Everything You Wanted to Know About NASA's Spec 3 Racing Series

One of the most economical ways to race a BMW in NASA is Spec 3, a racing series that uses the 1993 to 1995 BMW 325. It’s the most restricted series in NASA in terms of which cars can be used as donors, but because of that, it’s also one of the most competitive. Spec 3 races are always close! If that’s something that interests you, find out more below.

The Spec 3 Series is a competitive, fun, safe, affordable racing series, focused on road racing with limited modifications and specified required components. The series showcases the driver’s skills and the specified required components manufacturers, distributors, and dealers.
The 1993 to 1995 BMW 325 and 325is are the only two eligible vehicles for Spec 3.

$500 to $4,000

The key is finding a 325i or 325is with a manual transmission. You can substitute a manual in an automatic car, but that requires additional work and parts, such as pedals, slave cylinder hydraulics and a driveshaft.

M50, 2,494 cc, 152 cid inline six-cylinder, 195.9 horsepower
2,850 pounds with driver.
Permitted fuel is unleaded pump gasoline, with a maximum octane of 93. Fuel additives, other than stabilizers (i.e. Sta-Bil), are prohibited.
On the low end, with a lot of your own labor, less than $10,000. Typical cars cost from $13,000 to $16,000.
New builds run from $8,000 to $15,000.
  • Limited slip differential
  • Spec Rechipped ECU
  • M3 front lower control arms
  • Vorshlag Motorsports camber plates
  • Power steering removal
  • Exhaust wrap
  • Brake ducting
  • Short-throw shifter
  • Solid clutch disc
  • Stainless-steel braided brake hoses
Average cost to run a weekend — $1,000 to $1,200.

Tires, size, brand and prices

Toyo RR 225-50-15 $209 from

Toyo RA1 225-50-15 $205 from

Brakes, brands and prices

From Bimmerworld

Hawk DTC-60 pads: $213 front; $206 rear

Toyo Tires, Hawk Performance, Spec Clutches, Motion Control Suspension, G-Loc brakes.
  • Spec racing: All the cars are the same, one engine, one weight, one spec brake pad.
  • Genuinely affordable racing class for BMW 3series cars
  • Affordable prices for donors, competent chassis and vehicle dynamics, long-lasting engines, vast knowledge base.
  • They are reasonably light cars, so they’re not hard on tires and brakes.
  • Spec 3 cars are getting more difficult to find in good condition.
  • Differentials are not cheap.
  • Car counts low in some regions.
  • No engine component may be modified in any manner not specifically permitted or authorized by the Factory Service Manual or Factory Technical Bulletins. All competitors are required to maintain, and present upon request, the factory manual, and/or Technical Bulletins that show the modification in question.
  • Removal of the driver’s side headlight assembly is permitted if replaced with the specified part “S3 Air Duct” as sold by and must be used to only duct air into the stock air intake/ air filter assembly. A hose or duct may be installed to connect the S3 Air Duct to the factory intake airbox.
  • Fuel cells that are designed to fit within the spare tire well are permitted.
  • No car is permitted any cockpit adjustable system or component, except as specifically allowed in the preparation rules.
  • If the regulations do not specifically permit a modification, it may not be made.
  • “Original” and “stock” mean “as originally fitted for the chassis, model and year of the car.”


Questions and Answers to Feed Your Curiosity

Spec 3 is open to 1993 through 1995 BMW 325i and 325is cars.
The eligible models are so limited and the modifications are so tight, there is no one year that’s better than another. The lower the mileage on the donor, the better.
Yes, among all the usual outlets (Bimmerparts, Bimmerworld, ECS Tuning, Turner, OEM and aftermarket) parts availability is still good for 25-plus-year-old cars.
Because modifications are so limited, this class focuses on the driver.
Unfortunately, no. The most well-attended NASA regions are NASA Mid-Atlantic, and NASA Southeast.
Less than you might think. Purchase and preparation of a car for this series should be less than $15,000.
All of them are known and solvable, but most typically the floor pans need to have the suspension mounting points reinforced if the car will be used for racing.
Spec 3 represents one of the least expensive ways to race a BMW 3-series. At 2,850 pounds, they’re lightweight and relatively easy on consumables such as brakes and tires. It’s no more expensive than Spec E30 and far less expensive than Spec E46. The cars also can race in NASA’s Super Touring 5 and German Touring Series 2 classes.


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