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Why did the 2002 struggle in the Trans Am series?

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I've wondered about this for a long time, since I first read that despite competing in the Trans Am Series the 2002 only won two races, ever. Meanwhile Alfa Romeo, fielding a car superficially similar to the '02 was extremely successful. Given the '02's success in European motorsport why was the Trans Am such a challenge for it? 

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Complete guess: marketing. 

 

That race series didn’t fit with the ‘vibe’ that the marketing people wanted and therefore it was under supported by BMW?

 

Answer usually comes down to marketing or money. 

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I don't believe in the rules they were allowed to utilize the twin cam heads of schnitzer.  It had to be a production based engine. IIRC.  

 

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I don't believe they did (allow twin cam heads).  Pretty sure that Miller & Norburn ran a 2oo2 with a Schnitzer twin cam head in the Camel GT series in the early 70's ('74 or '75?).  I know very little about American Trans Am racing from the period (or Camel GT/ BFG Radial TA....other than they were races under a different flag (than Trans AM).

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Interesting about the twin cam restriction. If only they’d put out a twin cam Tii. That would have been a world beater. 

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In the golden years of TransAm in 68 69 70 the Alpina hemi head was disallowed and there was no support from Hoffman. Those years pre dated the 16V head from Schnitzer.

 

the 2 liter cars were back markers anyway and there was little commercial value to be gained by finishing well behind pony cars that sold for much less in the showroom.

 

Also: no lightweight panels or trick suspension bits like the GTA and no team support from Herb Wetanson's burger chain for Alfa.

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The Alfa’s had twin cam engines, disc brakes and 5-sp trannies.  I also vaguely remember the 2002’s weren’t as balanced front to back so they didn’t brake as well.  THere was also no BMW factory support.  The Alfa’s were the 2.0L front runners until the Datsun 510 showed up, with good support (primarily privateers but backed by some factory help). I had an article that said the last year 1971 the Datsun and Alfa were evenly matched but the Datsun had just a hair better mileage so the Alfa guys cheated w/ a larger than stock fuel tank and was disqualified.  The results, but not backstory, are in Wikipedia.  

 

I saw another post here that said hp/L is harder in the M10 than the corresponding Alfa.  I’m sure there’s someone online that can weigh in on the intricacies of engine design

 

Its funny that the BMW’s seem to rule the roost now in vintage racing.  Not sure why that is either.   LIkely a larger community working on it now.  Seems like there’s a bunch of vintage folks online here.  If i had more time / $$ i think the vintage racing would be fun!

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IIRC (and yes, I was around and an '02 owner back then) both Alfa and especially Datsun had more factory (overt and under-the-table) support.  The teams that raced those marques were much larger and better funded than those who ran BMWs.  Miller & Norburn was a shoestring operation compared to the Datsun team(s), and M&N got nothing from Hoffman.  And the BMW factory wasn't releasing any trick parts  to private racers (at least not in the States) while both Alfa and Datsun were.  

 

At least that's what my aging memory recalls...

 

mike

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(edited)

Marketing: It's the magic bullet with racing. Mark Donohue won for AMC in the Javelin against Ford mustangs with Parnelli Jones driving. Which company and car is still around today? Plus I don't recall seeing Mark Donohue tires and racing equipment in the after market scene.   

 

but what do I know. 

Edited by conkitchen

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9 hours ago, Sahara said:

Interesting about the twin cam restriction. If only they’d put out a twin cam Tii. That would have been a world beater. 

 

And if they'd bumped the engine out to 2.3, it could have been the most winningest touring car the world has ever known.  Oh wait...  :)

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No factory support. And, the rules were biased. The 2002s were fielded by privateers unlike the people on this board while the Datsun 510s were supported by the factory. The Alfa came out somewhere in between, but also lacked the factory support of the 510. The TransAM series was viewed as amateurish by both BMW and Alfa. It was. Alfa and BMW who were the main contenders of the European Racing Championships where the races lasted between 6 and 12 hours. This was a full fledged factory effort with the world's best drivers. America was viewed as an amateur back-wood. But Datsun wanted to sell cars and seized on the opportunity to market their cars in the USA. It probably stood no chance against the factory supported efforts of Alfa and BMW in the grueling endurance races of the European Racing Championship. The archaic 510 motor cannot be developed to the same level as the BMW or Alfa. Indeed the M10 proved to be the best of the three as it was even successfully used in Formula 1 during the early 1980s.

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(edited)
22 hours ago, Sahara said:

I've wondered about this for a long time, since I first read that despite competing in the Trans Am Series the 2002 only won two races, ever. Meanwhile Alfa Romeo, fielding a car superficially similar to the '02 was extremely successful. Given the '02's success in European motorsport why was the Trans Am such a challenge for it? 

The 2 liter Porsche 911 was head and shoulders superior to anything in that class, and had such an enormous head start in racing tech that the factory could not justify the investment and left it to privateers. At the time BMW wasn’t dependent on the US market. It’s racing budget was limited to Euro GP3 I believe and motorcycles including sidecar

Edited by Mike A

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On a factory tour in Munich in 1968 I recall looking through an opening into a small room watching techs huddled over a 4 cyl motor, obviously doing development work. One of them closed a curtain in my  face. 

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MONEY.

 

FACTORY SUPPORT 

FACTORY SUPPORT 

FACTORY SUPPORT.

 

The Alfa was a better car than the 510,  and Horst was a great driver (still is, afaik)

Nissan POURED money into Brock- (read the Stainless Steel Carrot, I think it's reprinted now)

and homologated all sorts of go- fast parts to get him faster than the Alfas.

And it made for some great racing.

 

So BMW drivers, running stock cars out of their own pockets, came in far behind.

Even a well- funded Nissan privateer could run all the SSS Nissan parts, whereas 

there were no such things legal for the 2002.  

 

If BMW had paid ANY attention at the time, they COULD have homologated a LOT of things that

would have helped all of us then, and now.  But quite frankly, they didn't see it as

worth their time.  So even now, the 2002 in vintage racing is only winning because it's

not BY ANY STRETCH period correct for the US.

 

So when BMW gets all high on their 'sporting heritage', I have to counter with 'yeah, right,

sure, when you finally got around to it.'  Not particularly FAIR, as in the mid- 60's they were not

exactly awash in wealth, but they JUST DIDN'T CARE about competition until the mid- 70's.

Actively.  So PFFFFFTTTTT- BMW, you build expensive commuter cars, and racing has always come second...

 

t

never had any delusions that BMW was a 'sports car'.

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, TobyB said:

never had any delusions that BMW was a 'sports car'.

 

No kidding. The Celebrity Eurosport ate E30s for breakfast.

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