It was actually Jahn from "Ridge Road" that recommend I do this, said a bio would be of interest to some. (By the way, he posts awesome content and I highly recommend a follow). But I thought I'd take a crack at explaining where in the car world I come from, my personal experience, and where I draw some of my opinions from. So let's begin.
I was "spoiled" in the sense that my dad is car guy. While he works in the airline industry, but his passion for cars is 35 years strong. Interestingly, I'd argue my dad is a mechanic first, and a driver 2nd, though, don't let detract -- he's still been a motorsport instructor for over 15 years, and co-owns a private HPDE school. Originally a Honda guy, and later converted to BMWs, my dad was all working on cars. In fact, at 18 months I think there's a picture of me laying on a creeper watching my dad work under the car.
Swapping M3 suspension on a 325i. (E36)
Growing up, I started getting my hands dirty, helping out with everything from routine oil changes, brake jobs, and just about everything that can break on 80-90s BMWs. (P.S. there's not much that ISN'T on that list). He owned e28's, e30's, e36's, an e39 at one point. So needless to say, I grew to like BMW. My "attainable dream car" growing up was an E46 M3. I couldn't get enough of it...8000rpm, straight-6 sounds, ITB's, a real-NA screamer in the modern world. I digress...
Along with our mechanic work, my dad was always a spirited driver. Hitting a corner there, taking a freeway clover at twice the recommended speed, and of course, a track driver, too. About... 2007 I started as a corner worker at the driving school. It was awesome, being a part of the track day. At 15 I had my first go on track, just practicing some cone-based drills. Along with that I'd get loads of right seat time, mostly with my dad. While my dad was fast, what really sets him apart from other drivers on track is his smoothness. It really helped me learn the track before I had ever driven on it.
Seth, my first car and noble track steed! Complete with a build high-comp M20 engine, 4.10 gears, and suspension.
At 16 I had my first track day in "Seth" my E30 325i (more on that in another story). Like most HPDE's, our event was littered with quick cars, Vettes, 350z's, Camaros-- typical 2009-era Texas cars. Needless to say, my under powered BMW on street tires did not keep up! But I got my first track day. I remember that day feeling defeated, having been passed by just about everything on track. I wanted to be FAST.
I think this is where my dad and I started to diverge. I wasn't afraid of the edge of grip. I didn't care about building a well-rounded car, I wanted stiff springs and wide tires. I was hungry, I was competitive. Fast forward about a year and I found myself embarrassing most novice and intermediate drivers in much faster cars. I remember hunting down a C63... I think he spun off track looking while at his rear view--me. I churned out consistent 1:30's at MSR Cresson in my 127whp BMW. I grew with that car, learned how to drive with that car. While I might not have been a competitive race driver, I certainly was a better driver than most 17 year olds... but looking back, I knew nothing.
I didn't know how to setup a car. I didn't know how to learn a new course. I didn't know how to tune a car. I think my view of turbos was about the same way Jeremy Clarkson views them "exhaust gases go through it, magic unicorn farts come out." Something like that? Moving along, I ended up purchasing an E36 325is next, which, in retrospect was a terrible decision. First off, the thing was a lemon. A maintenance nightmare. The day after I bought it the cooling system literally exploded. A plastic clip holding a hose broke, which got caught in the engine fan, resulting in plastic fan pieces destroying everything in blast radius.
Buy car. Spend 25% of car value on replacement parts. Spoiler alert: BMW's aren't for poor college students.
Through this car I was able to learn all the ends-and-outs of what it takes to get a car "sorted". I'm not saying I did this car right -- in fact what I ended up with was flat WRONG for what I was trying to build, but it taught me the process. Sorting out engine maintenance, from fluids to belts and hoses. Going through the suspension...literally every single bushing was replaced. Choosing tires and brakes that match the car. All the basics. The car never ended up being fast -- a 1:34 was my best time at MSR Cresson (4 seconds slower than my e30!). But it was a blast to drive on canyons. I don't want to bore you with the details, but here's the core -- I learned how to do just about everything on that E36. So when it came to my mk7, I had a fresh slate, no overdue maintenance to worry about, and good base.
The mk7 build really deserves it's own post, as everything choice in the "build" was actually carefully considered. But the point here is this -- I've been around cars my entire life. I've been under them, I've broken them, and I've even "raced" them. It's only now, 10 years after that E30 that I feel I am finally getting past the tip of the iceberg, and feel I have something to offer the community. Hopefully you enjoy my posts, hopefully you learn something, maybe get a laugh. This is Session MK7. This is my story.