CH5: Betty unlocks even more potential (reblog from JRZ)

There’s never a dull moment with Tom Tang and his 2016 F80 BMW M3 6MT sedan, “Betty.” With the end of the year quickly approaching he wanted to accomplish at least one more thing before 2017 arrived; and that was to lap Buttonwillow Raceway in under 2:00 minutes on street tires. Not an easy feat, especially for a full street weight daily-driven car with no aero. However, Tom knew that he and “Betty” could achieve this personal goal.
But first, it was time to upgrade his JRZ RS Two dampers from Touring configuration to Sport configuration. This upgrade meant two things: swapping to stiffer spring rates (700lb in the front and 900lb in the rear) and replacing the OEM pillow-ball tophats with JRZ spherical bearing tophats.


After reviewing tire temperature and pressure data from the last track day at Thunderhill with the engineers over at Nexen USA, it was decided that “Betty” needed to run more static camber up front to take advantage of the grip that the Nfera SUR4 tires offered; and the JRZ spherical bearing tophats (with built-in adjustable camber plates) allow for this type of adjustment. Additionally, Tom hoped to gain sharper and more precise handling characteristics because spherical bearings eliminate deflection. Once everything was installed, it was time to give “Betty” a fresh alignment setup.


Tom spent a week driving around on the street first, and he did notice a slight increase in ride noise. The JRZ spherical bearing tophats are definitely noisier than OEM (which are designed by BMW to ride more comfortably for everyday use), but this is of course an understandable trade-off; especially since he was more focused on performance gains. The good thing is that normally, most spherical bearing tophats also transmit much more vibration and harshness but Tom didn’t feel that this was the case with JRZ’s.
A week later and Tom arrived at Buttonwillow Raceway in order to drive the infamous CW13 (clockwise 13) configuration that has been a benchmark for fast cars in North America for more than a decade. Buttonwillow is also where the annual Global Time Attack & Super Lap Battle Final event takes place (a race where Tom has podiumed 3 years in a row with his JRZ 12 31 Motorsport line equipped Honda S2000 race car nicknamed, “Irene”). First session out, and things were already looking very promising. Tom was immediately able to do a 2:03 lap time. Next session out, a 2:01.


After swapping his tires from front to back (in order to help balance wear) and after making a few rebound and compression adjustments, Tom went out on track again and this time, he did it: a 1:59.2. We were told that Tom let his friend Graham Downey (a former Pirelli World Challenge driver) pilot “Betty” later in the day and Graham was able to record a 1:56.7; a truly blistering time for any car, and definitely the fastest an F80 BMW M3 has ever gone there on street tires.


Ride along with Tom and “Betty” in 360-degree high-definition video for a sub 2:00 lap at Buttonwillow Raceway (CW13 configuration) here:

With Christmas just around the corner, Tom found himself at the race track once again. This time, it was at Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA. He had driven and raced there a few times over the past few years, but this was the first visit with “Betty.” Unfortunately, it was raining and throughout the day the weather conditions were constantly changing. The track was never fully dry and every lap around Tom found that sections which had grip earlier were now wet, or vice versa. What made things worse is that after only two sessions Tom overheated the OEM brake fluid and so he was forced to retire the car for the day. He had wanted to see how long the BMW DOT4 would last and it turns out the answer is: 2.25 days. Laguna Seca (for those who don’t already know) is a very tough track on brakes because most of the braking zones are downhill and that takes a toll on a heavy car like “Betty.”


As such, the best lap-time Tom recorded that day was a 1:47.4. However, when he looked at his AIM GPS data he saw that had he been able to string together a clean dry lap in each of the sectors of the track, he would have been able to do a low 1:37 which is a time comparable to the 3X more expensive BMW M4 GTS! Tom has already said that he “will be returning to Laguna Seca when the weather is good” with fresh Castrol SRF racing brake fluid and Challenge USA stainless brake lines to see what “Betty” is truly capable of.
We know that Tom has many more track days planned throughout the year (in-between actual NASA Pro Racing weekends which take priority, of course) and that he will continue to find more time in “Betty’s” setup. All we know is, we are excited to support and to see Tom’s continued progress and success, and we know that his JRZ shocks (on either car) will always be up to the task!


