We are Enthusiasts: Tony Jackson
"So Tony, what...what would you say... ya dooo here?"
TJ: I’m the Brand Manager here at Eibach and wear quite a few hats which include but are not limited to; Sales, Marketing and Data Management. My roles here are constantly moving around which helps keep things exciting. I’ve been working in the Automotive Industry since 1999 which started as a Technician at Tustin Acura. Being the car enthusiast that I am, I have always pursued jobs in the industry that I would be passionate about.
As mentioned, you've been in the game for a good amount of time. I'm sure you've owned alot of different cars in your time but what are you driving these days?
TJ: My personal car is a 2002 BMW M3. I bought the M3 in 2012 and had my 1993 Civic Hatchback which was already a dedicated track toy. My plan was for the M3 to be my fun commuter car. I’ve wanted an E46 since they first came out and after previously owning three E36 M3s I finally found the one I wanted. After searching and searching I found this Imola Red/Black in 6 speed sans sunroof. However, it was in Michigan so I bought a one way ticket, hopped on a plane to make the purchase and drove back to California.
Wait, so you flew across the country just to pick this car up? Had you even seen it in person yet?!
TJ: Yep! I hadn’t seen the car in person yet but he provided a ton of pictures and answered all of my questions. I also talked to the shop that had serviced the car for him and the previous owner and felt pretty good about it. I wouldn’t normally fly 3000 miles to pick up a car but it’s really hard to find these cars in the condition, color combo, gearbox and options I wanted. I still feel like I scored on this one. Lately things have started to get serious with the M3 and I’m on the hunt for a real commuter car.
Well we've been seeing a lot of you lately with all the time you've been putting in on track and in the magazines. What kind of track experience you have?
TJ: I first got hooked on going to the track in 2002 with the Hybrids.jp guys and I’ve been going ever since. I’m usually at the track 20+ weekends out of the year doing Time Attack events with my personal cars or track testing with new Eibach products we’re developing. I’m currently competing in Redline Time Attack and the Speed Ventures Bimmer Challenge with my M3.
OK give us the goods: What kind of suspension are you set up with?
TJ: I'm currently testing a set of prototype VAC Motorsports Exclusive Multi-Pro-R2's for the E46 M3. These are matched up with Ground Control’s Race Camber Plates up front, Race Rear Shock Mounts in the back as well as their Weight Jacks which allow the rear spring to articulate with the control arm movement and allow adjustments to corner weights without having to jack up the car. I’m completely in love with this set up and really excited to see these coilovers hit the market. I also have our Eibach adjustable front sway and solid rear sway bar. Ground Control set me up with their Front Lower Control Arm Bushings which made a huge improvement over the old stock units and their Monoball Rear Trailing Arm bushing replacements.
Nice, it sounds like the foot work is pretty well sorted. These cars are known for needing some "preventative maintenance" when tracking. Did you do anything in that regard?
TJ: That's true, the rear subframes on these cars are known to flex and crack over time. After talking with VAC Motorsports they sent me their Subframe Reinforcements Plates, Solid Subframe Bushings and Spherical LCAs. Platte Forme a.g. in El Monte is my trusted one stop shop who did the major subframe work and helped with the track set up on the car.
What about the rollers? Suspension is only one part of the equation.
The suspension on the car feels amazing but only goes so far unless you have upgraded brakes and tires. I switched out the OE BMW rotors for DBAUSA 4000 Series rotors and paired them with Hawk DTC70 front brake pads and Hawk HT10 rear brake pads. For tires I went with Nitto’s NT05 tire in a 275/35/18 for the front and back. The car feels absolutely amazing on track and will only get faster with more tweaking!
Well Mr. Jackson, it sounds like you have another dedicated track toy on your hands. With all that time behind the wheel you must have picked up some pointers here and there. Do you have any setup tips or any other suggestions for enthusiasts with a similar car?
Taking out your M3, or any car for that matter, to the track in stock form is a good starting point. I’ve always suggested starting slow when it comes to modifying your car for track use. Do one mod at a time so you can feel what each modification is doing. I also highly recommend going on street tires until you feel you are completely comfortable and quick before moving up to race tire. I encourage everyone to at least go to the track once. It’s not for everyone, but most people will be surprised to see how helpful everyone is and how much you can learn about your car and yourself as a driver.