Story and Photography: Jim Whiting

It’s interesting how a life event can completely change our perspective on things. For Jim Whiting, a mid-life heart attack sent him down the rabbit hole of motorsports, starting with a unique F80 platform BMW M3, and continuing from there to a full-on track weapon that can hang with anything on a track day. Here’s the story of Jim and the car as catalyzed by an adverse life event. As always, we’ll let Jim tell it in his own words…

I had a heart attack that gave me pause to reflect on my life. It was then that I decided that before I die, I would fulfill my dream of hauling ass on a racetrack in my own car. At the time, as an owner of a Dinan 550i, Schomp BMW invited me to a BMW Ultimate Driving Experience, where I caught “the bug” it all started. I purchased a 2018 BMW F80 M3 Competition in Laguna Seca blue, a personalized color for the F80. A special car, to be sure; one of two in the Denver area in 2018. Before I took delivery, the car received a full complement of Dinan stage three components. 

I owned a badass F80 M3 and was ready to conquer the track, or so I thought. On my first open lapping day, I quickly learned that driving fast on a track would require more performance from the car and more talent from me. It was evident that open lapping was not good for the car in its stock form; the car was self-destructing under the combined demands of high-speed lapping and my driving! It became evident that the “track capable” M3 was not “track-ready.” Especially not if I wanted to run with and beat the big dogs at High Plains Raceway. Double especially not with me, an inexperienced track driver, behind the wheel. Let’s face it; the F80 M3 was built for going fast on the street, not circuit racing. That’s where the story of the car’s transformation really begins. 

For the next three years, I worked to be one of the first to transform an F80 into a track weapon. I’ve been blessed to work with many automotive mad scientists in building this car. Brandon Pesja of Missile Works in Golden, Colorado is an extremely creative detail-oriented fabricator and Jeffery Payn, owner of Payn Performance Engineering, and a genius tuner. Additionally, Grant at Wine Country Motorsports, who has been a wealth of information and resources. Also, The Garage in Parker, where their tech Zakk deciphered a fault code and corrected wiring that no other shop could. The fault was holding back the newly installed port injection and ReFlex PLUS. 

With a track only ethos and after several years of work, Brandon and I had built a track weapon featuring over fifty track-oriented performance and safety mods. A hand-built chrome-moly FIA six-point roll cage painted in Laguna Seca Blue keeps things safe, while custom rear seat deletes with custom blank out panels and rear door cards tidy up the interior. The engine breathes IN  through DIANAN COLD AIR INTAKES and out custom ceramic coated downpipes, through a single straight pipe exhaust. Handling is courtesy of a 3-way adjustable suspension via Motion Control Suspensions,and custom front control arms. Stopping is handled by an Alcon six piston caliper front brake set up, with custom brake cooling and backing plates. A custom splitter, NACA ducts to release cabin pressure under-speed, and a custom frame mount for the APR swan neck wing round out the car’s aero package.

It’s been an incredible journey and an exciting process. I spent countless hours researching ideas and components. Brandon spent numerous months implementing our ideas. To say that Brandon is a perfectionist is an understatement; the car could not have been set up differently or by anyone else. Many told me I was nuts, being one of the first to take on the F80 platform, but I had a vision. I broke much new ground with multiple iterations. I worked closely with industry leaders to source ideas and parts. Unfortunately, not all ideas or parts worked. Brandon likened the process to school “tuition.” When you’re breaking new ground, “you pay to learn.” 

Four years later, my health is excellent, and the car is more or less finished. My original goal was to learn to go fast safely before I died. With the help of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America and Rocky Mountain National Auto Sport Association, I became a certified driver. My original goal was to break 2:00 at High Plains Raceway; currently, I’m running mid 1:50s. With proper tuning by Jeff and more seat time, in 2023, I hope to break 1:50. A LOFTY GOAL TO BE SURE. IF YOU DON’T AIM HIGH WHY BOTHER? Now, I have a winning team and a running car capable of endurance racing, and finally hauling ass on a racetrack! Special thanks to SpeedEFX for an incredible wrap and excellent customer care. I hope you’ll agree, this car is and looks fantastic!