Hooniverse Goes to a Fundraiser with BMW Race Cars, Axe-Throwing, and Flat Bill Riley

If you’ve never been to a 24 Hours of LeMons race, you might not know that most race’s have a charity associated with the event. The charity occasionally affords teams the ability to donate to the charity to get themselves out of an unfortunate penalty while doing some good. It was through one of these races that I met Jill Swanson Peltier, a cancer survivor who founded Lemons of Love to give out care packages to patients undergoing chemotherapy. When LOL held its annual fundraiser—featuring a number of BMW race cars and outdoorsy activities like axe-throwing—last weekend, I decided to check it out and give some money to a good cause.

It’s worth noting that Jill also owns Fresh Air Systems Technologies (F.A.S.T.), who make coolsuit systems and helmet blowers for racing (and other) applications. As such, she has made friends throughout the racing world and every year for the charity, racing friends donate auction items. For example, not only is Jill friends with race car builder Bill Riley, she is also friends with Ryan Eversley, who donated the Bill Riley cutout features so prevalently on Season 2 of the Dinner With Racers podcast. I still have to meet Real Bill Riley, but I’ve not met Flat Bill Riley.

Any fundraiser needs a bit of entertainment so Lemons of Love hired Takedown Eventures to provide a bevy of outdoorsy activities. There was target shooting with a regular bow and a compound bow, Red Ryder BB guns, and axe-throwing, all of which afforded attendees the opportunity to say “Hold my beer” before peppering an old chicken pot pie tin with BBs like I’m doing here.
Just kidding, I’m a horrible shot. And I haven’t a haircut since at least October.

I’m pretty sure nobody got hurt any worse than predictable aches and pains the next day. Here’s The Last Open Road author and racer Burt Levy flinging an axe. I talked to Burt quite a bit about writing and racing and it turns out he lives just a couple miles from me. Small world.

I will say there are few things more satisfying than throwing a damn axe, though. I probably could have done that all day and I may even have priced throwing axes on Amazon—it’s certainly an attainable hobby—before leaving for the night. I sliced a big chunk off the Ace of Spades on my next throw.

“So where do the BMWs come in?” Greg Kachadurian has alreaady been asking for three paragraphs. Laurel BMW in Westmont, Illinois, put up the space for the fundraiser. The dealership is across the street from the venue, which is a closed tennis club that Laurel had purchased and used for temporary inventory storage. The building is supposed to be demolished for new dealership buildings, but in the meantime, it played a perfect host to the fundraiser with a few cool BMWs kicking around. This DTM-tribute E30 sat just outside in the parking lot.

It’s worth mentioning that I’m generally not a “BMW guy,” but race cars are race cars. This BMW 2002 belongs to Laurel BMW’s general manager, Pat Womack.

I’m not sure if this one is Pat’s, too, but this is one of the best-looking 2002s you’ll ever see. Lighting was a bit rough and doesn’t really do the orange hue justice, but the gold basket-weave wheels work extraordinarily well.

Laurel also had a pair of M4 GTS on the floor. Water injection is a pretty cool thing for a car coming off a dealer lot and Autocar has reported that Bosch is looking to put that system into more road cars within a couple years.

Modern technological marvels aside, an E30 M3 like this is stunning to see in person.

But race cars. Fall-Line Motorsports are a Chicago-area race shop that has typically prepared BMWs and Porsches for a variety of sports car series. Fall-Line have prepared and run everything from club racing to the old Rolex Grand-Am Series.

This Bimmer has raced in the SCCA’s Touring 2 class, if the class designator is to be believed. A number of stickers on the driver’s side recount wins going back to at least 2011 so this one has been around the block a few times.

Inside is a pretty well-adapted street-car chassis.

I was perhaps most excited to see this BMW around the fundraiser, though. My first thought was “That looks like an M235i Cup car.” That would have been exciting since BMW does not currently sell the M235i in the United States at all, although a couple have been imported to race in Pirelli World Challenge.

It turns out that this was one of the few M235i’s in the country. BMW started selling these cars a few years ago to complete in a spec-car class at the VLN endurance races at the Nurburgring. The intended goal was to design the car and class for entry-lever drivers with an affordable car that included electronic aides like traction-control and anti-lock braking. I looked for pricing details and the launch price was around $64,000, which is dirt cheap for a 333-horsepower turn-key race car. They’ve since shown up in the Hankook 24H Series for a few years and sound likely to compete in larger numbers in Pirelli World Challenge in the next years.

As I understand it, the race car bodywork fits over the existing M235i street-car bodywork to accommodate the larger tires and basic aerodynamic design of the car.

Inside, most of the dash was left intact and the rest was stripped out to make room for a beefy rollcage.. The center console, door panels, and seat were replaced with carbon-fiber replacements. The engine is a twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six that makes, as mentioned, 333 horsepower. With the beginning wheel-to-wheel racer in mind, BMW has gone with a paddle-shifted automatic transmission, as well.

The wider body work houses super-wide 18″ x 10″ BBS wheels, which give potential for lots of grip. Tire brand varies by series: the VLN uses Dunlop, 24H Series uses Hankook, and World Challenge uses Pirellis. I didn’t even think to look at the tire brand on here, but I’d wager they’re Pirellis.

The entire design is very understated and even as a non-BMW fan, I think it’s an attractive-looking car. The carbon-fiber spoiler differs from the wings used by the M235i Cup cars in Germany, though this might be a performance-balancing measure if it races in the United States. Either way, BMW’s M235i Cup site includes a really useful tuning guide for car owners to help improve any race car, even low-budget crapcans.

Hmm…that’s considerably more cars than people at a charity fundraiser, but this is a car website after all. And I like race cars. Check out Lemons of Love right here to learn more about the charity; you can also buy a raffle ticket for a chance to win a brand-new Mazda MX-5 Global Cup race car from Lemons of Love right here. I’d write more about it, but I have some throwing axes to buy.
[Photos: Eric Rood, Kim Harmon]

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2 responses to “Hooniverse Goes to a Fundraiser with BMW Race Cars, Axe-Throwing, and Flat Bill Riley”

  1. Mason Avatar

    Never heard the term “Helmet Blowers” until this article,learn something new every day.

  2. boxdin Avatar

    I love this stuff. Road racing is so much more interesting than nascar.
    64 grand to buy, a million per year to run?

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