CH4: Betty goes back to the track. (reblog from JRZ)

If you’ve been following along from the very beginning of this blog series, then you know that Tom Tang’s 2016 F80 BMW M3 6MT sedan (nicknamed “Betty”) is his everyday car. This means that he spends a lot of time driving on his JRZ RS Two dampers. We followed up with Tom to see what his impressions were after 1,000+ miles of commuting around the San Francisco Bay Area. He shared that he continues to be really impressed with how comfortable the RS Two shocks ride. “They handle bumps very well, and if you’ve ever been on California roads you know that they are notorious for pot holes and rough surfaces.” The one issue that Tom did have though, was that because of how BMW designed the multi-link rear suspension; any changes made to one attribute, such as camber, meant that a change to toe (and tack width) would follow. This meant that any static negative rear camber also resulted in unwanted rear toe out.


In order to solve this problem, Tom chose to partner with our friends at Fall Line Motorsports to run their cleverly designed rear toe link kit. These allow for the rear toe to be easily set after camber is adjusted. This meant that Tom was able to dial in the rear toe to his liking in order to minimize any “rear steer” while still maximizing rotation.


As Tom was preparing for his return to Thunderhill Raceway he thought about upgrading his brake pads to something with more initial bite, better modulation feel, and a much higher tolerance for heat. He called up his partners at G-LOC Brakes, and owner Danny Puskar happily shipped over a set of R12 compound (front) and R10 compound (rear) pads for “Betty.”


A few days later, Tom found himself once again parked in the paddock at Thunderhill Raceway. “Betty” had received considerable upgrades and he was excited to see how those changes would translate on track. After hooking up his AIM Solo GPS data-logger and HD360 video camera, he went out for the first session of the day. Tom immediately noticed that the car felt more stable, that it transitioned better, and that the front end didn’t dive as much under hard braking. The result? A 2:07.8.


Second session out and Tom was able to drop into the 2:06’s. By the third session, he was lapping in the 2:05’s. He spent some time reviewing data during lunch and saw that “Betty” was now generating significantly more lateral g’s than before (1.3g now, as opposed to 1.1g when the car was stock). “Betty” was also much faster down the front straight now (132.8mph vs. 125.4mph from before) because Tom was able to carry much faster exit speeds coming out of Turn 14-15. After making a few tire pressure adjustments in the afternoon, Tom was able to drop into the 2:04’s.
By the end of the day, Tom was able to clock in a 2:02.377 which is a very respectable time for the Bypass configuration in a full-interior non aero-equipped car on street tires. Ride along with him and “Betty” in 360-degree high-definition video here:



Stay tuned for Chapter 5 which will feature:

  • Installation of JRZ spherical bearing top hats
  • Revised alignment setup
  • Track testing at Laguna Seca
  • Lap times and data
  • Photos and video


CH3: Betty gets big girl shoes and shocks. (reblog from JRZ)

In the last chapter of our blog we wrote about how Tom had his first-ever track day with “Betty” at Thunderhill Raceway. Since then, the team here at JRZ Suspension Engineering has built a brand new set of RS Two Touring dampers and shipped them out to sunny California for Tom to install and use. As it turns out, Tom had been very busy preparing for these shocks to arrive.


Unhappy with the performance of the OEM supplied tires, he had called his buddies over at RAYS Engineering and Mackin Industries to provide “Betty” with some new (wider) shoes: a gorgeous set of Volk TE37RT wheels in Burning Red. They were sized in 18×10.5 +21 offset. Tom opted for a square setup because he prefers the same size wheel and tire up front for better turn-in response.

Tom then asked his friend, Paul Jho at Nexen Tire, for a few sets of the new ultra-grippy Nfera SUR4 street tire in 275/35/18. So by the time the RS Two’s arrived, “Betty” was ready to receive quite the track-oriented makeover.


