All of us have dreams. Many of us pursue them. Some of us come close to realizing them.
However, only a select few of us take the meticulous measurements required to not only achieve, but excel at every step along the way. It takes patience, sacrifice, and a lot of luck to make your dreams a reality.
Robert Chang didn’t begin racing to just participate. He didn’t begin racing to escape from his daily life. Robert Chang dove headfirst into a dream that he had little experience in, yet now finds himself at the pinnacle of. All of us here at Active Autowerke are enormously proud to congratulate him on his 2013 National Championship in BMWCCA’s C-Modified class.
Read on to learn how Robert lived out his dream.
Like many dreams, this one revolved around a curvacious object of desire: Chang’s E46 M3. Three years ago, by his own admission, knew nothing about racing, BMW’s, or taking a car apart bolt by bolt. What he did know though, was that this particular model of M3 had a well-known reputation of being consistent, relatively affordable to campaign, and having a knack for helping its pilots land on the post-race podium. He was also confident he had found a car he could grow with, and not out of. This would become extremely advantageous, as Chang never intended to waste time getting to know the ropes. From the beginning, he wanted to run in BMWCCA’s largest, and most competitive class: C-Modified.
Choosing the car and class were the easy parts. Now, it was time to find a partner in crime. Chang didn’t have to look far; a trip down the road from his home brought him straight to Active Autowerke. Chang’s ambitions and commitment combined with Active’s knowledge and support laid the foundation for what eventually led to his 2013 championship campaign.
Active knows how to make power. Chang knew he needed his only race car to be reliable. To ensure this, Active got to work manufacturing numerous one-off race-spec parts. Parts that would eventually come to influence some of the off the shelf pieces many of you are running in your own BMW’s. The oil cooling system, all-aluminum radiator, custom intake, exhaust, and even cylinder head porting and polishing were all produced in-house. In addition, the roll cage was integrated into the rear subframe, and incalculable hours were spent on the dyno and poking around in the DME to make certain it all worked in harmony.
Chang knew that Active had a reputation he could trust. As a result of this venture, both now benefit from a bonafide racing pedigree as well.
The Road To Victory
An architect by trade, Chang understood the value in planning ahead. The idea of measuring twice in order to cut once. However, nothing could truly prepare him for what he would encounter on the road before him…in particular, the road itself.
As a one-man show, Chang was responsible for his own parts, repairs, and transportation to and from race events. He often found himself traveling thousands of miles, only to test his mental and physical endurance racing the entire weekend before completing the equally grueling trip back home. There were mishaps during hauls and during races, long lengths of time in uncomfortable positions, and Chang’s body paid the price. To this day he finds himself plagued with regular shoulder and back pains. However, no hero’s story can be told without legitimate sacrifice. Chang persevered. The pain was soon eased by the fact that he was becoming very competitive…very quickly.
The old adage of “winning cures all” began to come true. While the physical strains continued, some of the long trips became rewards in themselves. According to Chang, many of the tracks throughout the course of the season were located in proximity to tourist destinations. Certain race weekends were starting to resemble mini-vacations. Yet once he found himself behind the wheel, Chang was all business. He was constantly learning.
Every weekend. Every race.
With every start came a new memory, often followed quickly by every pass, and every lap time; all of which Chang fondly reminisced upon during his days and nights on the road. He was also building relationships with his fellow racers, ones based on mutual respect…and spare parts and hands when things didn’t go as planned. The fact remained though, that even if Chang was spending more time with and around his fellow racers than his own family, as soon as the green flag dropped, they were his competition. Over the course of the season, he would end up beating them more times than not. This year was his year.
Chang knew what he wanted, and went after it, learning many hard lessons along the way. His advice to his fellow dreamers?
“Start small and aim big….if there is a will there will be a way. Surround yourself with those willing to help you get there, and most of all, remain humble in every step. In this sport, knowledge is important and egos are plentiful. Observe what goes on around you carefully and quietly….never lose sight of the fact that the other racers on the track are your competitors.”
The 2013 campaign was certainly special for Chang. He had proven to his peers and himself that finding success, almost completely by alone, was possible. One would assume he had achieved some sense of fulfillment or satisfaction. However, like all great champions, Chang has his sights set even higher for 2014. He is now actively pursuing a professional career on the track.
Of all the components, mechanisms, and electronics necessary in a proper race car, the most important will always be the driver. With Chang’s talent, determination, and newly minted credentials, there is simply no reason for any competitive team to pass up the opportunity to bring him on board. All of us at Active Autowerke are nearly as excited as he is to see what lies ahead the next apex.
We’re sure that if he’s already dreamed it all up, it’s bound to happen. Good Luck Robert!