Mister BMW: Ray Korman’s Enduring Relationship with the BMW Marque and the BMW Car Club of America

Ray Korman’s long association with the BMW marque has made him popular within the BMW Car Club of America.  He instructs often in both local and national BMW driving schools, is a frequent speaker at BMW Club Dinners throughout the U.S. and was named “Mister BMW” in the BMW CCA national monthly Roundel magazine that featured a color front page photo and a six-page article. Ray Korman and Korman Autoworks have also received national publicity in Sports Car Illustrated, Import Car Magazine, the New York Times, as well as in various automobile racing publications, BMW Club Magazines, and various track race programs. BMW NA produced full color posters of the Korman 325 and M3 wins which were distributed to BMW Dealers throughout North America.      

Conquering the Racing World with the E30 M3


In 1991 Korman’s competition efforts focused on preparation of an E30 M3 for racing in South America, sponsored by Esso and Autogermana S.A. Racing against entries prepared in the U.S., South America, and Europe, the Korman prepared M3 won four out of five regular season races and astonished all with an overwhelming victory in the 6 Horas de Bogota, El Mans Suramericano. In 1992 the Korman prepared Autogermana M3 again won the Six Hour race making history as the only car to win this event twice, much less in two years consecutively. This series demonstrated that Korman was not only the dominant BMW Tuner in North and South America, but that they could win against European factory prepared entries as well.

Racing Triumphs and Innovations: Korman Autoworks’ Journey with BMW in the 1990s

The primary competition R&D program for Korman Autoworks in 1993 was to develop the BMW 325iS for the SCCA IT series. The new model was an immediate front runner, overturning the previous dominance of the Nissan Z cars. The BMW won all but one race of the season, breaking lap records everywhere, and ran away with the Mid Atlantic SCCA ITS Championship!

In 1994-1996 Korman focused on research and development of the new BMW E36 series cars, the M3, 325, 328, and 318Ti.  They built cars and motors for several teams. Customers broke lap records and gained podium positions with Korman products. In the hotly contested IMSA Endurance Series, it was a Korman engine and suspension in the Team Purple M3 that broke the lap record and won the pole in the July 1996 Sears Point race. In the Ford and Pontiac V8 dominated Grand Sports class, this was the first pole position for an E36 M3.

In December 1996, Ray was appointed to the Professional SportsCar Racing Endurance Championship Entrant Advisory Board (formerly IMSA). This appointment was made based on his years of successful experience in this race series.

Racing Exploits in the Late 1990s

In 1997, Korman’s Racing efforts focused on the IMSA Sports Class Endurance Championship with the Korman built TWC Motorsports 2 car BMW 328iS team. After breaking lap records at Watkins Glen and putting the car in the lead, the team withdrew as the series dissolved in the sale and reorganization of SportsCar.

Noting the rapid growth of the BMW CCA Club Racing program Ray took one of the SportsCar/Motorola Cup BMW 328iS race cars prepared by Korman Autoworks to the 1997 BMW CCA Octoberfest races at New Hampshire International Speedway where he shocked some of the northeast tuners by winning the pole for both races, turning laps quicker than the M3 Lightweights and most of the Modified class cars.

In 1998 Ray converted his street 1993 BMW 325iS to M3 specs and won the BMW CCA Club Racing National Championship in the I Prepared class, with first place victories at Sebring, Savannah, Road Atlanta, Mid-Ohio, and Lime Rock Park. He also co-drove a Korman prepared Motorola Cup car for On the Pole Racing Team, breaking the lap record at the rough, high speed, Mosport, Canada circuit.


2000s to Now

The year 2000 was a great year for Korman Autoworks and customers. Howie Liebengood won the international Motorola Cup Championship in his Korman built E36 328 with victories in both the US and Canada. The Korman prep and Howie’s driving also won the Manufactures Championship for BMW. In just six race weekends, Ray Korman tallied up 10 first place wins in BMW Club Racing H-Prepared class and won First Overall four times against “faster” modified entries.

Customer successes continued with Lou Mendola’s D Modified North Atlantic BMW CCA Championship in his Korman built E21 323 brought up to 2.9 liters. Scott Casagrande garnered more Korman prepped wins with championships in K Prepared in 2004 and 2005. In 2005, Ray Korman co-driving with Lou Mendola won another South Atlantic D Mod Championship.

In 2006, business workloads limited racing, but in 2007 with just a five-weekend schedule, Ray again won the South Atlantic D Modified Championship in Lou Mendola’s 1992 325 and finished 2nd out of 56 cars in the BMW CCA National Championship.

In recent years Ray and the Korman Autoworks team have continued racing in vintage events, driving the BMW 325e that won the 24 hours of Watkins Glen in 1986.

And just recently, Dave Nicholas in his BMW 2002 with a fresh Korman engine won the national SVRA Group B Sedan Championship.