eager to end the season with good finishes, and then they’ll immediately begin their preparation for 2017 with testing at Daytona on Saturday. Kaufman also plans to use the off season to get married, following up his proposal on pit lane from the season opener at Daytona in January.

Nine Grand Sport and 18 Street Tuner cars are entered in the season finale, which begins with practice from 2:35 PM to 3:20 PM on Wednesday and 10:10 AM to 10:55 AM on Thursday. Qualifying for the Street Tuner class is Thursday from 4:45 PM to 5 PM, while the Grand Sport class qualifying follows from 5:15 PM to 5:30 PM. The 2.5-hour race is slated for 12:25 PM to 2:55 PM on Friday, preceded by an open-grid fan walk on pit lane from 11:35 AM to 12:15 PM.

Live video streaming and live timing and scoring will be available on and The television broadcast will be on FOX Sports 1 on a tape-delayed basis on Sunday, Oct. 9 from 11 AM to 1 PM. All times are Eastern.

James Clay, team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
How would you rate this season?

“This was a good season with a lot of promise, but I think, in general, while we are awesome in braking, we still struggle on tire use (and braking deep uses more tire), and we have lost a power advantage we once enjoyed that balanced the car in the field as other marques have found or been given more. We have finally overcome our driveline development issues and have a very solid, raceable BMW. I am eager to close the season strong and then begin to focus 100 percent on the full car for 2017.”

What would you say were the highlights?
“So far, we have captured four pole positions and run at the front at multiple events, claiming the first podium for our F30 turbo-powered platform at Sebring. I have enjoyed building this car into a true contender in the series and seeing the results from it.”

What is the main thing you and the crew plan to work on this winter to be ready for 2017?
“We have a very focused program locked in for 2017, and the season starts as soon as the tailgate closes in Atlanta with testing at Daytona the following day! We have a lot of work, as we do every winter, and I am eager to get to it.”

Road Atlanta is a fan favorite of BMW fans. Will you have numerous friends and customers out for the weekend?
“Road Atlanta was one of the first tracks I drove when I started in this sport back in 1997, and we have a lot of friends in the area from the time we spend there. Race weekends are always busy, but seeing friends is the best part of the weekend.”

Experience is the best teacher. In what ways did you improve as a driver this year?
“This was a very good year for me as a driver. I have been more focused than I have been in some years, and I really enjoyed my time in the car. It took me almost 20 years to not agonize over the little things and be confident in identifying shortcomings in a car instead of just working to dig harder, and that step has made me better behind the wheel and has resulted in a stronger car setup as well.”

Last year BimmerWorld had mixed results in this race. One of the BimmerWorld cars finished in the top 10, but the other one was 22nd. In what general ways have the BMWs you’re driving improved this year?
“Road Atlanta was a crapshoot with the weather in 2015, and we struggled in the wet there. I think we have improved wet performance tremendously, and I think we are ready for whatever is thrown at us this race.”

Now that you’ll have a little off time, what will you do that you’ve put off since you’ve been racing so much?
“I would like to say I’ll be spending more time on a jet ski, but the season is closing there also. As the cold comes, so does college football and skiing. And, really, I’m eager to put more time in our BimmerWorld performance parts business, converting race development to customer projects!”

Tyler Cooke, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
Last year BimmerWorld had mixed results in this race. One of the cars finished in the top 10, but the other one was 22nd. In what general ways have the BMWs you’re driving improved this year?

“We have come a long way with the reliability of the engine and the overall handling of the car. The car has been a lot more settled than last year, but we keep getting better as the year has been progressing.”

Is this a good track for the BMW? Why or why not?
“I feel like it is. Every year we have raced there we’ve been in the top 10. Now we just need to finish it with the position we’ve been working hard for.”

What do you think will be the keys to success in this race?
“Fuel mileage has been the key to most races this year with the long green flags, and that’s going to be important here, as well as tire wear.”

What do you like best about Road Atlanta?
“It’s an old track, so the danger factor is higher, like at Road America. It gives you a rush that’s hard to explain.”

Looking back over the season, what would you say was your highlight or best memory?
“Getting the pole at Sebring and making history that weekend.”

Looking forward, the biggest race of the 2017 season is just over three months away. What will you do during the off-season to prepare? How will your training regimen change, if at all?
“A lot of mental training to help limit any mistakes, and a lot of biking and weight lifting to keep my muscles ready.”