Installation of the RS Two dampers went very smoothly for Tom as it was done by Andrew Eng, his longtime racing crew-chief and someone with experience installing and setting up our Motorsport series dampers. Drew commented that “the RS Two instructions were easy to understand” and “the packaging was really nice.” He said he “expected nothing but the best since these were JRZ’s, after all.” A few hours later “Betty” was aligned and ready to hit the road.

Tom’s first impression? He immediately noticed “how much smoother and more responsive the car had become with regard to changing direction and lateral grip,” and also how “much quieter” the RS Two’s are in comparison to the OEM BMW shocks. Within a few days Tom had several passengers sit in his car and he intentionally asked them as to whether or not they noticed a difference with “Betty.” Their response? Tom’s mother said that “before, it seemed as though your car had overinflated tires because it felt very harsh over bumps.” But “not anymore.” Tom was really pleased by this because it is a terrific indicator for the performance of the RS Two damper. They handle significantly better than OEM without sacrificing ride quality. They are drivable on a daily basis and also ready when someone wants to hit the track. And that is exactly what will be happening soon.



Stay tuned for Chapter 4 which will feature:

  • Installation of an adjustable rear toe link kit
  • Installation of race brake pads
  • Revised alignment setup
  • Track testing
  • Lap times and data


CH2: The first of many for Betty. (reblog from JRZ)

According to BMW, the 3.0-liter twin turbocharged inline-six engine housed within the F80 M3 is officially “broken in” at 1,200 miles. That’s why BMW requires owners to bring the vehicle back for the first oil change once this happens. BMW also recommends that during the first 1,200 miles the car should be driven below 5,500 RPM, below 105 MPH, and never at wide open throttle. Tom chose to ignore all of these recommendations. He opted for a “hard break-in procedure” instead, and five weeks after first taking “Betty” home he brought her back to the dealership for fresh engine oil so the real fun could begin.




Later that very same day, Tom drove over to Blacktrax Performance in Milpitas, CA with a tank full of 91 octane Shell V-Power gasoline to find out just how much power “Betty” is putting down at the wheels using a Dynapack dynamometer. Keep in mind, BMW claims that the F80 M3 produces 425 horsepower and 406 ft/lbs of torque at the crank.



At 82F degrees ambient, “Betty’s” first baseline pull on the dyno was a whopping 422 horsepower and 416 ft/lbs of torque. At the wheels! On the next pull, 417 horsepower and 414 ft/lbs. Amazing! Needless to say, Tom was very happy with these numbers.




The next day, Tom headed up to Thunderhill Raceway for his very first shakedown and track day with “Betty.” During the two-and-a-half-hour drive to the track he had some time to reflect on his impressions of street driving with the F80’s OEM suspension. Tom purposely chose to not get the Adaptive/Dynamic option, knowing that he would eventually be on JRZ’s (JRZ does offer delete kit’s for those who have the Adaptive/Dynamic option). As is, the M3 feels stiff but comfortable. The factory gas shocks are actually somewhat noisy though – over speedbumps they emit a rather noticeable sound. But other than that, they work well and provide a surprisingly good amount of mechanical grip “out of the box.”




After filling up the tank with 100-octane gasoline (to prevent engine knock), Tom went out for his first session of open track on Thunderhill’s 3-mile East Track with the Cyclone (over the hill) configuration at Turn-5. For each session Tom would have a passenger onboard because he had recently donated a “track ride-along experience” for a charity fundraiser silent auction, and the winners had decided to redeem it on this particular day.

Tom’s best time during the first session (80F ambient) was a 2:14.7. He was at first reminded of the great inherent handling dynamics of the M3, but also quickly began to realize that it is definitely not a light car at 3,562 lbs (when Tom drives a car he actually owns, he pushes it much harder than he would with someone else’s so this wasn’t apparent with the M4 mentioned in Chapter 1 from a year ago). And as you can imagine, the F80 M3 weighs a lot more than the race cars that Tom is normally used to. As such, he began to also feel the OEM brakes begin to fade as he tried to slow the car down into some of the heaviest braking zones on track (from 131mph to 90mph in Turn 1, and from 128mph to 50mph in Turn 14).




