This weekend, I'm participating in my first endurance race ever and I'm doing it with the American Endurance Racing series. I'm driving an E30 3-Series prepped for Spec E30. And if you don't drive a car like this in these races, you might be an idiot.
(Full Disclosure: I'm driving the E30 this weekend thanks to AER, who have given me an entry in their first race at NJMP. It's a ton of fun. We're going to run with them at Watkins Glen and Lime Rock Park later this year, too [If I don't wreck the car here]. Check it out. A great, more serious alternative to LeMons.)
First, I want to present a caveat: The E30 is great if you're a first time low buck racer. I'm not calling everyone a moron if they don't buy an E30, because total spec racing can be a bit of a drag. But if its your first go, it's the best buy.
First, it's common. Now, I know, I'm not a groundbreaker saying that you should buy an E30 to do some cheap racing, since everyone has already had that idea. But being common means that people will have setup advice for you if you're a total newbie. They'll also have spares for when something breaks. Low buck racers are just good people, everyone here is pitching in to help each other. If something breaks, talk to your neighbor, he'll give you a hand.
Secondly, it's great to learn in. I haven't done a real race in basically 10 years, I'm rusty. One of the other drivers in my car this weekend is Randy Pobst. Yes, multi-time champion driver Randy Pobst. And our times aren't that far from each other (session timing is a little wonky, but we were within two seconds. Not extremely close, but not embarrassingly far for my first time in the car or on this track. Ok, enough of the aside and enough of the racer's excuses.). Everything here is classic BMW, which means it has great steering, a compliant chassis, and just enough power to get you going, but not enough to get you in too much trouble.
Third, it's just fun. Serious. The E30 has its reputation as a great driver's car for a reason. Grab it by the scruff, throw it into a corner, and she just wants to dance. I had a few oh shit moments where the tail stepped out pretty aggressively and I figured I'd be picking up a layer of dirt on top of what was a pristine white car. Not so. Every slide was well controlled and I came out on the opposite side looking like a hero. Granted, I'm not a ham fisted dunce behind the wheel of a car, but it feels good to look even better than I am.
For all the evangelizing I do about the Miata, the E30 is just as much fun and it's faster. And that's what you want. I really love this car and I want to own one. Hopefully I'll get a chance. This thing rocks.