What's a typical race weekend like for you?
We're responsible for monitoring the telemetry on the engine, to keep an eye out for anomalies. Usually, after each session we'll pull the plugs and check inside the engine with a scope to make sure everything is healthy. We're also responsible for monitoring the traction control track to track, as the coefficient of friction changes. We work on development throughout the year to reduce weight, lower the center of gravity, improve gas mileage and reduce friction inside the engine. (Note: It should be said here that Dinan engines have only had one mechanical failure and that was due to a bad circuit board, not to the engine itself).
Are there any weaknesses of the BMW V8, as a racing engine?
If the engine has an Achilles heel, it would be if you needed it for high-rpm applications, but in Grand Am that's not a factor, as the rules are made to keep the rpm down so the motors last a long time. The reason the BMW V8 wouldn't be ideal for high rpm running is because the firing order of the engine causes a lot of torsional wrapup on the crankshaft. When a front cylinder is fired, the crank twists the whole length and then oscillates back and forth until it reaches equilibrium. The Pontiac engine fires a front cylinder and then a back one, which gives the crank a chance to dampen out before firing another one at the front. That's the secret to making a V8 that can handle higher rpm, but for some reason, BMW didn't go with that firing order - I don't know if it's because they don't have as much experience with V8's or because they feel it makes more torque that way, but the design doesn't work well with higher rpm.