After making some tire pressure adjustments to the OEM supplied Continental ContiSport Contact tires (255/40/19 in the front and 275/35/19 in the rear), Tom went back out for second session (86F ambient) and turned a 2:12.4. Progress! Tom noticed that the nose of the car dives quite a bit under heavy braking, so he realized that he would need to brake earlier and not as aggressively in order to manage understeer at corner-entry. At the same time, the OEM tires do not provide a lot of grip, so he had to be very gentle with throttle application at corner-exit; otherwise snap oversteer would become a very real problem. Third session out (88F ambient), and Tom was able to turn a 2:10.009. By then, the tires were very warm (core temperature) and the brakes had been worked very hard despite his best efforts to manage them. For the fourth and final session (92F ambient) of the day, Tom ran a 2:10.100, which was quite good considering that by then it was more than 12 degrees hotter than when the day had begun. Keep in mind also that the Cyclone configuration of the 3-mile East Track at Thunderhill is about 3-4 seconds slower than the more commonly used Bypass configuration.





At the end of the day, Tom had shaved more than 4 seconds off his starting time and had collected a ton of useful data (for example, the car was able to generate over 1.1 lateral G in Turns 2 and 8, and over 1.1 longitudinal G in braking in Turn 14) using a Solo DL data-logger provided by his partners at AIM Sports. He was happy with the results and was glad that he was now more in-tune with “Betty.” Tom also felt that he now had a real benchmark for which he could begin making improvements against.


Stay tuned for Chapter 3 which will feature:

• Installation of the JRZ RS Two (w/ OEM top mounts)
• Installation of Volk TE37RT racing wheels with Nexen NFera SUR4 tires
• Next track day
• Lap times and data
• Photos and video

CH1: Welcome to the family, Betty

CH1: Welcome to the family, Betty. (reblog from JRZ)

You must be wondering, why are you seeing a brand new 2016 BMW (F80) M3 sedan next to some of the coolest race cars in the world on the JRZ website? And why is she named, “Betty?”

The reason is because Betty was recently purchased by Tom Tang, a longtime JRZ factory-sponsored racing driver known for naming his cars. Tom is also the owner of the internet-famous “Irene,” one of the meanest (and greenest) Honda S2000’s ever built and raced in Pro Time Attack and NASA Pro Racing.



Last year, Tom was doing some coaching for a private track club and one of his students brought along a newly released 2015 BMW M4 (coupe) with DCT transmission. Tom was surprised by how well the car performed at Thunderhill Raceway. “It had great power and tons of mechanical grip for a completely stock BMW,” said Tom, “I was really impressed!” Since then, the idea of someday getting a new M3/M4 was stuck in his mind.

Fast forward to April of this year. Tom had been thinking about replacing his faithful daily driver (a 2006 Mercedes Benz E55 AMG) with something new and that’s when he realized, why not pick up an F80 M3 sedan? It would be “practical” and most importantly, fun! He then decided on the must-haves: alpine white, two-tone sakhir orange and black interior, and a 6 speed manual gearbox. Only he discovered that there wasn’t a single M3 in North America available with that configuration. No problem! Tom ordered one from BMW in Germany and 3 months later, “Betty” (white, haha, get it?) arrived at the dealership in Santa Clara, CA.




Now, to the reason for why “Betty” is on our website and why (we hope) you will care. Tom has years of experience successfully campaigning in motorsports with JRZ suspension technology. Tom has raced on the double adjustable RS Pro series (2012-2013), the triple adjustable Motorsport (2013-2014) series and since 2015, the 12 31 series dampers. As such, Tom is the perfect candidate to run our newest line of “street” oriented dampers, the RS Two, on his M3 and to share with us his thoughts about how they perform during every day driving and inevitably, at the race track. Tom will be installing his RS Two dampers initially in the Touring (OEM topmount) configuration, but will later upgrade them to Sport (JRZ spherical bearing topmount) configuration in order to experience the performance gains first-hand.




Stay tuned for Chapter 2 which will feature:
• Initial thoughts from Tom about the M3 during everyday use
• First track day in completely stock configuration
• Lap times and data
• Photos and video