The 24 Hours of LeMons rules require teams to race prep their cars for $500 or less. The $500 applies to performance components (e.g. engine, drivetrain, suspension) and does not include saftey items (e.g. the roll cage, seats, harnesses, brakes, wheels, tires). Our 1983 BMW 528e was purchased for $300 and prepped with $200 in parts. In addition, unused parts may be sold to and deducted from the costs to further increase the budget.

After each race, a residual value is given to the car to allow teams to make further repairs and improvements. This has allowed us to improve the suspension and add a turbo. The rest is pure cheating!

Anatomy of a Race Shark



Special Ingredients

Rear Wing - Now sporting two aluminum tail fins 2.5 feet tall, this fish is all about speed. In a bid for the dangerous homemade technology prize, the shark sports a dynamically actuated 46" by 18" hand crafted wing spanning the two large tail fins. Not quite Forumla 1 quality as result of some pretty heinous welding and improvised bending of metal,  it actually looks pretty serious if you take your contact lenses out and squint. An OEM window motor drives the wing up and down based on control input from the Shark Brain (see below). Bosch, makers of the original window motor, will never have stress tested their equipment as we will in this application.

Ghettocharger - We yanked a Garrett T3 50 trim disco potato turbo from a 1987 Chrysler 2.2 Turbo I motor after much cursing over not bringing the right tools to the junkyard. It cost us $90 and a lot cut fingers. An antique BEGI rising rate FPR that was designed when flying saucers were still considered hip manages our boosted fuel mixture. Rounding out the $225 build is a shiny newish looking diverter and an intercooler that looks like it was salvaged from a wreck at the bottom of the ocean. All of this is glued together with hoses ill-suited to boosting applications.

Shark Brain - Like human brains, the shark brain has two halves. One side acquires data from sensors and controls the wing and other motors. The other tracks GPS position and transmits collected data to a server via a 3G wireless connection. The brain has a 3 way accelerometer for measuring g forces which is the principal input for setting the rear wing position. It also measures steering angle and air fuel ratio from a wideband O2 sensor. GPS input provides speed, position and a second source of acceleration data. 


Front Splitter - Inspired from cars much faster than this one, we took a bunch of aluminum and built it into a precariously low profile debris magnet hanging off the front of the car. Its primary function is to drive air up into the engine and make the front wheels stick to the ground. Its secondary and more obvious function is to grenade the oil pan and front tires when it hits a loose wheel set free by another jalopy in the middle of the track.

Active Dorsal Fin - Standing at almost 3 feet, the new dorsal fin is now cut from aluminum. The plan for this fin is to create an active rudder. Based on the same shark brain that controls the active wing, sesnors will measure the steering angle and then drive a 2nd window motor that pivots the dorsal fin into the turns. The idea is to use aerodynamic force to counter body roll and keep the car flat in the turns.  


Roll cage - What do you do when you have a week left to your first ever race and you still haven't sourced a roll cage? Well, you buy one for an Evo 8 off of Craigslist of course. Then you beat it into the car with large hammers until it gives in and finally fits. Since then, we've become a bit more organized. The cage has doubled in points. Two driver door bars, a front cross bar, front strut tower supports, rear strut tower supports, and rear sub-frame supports. 


Diet - Every single strap of non-structural metal has been disdainfully cut from the car with little regard for its originally intended purpose. The sun roof, rear seat, dashboard, rear deck, trunk lid, hood ribs, door liners, and many other structurally important parts lie in a pile rusting away. Other teams have stepped in as well to help our weight reduction by hitting our car in such a way that more weight is freed from it during races. For added measure, we also make sure bolts are only hand tight so non-essential parts can be shed easily on the race track. 

Suspension - The original springs have been swapped in favor of V12 springs from a junkyard E32. Cut almost in half and re-shaped by a blind person with a map gas torch, it is truly impressive that these springs are still sitting in their perches. A pair of already end-of-lifecycle Bilstein shocks have found new life in the front strut towers. Ratty front suspension bushings have been sealed up with varying (incorrect) mixtures of two-part polyurethane compound. A set of much too shiny 18 inch wheels were experimented with in Reno and have since been recognized as for use only on real cars. Thus, we now stick to the eight 15" bottlecaps and wrap them with monster sized, street paving 205 Falken RT615 tires.

