- Post is under moderationDOUBLE UP / #BMW / #Kumho-BMW-Championship / #Kumho / #BMW-Championship / #2016
Racing requires a suitably serious machine, or two, such as this S54-powered 1 Series pair. Built from the ground-up for the Kumho-BMW-Championship , these two ferocious 1 Series are a force to be reckoned with. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Richardson.
Racing is something that you’re likely to be into if you’re into cars. We’re not saying this means you follow F1 religiously, for example, or watch every single motorsport race going but if you like cars and you like going fast then whether it’s drag racing, NASCAR or hillclimbs there’s bound to be a form of motorsport that gets your juices flowing and one that you’d love to have a go at. The glamour and excitement of motor racing has a lure that’s hard to resist and many of us can no doubt picture ourselves taking the chequered flag in some exotic location and then partying on a yacht afterwards.
Even if that’s not part of the equation, the chance to get behind the wheel of a fullyprepped racer and go wheel-to-wheel out on track is something we’d all love to do.
Easier said than done, mind. Even competing in an affordable race series still isn’t all that affordable and, ultimately, if you want to get somewhere you either need mega skills, lots of money or, ideally, both. Like James Cannon, then, who’s part of the management at Severn Valley Motorsport. He not only had the funds available to build this incredible pair of 1 Series racers but he’s also got the skills to put them to devastating use out on the track.
“I’ve been racing since I was eight,” says the affable James nonchalantly. “I started out in mini stocks and was UK champ aged nine. I then moved onto rallycross, then drifting, and then the Kumho BMW Championship aged 19, racing in Class D where I won multiple races.”
He’s also got a thing for BMWs and has had a few in his time: an E46 M3 Cab at 18, an X5, a 730d, an E39 M5, an E60 M5, an E63 M6, an E92 M3 last year, and now a 335iX. Having worked his way up to Class A in the Kumho BMW Championship James decided to build himself something suitable but he didn’t want to take the well-worn path walked by the other teams, as he explains: “The top class is full of E36 and E46 M3s but the Championship wanted something a bit more glam and I wanted to build something a bit different for the Severn Valley Motorsport race team. I liked the look of the eBay BTCC 1 Series and so that’s what I decided to create.”
He purchased a pair of 118ds for £4000 each and stripped them down to their bare shells, opting for four-doors as they were cheaper to buy and it’s easier to get spares for them in the event of a crash; obviously, being race cars, James had guidelines to build to, so he knew exactly what he was going to do the cars having discussed the requirements for Class A with the Kumho Championship organisers. “Butler Motorsport built the engines and fitted them along with the subframes. Harry Hockly Motorsport supplied the full BTCC-spec cages and Doseley Motors did all the bodywork including fitting the body kits, which are based on the BTCC ones and made in Germany. The rear wings came from last year’s eBay BTCC cars.”
Built to regs they may be but that doesn’t mean that they don’t look utterly spectacular with those massively wide arches, the vast rear wing and twin exhausts poking out through the sides of the rear bumper, plus there’s the faithfully recreated eBay livery and both cars are also sponsored by the Cannon Run 3000.
If they look spectacular on the outside, under the bonnet is simply mesmerising. Both cars run the S54B32 from the M3 CSL, which is a great place to start, with the engines built to regs. This means fullyforged Cosworth pistons, rods, motorsport cranks and head gaskets but, interestingly, standard cams as they make more power. Of course, what really catches your eye are the gigantic carbon air boxes with their massive intake ducting that dominates the engine bays. “I had the carbon air boxes made for them and we had to relocate the rad to allow them to fit,” explains James. The whole lot is watched over by a Motec ECU and Motec also took care of the loom, steering wheel and digital dash.
With the highly-tuned S54 under their bonnets both cars make 380hp. There’s potential for more but there’s also a good reason to not use it. “When we were testing the engines they made 422hp on the dyno,” says James, “but if we went for more power we would have to carry more weight to balance that out and currently the cars weigh 1280kg. Running 380hp gives us a happy medium of power-to-weight for optimum handling. There are two other cars running the same engines, so down the straights there’s nothing in it.”