Jerry Kaufman, driver, No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
Last year this race was held in the rain, and some cars hydroplaned off course. If you had to give a percentage point value to how much rain complicates things, what percentage would you give it? What do fans not realize about how hard it is in the cockpit when it rains?

“Rain can make a total mess out of a race because it’s highly unpredictable. Racing in constant rain isn’t really that difficult. It’s about 20 percent more difficult than a dry track, but the grip is pretty consistent. A drying track or storm that hits certain parts of the track but not others is probably 60 percent more difficult to get everything out of because there is so much more that is unknown. The great news is that everyone has to deal with the same conditions. Racing for BimmerWorld is a big advantage because the engineers and crew are top notch. Our strategy worked well at VIR, and I think if we have similar conditions at Road Atlanta, we will do even better.”

What do you think will be the keys to success in this race?
“Qualifying on Thursday is going to be critical. We have really good power and torque so we can get a really good run at the start, but it’s often for naught because there is no passing allowed until the start-finish line. Unfortunately, we have the same size tires as cars that weigh 500 pounds less than ours, so we really need to get a good start because our tires tend to fall off quicker than theirs.”

What do you like best about Road Atlanta?
“Road Atlanta is a really cool track for me because when the first of the Gran Turisimo and Forza games came out, it was my favorite track to play. To be there on the IMSA weekend is very special. It’s the big show, and the pressure is on to finish the year with a strong showing.”

Looking back over the season, what would you say was your highlight or best memory?
“That’s an easy question! Getting engaged on the fan walk at Daytona was something that I’ll never forget as long as I live. Shortly after that, I drove the No. 81 from 12th place to fourth before I fell back after having some contact, but it was great to be up front with the leaders.”

Experience is the best teacher. In what ways did you improve as a driver this year?
“I had a lot of success last year, winning a national championship at the club level. I certainly understood what it is to drive a car at the limit. I could even ‘get on it’ right from the start, and a lot of racers struggle with that. They say that they need the tires to warm up, but it’s really their brains that they are warming up. This year, however, has been a big eye-opener for me. It has made me a more well-rounded driver who understands the dynamics of what the car is doing and also what changes can be made to improve the car as well. I’ve also learned a lot about routine and preparation. I’m not saying that I could get in my club race car and put down a faster lap than I did last year, but I would certainly beat my last year’s self over the course of a race weekend.”

Looking forward, the biggest race of the 2017 season is just over three months away. What will you do during the off-season to prepare? How will your training regimen change, if at all?
“I’m in a unique position this year that I’m getting married and going on my honeymoon a few weeks after the race at Road Atlanta, so that will put a damper on 2017 race prep. For the fans, there is a long break from October until January, but for the racers we never stop. There are plenty of club races like the 13 hours of VIR and the 25 hours of Thunderhill in the off-season. It’s a great way to keep the momentum going.”

Kyle Tilley, driver, No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
Is this a good track for the BMW? Why or why not?

“Road Atlanta should be a great track for the BMW; we have good straight-line speed. However, it will be dependent on getting out of Turn 7 well. It’s a tight corner, which is the Achilles’ heel for our No. 81.”

Last year this race was held in the rain, and some cars hydroplaned off course. If you had to give a percentage point value to how much rain complicates things, what percentage would you give it? What do fans not realize about how hard it is in the cockpit when it rains?
“I would welcome the rain! I think that growing up in Europe, I have a bit of an advantage. The car is constantly on a knife’s edge, and the grip is changing lap after lap. It’s a challenge I relish. A side that isn’t so fun is the visibility. Often we have to loosen our belts on a straight to defog the inside of the screen!”

What do you like best about Road Atlanta?
“I love the track; it has an old-school, fast and flowing nature, and it’s a track I have always been very competitive at. Corners, like my favorites at Turns 11 and 12, are corners which require 110 percent commitment and reward bravery.”



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.

BimmerWorld Closes Promising 2015 Season with Top-7 at Road Atlanta


Steady rain made IMSA’s Continental Tire Series season finale at Road Atlanta a highly unpredictable event. When it was over, the BMW tuning and aftermarket specialists at BimmerWorld were able to bring one of their turbocharged 328is home in seventh place with Tyler Cooke and Andrie Hartanto behind the wheel of the No. 81 BMW F30 chassis. The sister No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW F30 of team owner/driver James Clay and Jason Briedis weren’t as fortunate in the adverse conditions, but persevered to record a valuable finish in Street Tuner class.

