There’s a certain respect owed to any racer who willingly chooses the road less traveled, for they shoulder the costs of development and endure the myriad of challenges and unknowns. The reward, of course — besides the respect of their peers — is the undeniable personal satisfaction that accompanies such an endeavor; in proving the viability of something fully unproven and untested and with no existing blueprints to arrive there.
South Africa’s Budler Motorsports, a BMW brand powerhouse in its native land owned by Boetie Budler, could have easily placed a more proven Toyota 2JZ or Mazda Rotary engine in its BMW M3-bodied machine, but that just wasn’t going to fly with this group. Instead, they single-handedly developed a legitimate BMW powerplant virtually from scratch — and the results out of the gate are mighty impressive, especially when considering the undertaking involved to make it happen.
Using a factory BMW S38 DOHC inline six-cylinder as a foundation, Budler and FullRace Engineering developed an all-billet aftermarket block — at the time one of one — and a likewise unique rotating assembly (the crank is factory, rods and pistons aftermarket) and mated it with a factory BMW cylinder head outfitted with Super Tech valves and springs massaged by Vanderlinde Developments. The billet camshafts are also custom one-offs. PPT Pro Billet later machined a second block for the team, which is the one currently residing between the framerails. Measuring 219 cubic-inches or 3.6-liters, the powerplant is paired with a 98mm Precision ProMod turbocharger reigned-in by an AMS1000 boost controller and a FuelTech FT600 ECU to produce an enviable but a yet-undetermined amount of horsepower. Its driver and fabricator, Marius Oosthuizen, the owner of FullBoost Performance in South Africa, rows the gears with a Liberty five-speed and three-disc Ace clutch setup.
Budler procured an RJ Race Cars chassis kit and had it shipped to South Africa and then, in what Oosthuizen describes as the single most challenging aspect of the entire project, hand-made a one-off 2017 M5 body from scratch to drape over it. The build-up was completed last year and tested briefly in its homeland but sat idle during the 2018 season due to a lack of major events to campaign it.
Intent to prove the potential of the all-BMW package on the sport’s grandest stage and at one of its quickest racing facilities, the Budler gang sailed the car 8,100 miles to the Maryland International Raceway for the Import vs Domestic: World Cup Finals earlier this month to contest the Outlaw versus Extreme division. Oosthuizen wasted little time in reaching the time’s initial goal of a six-second timeslip, running 6.90 at 202 mph — but they didn’t stop there.
Subsequent runs of 6.78, 6.76, 6.69, and 6.53 — at speeds topping 216 mph — positioned him 14th in the field. Oosthuizen clocked a 6.57 in round one and a personal-best 6.51 in a losing effort in the second round to close out a highly-successful debut. And they’ve vowed to return.
“We’re hoping to be back in the United States soon and try to push for low six-second runs with some upgrades. We don’t know where the limit of the engine is, like the crankshaft and cylinder head, but we will overcome that when when we reach that point,” Oosthuizen shares.
So why would a team choose to take on such an unproven package, even with all the hurdles necessary to overcome?
“It’s different, and in South Africa Budler Motorsport is a BMW mechanical work shop so we couldn’t really use anything else,” says Oosthuizen. “And it’s a very good engine; it’s a BMW performance engine with a very good head and makes very good power without too much boost. The only downside is block is a little weak.”
The billet blocks, a derivative of the very engine found in the BMW E34 and M5 from the early 1990s, are believed to be the only two such blocks in the world.