The chassis has been thoroughly reworked, as you would expect. The cars both run motorsport subframes and fully adjustable Proflex suspension, while power is transferred to the wheels via (surprisingly) a 525i five-speed manual gearbox (which James says is best suited for the track), through a custom prop to an LSD and custom driveshafts. Meanwhile, behind the classic white Speedline wheels (or Team Team Dynamics, depending on the weather) sit massive AP Racing brakes which are perfectly suited to slowing these fast and furious racers time and time again.
Inside the cars are as stripped-out as you’d expect but that’s not to say they’ve not been finished with plenty of love and attention to detail. In each car there’s a mandatory multi-point BTCC-spec cage by Harry Hockly Motorsport, one solitary, super-supportive Cobra racing bucket seat with multi-point harnesses and a Tilton pedalbox. There’s also a carbon switch panel, the aforementioned digi dash, and a grippy suede steering wheel. In the back you’ll find a custom swirl pot setup and fuel pump. As a finishing touch, the whole interior has been painted.
We ask James whether it would just have been easier (and cheaper) to buy a pair of pre-built race cars? “It was definitely more expensive to build them,” he replies. “The other cars on the grid cost about £55,000 bought but each one of ours cost about £80,000. But I know the cars inside out now.” And why did James build two cars? “Well, it’s good to have a spare, just in case,” he says, “and while I mostly race on my own sometimes my dad joins in as well so this way we can race together.”
Of course, building the cars is only part of the whole. Once built you need to take them racing. In the Kumho Championship that costs £2500 for one race meeting, which is quite a lot of money but worth it and it’s still a lot cheaper than BTCC racing costs, where a weekend of racing will set you back about £10,000. “Most of the races are televised,” says James, “and the Class A cars run about half-a-second off the BTCC pace. It’s a good chance of getting spotted. I’m only 24 years old among a lot of much older drivers and the BTCC is definitely my ultimate goal; that’s where I’d like to be.”
Well James has definitely got the skills to make it happen. “My first time out in the car was at Donnington. It was my debut in that car in that class and I came second,” he says without a hint of arrogance. “I can’t fault the cars at all, they’re so good. At Donnington they weren’t even set up yet, not even lowered, and I came second having never driven on slicks. I was three seconds slower than a guy who’d been racing for 20 years and knows all the circuits. Obviously I’m aiming for first.”
With a strong debut, the only way is up for James and the Severn Valley Motorsport race team and with plans to strip both cars and build them again from the ground up, making them even better and even more formidable on track, James Cannon and his 1 Series twins are definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Team Dynamics wheels are swapped with Speedlines depending on the weather.
Stripped-out interior features full roll-cage, digi-dash and single Cobra seat while boot space is occupied by the fuel system and everything has been painted.
Bodywork is based on the BTCC kits and produced in Germany while massive carbon rear wings were taken from last year’s 1 Series BTCC cars.
Engine bays are dominated by the ex-CSL S54 engines, with vast carbon air boxes on both.
DATA FILE #BMW-SVM-1-Series-Racers / #BMW-E87 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-E87-SVM / #SVM
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 from M3 CSL, fullyforged Cosworth pistons, rods and motorsport crank, #Cosworth head gasket, standard cams, carbon air box, remapped by #Telford Motorsport , #Motec ECU, 380hp (detuned from 420hp). 525i five-speed manual gearbox, custom propshaft, custom driveshafts, limited-slip differential. / #Telford-Motorsport
CHASSIS #Speedline / #Team-Dynamics wheels , #Proflex suspension, motorsport subframes, #AP-Racing brakes, 1280kg.
EXTERIOR #BTCC-style wide arch kit, fibre glass bonnet, lightweight doors and boot, Plexiglas windows and front screen, rear central rain light, custom side exit exhausts, carbon #BTCC rear wing, eBay race graphics.
INTERIOR #Harry-Hockly-Motorsport multi-point BTCC roll-cage, Cobra bucket seat and race harness, carbon switch panel, Motec wiring loom and digital dash, suede steering wheel, #Tilton pedalbox, custom swirl pots and fuel pump, fully painted inside.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.