“The weather was an unpredictable mix of fair and rain all week, and if we learned anything leading up to the race, it was that the forecasts were wild guesses,” Clay said. “We had solid cars that, as testing progressed, became very quick in the dry and predictable in wet conditions. For the race, we took our best guess and started on dry tires which didn’t pan out. Andrie was able to hang on in the No. 81 and move forward as the field shuffled but Jason in the No. 84 car lost ground on the start and was never able to regain in the tough conditions.”

2015 marked BimmerWorld’s first season of solely focusing on the BMW F30 platform, and as Clay explains, the lessons learned and partnerships that were formed will produce more speed and success when the new season gets under way in January.

“We continued to learn a lot this year as we focused on making the F30 drivetrain reliable,” he said. “We made more prudent decisions at times which made us less competitive at a brutally hot Sebring and CoTA, but we increased the lifespan of our powerplants significantly this year through a variety of initiatives internally, and from our new engine partners at Roush.

“We had a true development year this year, and the off-season will complete the process as we are able to resolve our long-term projects, and finally complete the heat management work which is the major piece of this engine.”

The seventh-place finish was a positive outcome for Cooke, who’s developed into a bright young team leader, and for Hartanto, who distinguished himself as one of the fastest and most consistent rookies in the series.

“Starting on slicks was challenging and it took everything I had to not slide off the track,” said Hartanto, who started the race in the No. 81 BMW F30. “Once the guys put us on the wet tires, the car really began to work well and allowed us to climb up through the field. Huge credit needs to be given to the team for putting together a car that was so awesome in the rain and also for their amazing work in the pits which enabled us to jump out in the lead.

“And it’s been a pleasure to drive for BimmerWorld and team up with Tyler. I thought we worked really well together and he was helpful in getting me up to speed. It was such a huge boost to run up front with the fastest drivers in my first season, especially with such tough competition. Being a part of a team that was so easy to fit into made that easier. Everyone on the team welcomed me with open arms and that really meant a lot. This team is one of the best in the business and I’m so proud to be part of BimmerWorld.”

For Cooke, who transitioned into the veteran role of the closing driver this year, Road Atlanta—and the season as a whole—was a positive experience.

“Andrie did a great job climbing his way to third place, and the team did a great pit stop which jumped us to the lead,” he said. “The race for the beginning of my stint wasn’t too bad but the rain got worse and worse and the visibility got worse. The team gave us a great car and walked away with a seventh and I am very happy with that. The team, and Andrie and I have made big strides throughout the year to help the car and ourselves.

“Andrie’s been a great teammate since the first day at Daytona. He has shown his skills all year with how fast he is and how hard he races to go to the front. Andrie has a lot of passion for it and was a really big part of the BimmerWorld family. It was a great year with a lot of learning and good outcomes. Thank you to Andrie, James, and the whole BimmerWorld crew for making 2015 a great season!”

Although Briedis and Clay wanted more from their Road Atlanta result in the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW F30, the effort expended by their pit crew and engineers was undeniable.

“For us, the final round didn’t quite go as hoped; we ended up having to stay out on slick tires longer than we wanted to, and that pretty much determined our outcome,” Briedis said. “Our sister car had an excellent race, and it was awesome to see the crew help get it to the front with strong pit work. James has assembled an extremely talented group of people, and to see them perform week in and week out is a treat. Thanks again to the whole BimmerWorld team for an enjoyable season.”

With BimmerWorld’s turbocharged BMWs ready to visit Victory Lane in 2016, Clay is looking forward to welcoming a few new faces to the program to take part in the journey.

“The F30 has shown serious potential all season and has led races and topped the charts,” he said. “We have learned along the way, and the package continues to get better and more consistent. After our pending offseason to implement some work that has been in the pipeline for months, and testing at the Roush facility which can duplicate the brutally hot conditions we can face during the season in a test cell, we will have the final pieces of the puzzle and be ready to kill it in 2016!

“We have consistent staff on both sides of the wheel, but we will be looking for 1-2 drivers and a crew member or two at the top of their game. This BMW has been as always an awesome car to drive and develop, and we are ready to reap the results of a lot of hard work.”



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.