Specs - 1983 BMW 528e

Purchase Price: $300
Date of Manufacture: November 1982
Mileage: 353,806 (or probably a lot higher given the odometer hasn't moved since we picked it up) (update: what odometer?)
Color: Disco white / neon accents
Chassis Type: E28 four door sedan
Length: 189" (nose to tail fin)
Width: 66.9"
Wheelbase: 103.3"
Stock Engine: M20B27 2.7 liter inline 6, 121hp @ 4,250 RPM, 177ft lbs @ 3250 RPM
Turbocharged Engine: M20B27 2.7 liter inline 6, 221hp @ 3,900 RPM, 325ft lbs @ 3,250 RPM
Engine Management: Bosch Motronic 1.0, some sort of knock off chip, stock injection
Forced Induction: Garrett T3 50 trim turbocharger, BEGI rising rate FPR, 7-15psi, intercooler
Exhaust: Reversed headers and custom snarl of above the hood turbo plumbing*
Transmission: 260/5, 5 speed manual gearbox (with Millenium Falcon Hyperdrive shifter)
Drivetrain: S3.25 limited slip differential, rear wheel drive
Front Suspension: Bilstein shocks, modified BMW 750il springs, reinforced sway bar
Rear Suspension: Bilstein shocks, cut stock springs, stock sway bar
Front Brakes: stock rotors and calipers, ceramic pads
Rear Brakes: stock rotors and calipers, ceramic pads
Wheels: 15" x 7", BMW Style 5, BBS Basketweave, 13lbs
Tires: Falken Azenis RT-615 205/40/15, UTQG 200AA, 20lbs
Seat: Sparco Evo 2 racing seat, Schroth Racing 6 point harness
Roll Cage: Autopower 6 point, DOM mild steel, 1.75" diameter, .095" thick (originally for a Mitsubishi Evo 8 but beaten into the E28 chassis with hammers and ill will), triangulated points to rear sub-frame and strut towers, triangulated points to front strut towers.
Aerodynamics: Front splitter (update: dead after 1 race), side skirts (also dead), rear diffuser (never did it), dynamically adjusted rear wing (still flying)


Interior removed
Side and rear windows removed (sold for $45)
Window and sunroof motors removed (sell for $25)*
Door and trunk locks removed (sold for $20)
Sunroof and sunroof sub-structure removed
A/C and heating systems removed, including the damn heater core that wouldn't budge for weeks!
Power steering removed
Superfluous wiring removed
Steering lock and cylinder removed
Engine fan removed
Catalytic converter removed
14" x 6" Basketweave rims swapped for 15" x 7" BBS Basketweave rims
Push button start added ($10.19)
Electric engine fan added ($0)
2ft composite epoxy plywood aluminum dorsal fin added
2ft composite epoxy plywood aluminium tail fin added
Bad ass shark painted on sides
Bling lights added to dorsal fin and teeth
Cooling and lighting switches added ($4.00)
Rollcage added
Racing seat and harness added
Emergency kill switch added (safety item)
Fuel pump switch ($4.00)

Thunderhill 2008
Cheap knock off chip added ($25.00)
Used Bilstein shocks ($60.00)
BMW 750il front springs, cut 4 inches ($32.00)
BMW 745i rear springs, cut 3 inches ($32.00)

Reno 2009
Garrett T3 turbo charger from Chrysler 2.2 Turbo I ($90.00)
BEGI rising rate fuel pressure regulator ($35.00)
Leaky intercooler ($45.00)
Diverter valve ($10.00)
Hoses and clamps ($30.00)

So many things have been done on the car since this last update, it's impossible to remember. Even Jay doesn't care anymore!


Air hose replaced ($18.20)
Fuel hoses and fittings replaced (safety item)
Radiator hose replaced ($14.46)
Shifter mount bushings replaced ($31.98)
Battery and fuel injection wiring replaced (safety item)
Valves adjusted ($0)
Timing belt and water pump replaced ($38.64)

Thunderhill 2008
Flex disc replaced ($29.10)
Rear swaybar link replaced ($20.61)

Buttonwillow 2009
Used fuel pump (safety item)
Flywheel, clutch plate, diff clutches, and diff shims resurfaced ($55.00)
Front suspension and subframe replaced ($120.00)
Engine, front control arms and Bushings rebuilt with DIY polyurethane ($33.00)

As above. It's all changed, been cheaty, or broke. Come see the car for yourself.

Total Cost

Initial performance budget: $500 (spent $458.55)
New performance budget following the Yee-Haw It's Lemons Texas race: $200.00 (spent $198.00)
New performance budget following the Lemons Arse-Freeze-A-Palooza race: $225.00 (spent $219.00)
New performance budget following Reno Goin' For Broken race: $400.00

* Despite the optomistic use of the past tense, items flagged with a star (*) haven't been finished. In fact, we probably didn't even start them yet! Ooh, the horror!