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In the world of sportscar performance, Randy Pobst has become a household name. Many know him from his work testing new vehicles with Motor Trend and other publications, efforts which have resulted in Pobst setting production car lap records at a number of different American race tracks with a variety of performance vehicles over the years. But Pobst is a very accomplished racer as well, having won numerous championships in several different series that include a GT class win at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2001 (and second overall that year), along with World Challenge GT championship in 2010, among others. So when a team needs a fast driver with a proven track record, his name is often at the top of the list.
“My mom likes to say that I was born with a toy car in my hand,” Pobst told us. “I’ve been a car guy since the very beginning. And when I got my driver’s license, I found myself attracted more to the sporty cars than the big V8 muscle cars – I always liked the corners.”
Pobst discovered autocross as a teenager and his fate was soon sealed. “I kind of stumbled upon the sport and fell in love immediately. After the first time I ran an autocross course, I was totally hooked.”
The K-PAX Volvo that Pobst took the World Challenge GT championship with in 2010.
Pobst competed in autocross competitions throughout college, a passion that later led to no less than six autocross championships with the SCCA. Shortly after college he was able to get his hands on a race-prepped second-generation Volkswagen Golf, a car which he campaigned in Volkswagen Cup and other series, and his success there would lead to factory-backed racing efforts with Porsche, Audi, and Mazda, among others.
More recently Pobst has been racing his own cars in budget racing series when he’s not out testing the latest sportscars or coaching would-be racers. It doesn’t take much convincing to get him behind the wheel of teams’ cars for one-off events, though – especially when Dinan is involved. The legendary BMW tuning outfit was seeking a third driver for their team in this year’s One Lap of America, an annual event that sees the competitors cover thousands of miles on America’s roadways and compete at more than half a dozen race tracks in that same vehicle over the course of a week.
“My relationship with Dinan goes back to the late 2000s through their connection to APR, another company that does tuning for makes like VW, Audi, and Porsche,” Pobst explained. “I raced for them back in 2008, and more recently they asked me to do some testing with some of the cars that they’ve tuned. At that time we talked a bit about the possibility of doing One Lap of America, but last year the opportunity came up a little too late – we couldn’t get everything together in time. So that gave us plenty of time to get geared up for this year’s event.”
These days Pobst also often competes in budget endurance series races like those held by the Lucky Dog Racing League. Randy will be piloting the "Flyin’ Moose", his competition-prepped 1990 Volvo 740 Turbo, in his next event.
Having previously completed in One Lap with a Porsche Cayenne, Pobst was interested in potentially campaigning a sportscar in this event, but with three drivers involved and 3500 miles to cover, he also realized they were going to need something with a real back seat. “We discussed a few different options, and ultimately we wanted to run something where we’d have a good chance of winning our class,” he said. “So the guys at Dinan and APR suggested this BMW X3M Competition they had tuned.”
Ostensibly an M3 built on a compact sport-utility platform, the X3M Competition comes out of the factory with a rear-biased all-wheel drive system as well as track-ready brakes, suspension, and cooling, along with a 3.0-liter twin turbocharged inline six cylinder engine that makes 503 horsepower.
With a Dinan 93 octane tune on board, the team had the SUV cranking out more than 600 horsepower at the wheels, while Dinan springs were installed to help get the truck’s center of gravity lower and keep it composed at the track speeds that it would regularly see over the course of the event. Dinan also installed a set of 20-inch wheels that were designed to allow for the widest contact patch possible under the stock bodywork and equipped them with a set of ultra-sticky Yokohama A052 tires.
After the first day’s competition at One Lap of America, starting grid positions are determine by a team’s lap times. As the weather took a turn that gave the Dinan team an all-wheel drive advantage, they suddenly found themselves starting amongst the sportscars that were running at the event.
While the team had a fairly promising start right out of the gate, things really started to turn their way as the competition progressed. “We got lucky – the X3M wasn’t really that hard on the tires considering the amount of power it has and how much it weighs,” Pobst noted. “But the other big factor was that, about 2/3rds of the way through the event, it started raining. And that was a great advantage for us because we had all-wheel drive.”
By the time all was said and done, the team had not only secured the victory in the Truck class, they had landed in ninth overall. “The way the rules work, at the first event you run in numerical order. But after that, they run you by your times for the rest of the event. So suddenly we’re in this grid full of prepped Porsche 911s and Corvettes! We got the biggest kick out of seeing that SUV out in this starting lineup of hardcore sportscars.”
The BMW X3M that Randy drove on One Lap is equipped with a full catalog of Dinan parts, including a flash tune, an intake, exhaust system, and wheels. But most people immediately notice the theme, which emulates the RPO Y81/Y82 "black and gold" Pontiac Trans Am livery from 1977.
He pointed out that Dinan’s tuning played into their success as well. “The car was bloody fast – I mean it goes. But more importantly, I talked to the tuners at Dinan, and they told me that they work very, very hard to make this stuff reliable. One Lap is very much an endurance event – it’s tough on the drivers and it’s tough on the cars. We drove this X3M hard, and it was flawless over the course of the entire event.”
Now back at home in Atlanta, Georgia, Pobst is already getting prepped for his next racing event. “I’m running the Flyin’ Moose this weekend at the Lucky Dog Racing League endurance event at Atlanta Motorsports Park, and then I’m headed to Laguna Seca for the Hypercar Invitational. Pikes Peak Hill Climb is after that – we’re running a Tesla Model S Plaid there, and we’ve got some tough competition this year. Then in July I’m headed to Sonoma Raceway for Holley High Voltage. So there’s a lot of fun stuff coming up.”
Randy with One Lap teammates Enrique Ramirez and Jason Stormowski.