BimmerWorld Closes 2014 Season with Pair of Top-10s at Road Atlanta


The BMW aftermarket and tuning experts at BimmerWorld have built a reputation as one of the finest racing teams in the Continental Tire Series paddock, and with another top-5 finish in the Championship, the Virginia-based squad has maintained its presence among the sport’s elite programs.

The season finale last weekend at Road Atlanta didn’t deliver the win BimmerWorld sought, and with victory as the only goal team owner/driver James Clay and his team strive for, it was clear he wanted more than two of his four cars placing inside the top-10.

“Road Atlanta was a solid race for us, and the team was 100 percent there and performing,” he said. “It has been a bit of a frustrating season, and a couple of top-10 finishes are an acceptable end given the highs we’ve had elsewhere. The checkered flag was a sweet sight, as it signified the start of a better 2015 to me.”

Drivers Greg Liefooghe and Tyler Cooke took eighth in the Street Tuner class at Road Atlanta in the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (E90 chassis), followed by Clay and Jason Briedis in the No. 84 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis) in ninth. The Liefooghe/Cooke combo led the Championship during the middle portion of the season and fought hard to finish fifth after a wave of pint-sized cars were advantaged with Balance of Performance changes.

Other than another run to a Championship top-5, possibly the most impressive aspect of BimmerWorld’s year came with the development and progress of the turbocharged F30 BMW platform. Built for racing purposes by Clay’s team, the No. 84 F30 showed incredible pace and promise in the ST class, making the ninth-place at Road Atlanta another point of confirmation the brand-new car has a bright future in the series.

“This has been somewhat of a development year for the F30 after we were giving the rules needed to be on par with the ST field early this season,” Clay explained. “We have had some wrinkles to iron out, but we have a really good handle on the car now, and it has been a solid performer the last half of the season. We have work to do off-season, but without question, with the improvements we will implement, this platform is ready for prime time.”

Liefooghe has solidified his place as one of the fastest and most consistent drivers in the series. He’s not the kind of person to find happiness in consolation prizes, but says he can put 2014 behind him knowing he and his teammate got everything out of the No. 81 E90.

“The season finale was a hard fight especially with all the full course yellows that kept the field packed together,” he said of their run to eighth. “It was a nice change from the very long green stints we have been seeing over the last few races, which turned out to be more about fuel conservation rather than actual wrestling for positions on track. We worked hard on chassis set up and I think we nailed it. It would have been great to send off our E90 with a podium finish, but the rules did not allow us to do that. Time to focus on next year and on some big changes coming up.”

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No. 80 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (E90), started 20th, finished 18th

Eric Zimmermann: Road Atlanta, being my home track, is a very comfortable place for me. Getting up to speed at the track came quickly thanks to that familiarity and the input of the other BimmerWorld drivers. I’d hoped to qualify a little bit higher, but I believe there were only two BMWs (both BimmerWorld teammates) in front of me, so I was generally pleased with where I was on the grid. The rain held off, the race went smoothly, and I was able to move forward numerous spots within the field during my stint. It was a bittersweet day for certain and it was tough pulling all of my gear out of the trailer knowing that the season had come to a close.

Tyler Cooke: The race in the No. 80 car didn’t go exactly how we wanted it to but it was no fault of anyone, just how the race played out. Eric did a great job moving forward into the top ten. We found something both with the 80 and 81 that made the cars fast and consistent. Yellows didn’t fall how we wanted them to but still got to show the potential of the car and looking forward to a new season.

No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (E90), started 14th, finished 8th

Tyler Cooke: The start of the race in the 81 was mayhem to say the least. Having some corners dry and having some very damp made for some great racing. BimmerWorld always has a great race car and that showed with the 81 moving up to seventh before handing it to Greg where Greg did a great job getting the car as high as 4th. Cautions weren’t our friend both in the 80 or 81, but we fought hard and walked away with an eighth place. The team did a great job keeping us up front.

No. 82 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (E90), started 30th, finished 22nd

Seth Thomas: Not the race Dan Rogers and I were looking for to end the season with in the BimmerWorld E90. Overall I think we worked hard to achieve success especially with a home field advantage but it didn’t work out that way.

No. 84 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30), started 19th, finished 9th

James Clay: The weather and temperature was all over the place this weekend. I had a solid car under me and used it to move forward during the race. We didn’t have the ultimate speed to win, but I was happy to see the forward progress.

Jason Briedis: With the variable conditions, it was quite a fun race. Our car was good in the damp conditions, allowing me to pick up quite a few positions in the first half of the race. In the end, ninth was a decent result. The current Balance of Performance restrictions are preventing us from getting much more. Hopefully next year the playing field will be a little better balanced.

BimmerWorld Headed Back To Site of 1-2-3 Finish At Road Atlanta


The legendary Road Atlanta circuit in Braselton, Ga., holds a special place in BimmerWorld’s history. Prior to its rise as one of the leading teams in the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series, the BMW experts closed out its tenure in another professional touring car series by dominating the top 3 with its BMW 328is.

Now in its fourth season in GRAND-AM using the same base 328i platform in the Street Tuner class, BimmerWorld returns to race at Road Atlanta for the first time since finishing 1-2-3 in 2009. The Virginia-based aftermarket BMW sales and tuning pros have undergone a number of changes since 2009, but the core ownership, management, engineering and mechanical talent is still in place.

Continuity can also be found within some of its driving talent, but possibly the greatest change from 2009 to 2013 can be found with the 328i chassis. That BMW E90 shell looks familiar, but beneath the skin, the more restrictive Street Tuner rules call for cars that are much closer to the vehicles that rolled off the production line.

Compared to the relative technical freedom with the E90 in the other series, team owner/driver James Clay says BimmerWorld can’t rely on its previous setup information at Road Atlanta and has worked hard to tune the ST version of the E90 to the 2.5-mile, 12-turn course.

“BimmerWorld hasn’t raced the E90 ST cars at Road Atlanta, but the last pro race visit we had to the track in 2009 was a podium sweep,” he said. “We have tested the CTSCC BMWs there several times because it is a convenient track for us, so we aren’t unfamiliar with the track in our current trim either.  We feel confident that we are dialed in for the coming weekend.”

The team is coming off a pair of solid top 10 finishes at Barber Motorsports Park, a facility with many similarities to Road Atlanta. Both share major elevation changes and plenty of twists and turns, but unlike Barber’s narrow, compact nature, Road Atlanta is a bit more flowing and open. The tight confines of Barber suited the smaller cars in the ST class, but Clay is hoping the differences at Road Atlanta will balance the competition.

“We know we have consistent, durable cars that are good in sweepers and on flowing tracks, and Road Atlanta has some of that,” continued Clay.  “We also know the MX-5 and lighter 1 Series BMW will be helped by the elevation, and the Speed3 and Nissan will light the long back straight on fire.  This will be the first track that blends these elements fairly evenly for existing performance balance in the field.  Hopefully, good solid teamwork and cars will be the factor that pays off for us.”

Georgia native Seth Thomas, who shares the No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW 328i with Dan Rogers, led the BimmerWorld team home in 2009, and hopes to repeat the feat at his home track this weekend.

“The last time I raced in a pro event at Road Atlanta I came away with the win having a couple of teammates protecting me as we crossed the line,” he said.  “That race was a fast paced 50-minute sprint from start to finish.  This weekend I feel will be a little bit different since we will be racing for 2.5 hours but I don’t think I am going to have to change much of how I drive going from a sprint race back then to GRAND-AM’s endurance races.

“The BimmerWorld E90 is a great car from start to finish especially at a smooth fast track like Road Atlanta.  So I feel like we can drive this car like we did in 2009 and come away with similar results as both drivers and a team!”

Tyler Cooke and Gregory Liefooghe partner in the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW, and for Cooke, a second-year driver in the Street Tuner class, preparing to race at a new track on the CTSCC schedule has involved a fair amount of homework prior to the race.

“You watch as much in-car video as you can and my teammates have also given me a lot of feedback on what to expect,” he said. “You want to show up and feel like you’ve done all you can to prepare mentally before practice starts so once you’re on the racetrack, it feels like you’re just continuing from what you prepared for.”

Greg Strelzoff and Connor Bloum are new to the BimmerWorld team and the CTSCC series this year, and according to Strelzoff, the education he’s gained through the first few rounds in the No. 80 BimmerWorld BMW should pay off at Road Atlanta.

“I learned a lot at Barber, especially in the wet sessions and definitely feel that I am picking up momentum as I continue to learn the car,” he said. “As for Road Atlanta, I have raced there many times in other cars and series and it is one of my favorite tracks. The turn 1 to 6 series is a great sequence of corners and I think Connor and I will be ready to go after a top finish along with our teammates.”

Follow the team’s progress throughout the weekend