‘Loaded’ BMW M3 CSL – part 2

Anders Fransson and Richard GoranssonWelcome to this exclusive AUSringers interview with Anders Fransson (left) and Richard Göransson (right), two of the key men behind the story of the 2003 BMW M3 CSL known as ‘Loaded’. An introduction to the car was given in part 1 of this special, if you have not read that article it is well worth a look. Suffice to say, on 5 November 2007, ‘Loaded’ entered the record books with a Nordschleife lap time of 7 minutes 22.8 seconds. Making this the fastest lap time by a road registered car, ever.

AUSringers: Anders, when you first bought your M3 CSL did you always intend to turn it into a weapon to attack a Nordschleife record?
Anders Fransson: No, not the first three months. But I’m the kind of person who thinks that things have to have a meaning and after three months with the CSL it wasn’t exciting anymore. I’ve also always wanted to do things differently with almost everything I do. Not always the best, mind you, but different. I saw a movie back in 2003 with a Swedish CSL on the Ring and I thought wow what an exciting track! I’d like to do that as well. That’s when the ‘misery’ started. I contacted an old experienced racer in Sweden who among others has won Le Mans and asked if he knew Hans-Joachim Stuck, because I really wanted him to drive the car. But he told me that I didn’t want an ‘old guy’ for this crazy project, instead, a young gun who is adventurous enough and the name he gave me was Richard Göransson. What was even more crazy was that Göransson had not driven on the Ring either, prior to all of this. Oh boy! But it all came out fine in the end. Göransson has shown great endurance as well.

Ar: Did you set yourself a budget and a time limit with this project, or was it a case of spend whatever it takes for as long as it takes until I reach my goal?
AF: It’s fortunate that I didn’t know beforehand where this project would lead in terms of pure cost. If I had known, I probably would have diagnosed myself as utterly crazy. It has been one great big adventure and in that meaning it has been worth every penny. Every single upgrade to reach the goal for the car has been carefully processed for necessity and then a search for funding.

Ar: Richard, well done on your lap, 7 minutes 22.8 seconds, is that the fastest time you have driven around the Nordschleife?
Richard Göransson: Thanks. This was my fastest lap around just the Nordschleife. But the quickest I’ve driven, I think, was when I raced the BMW Z4M Coupe. Then, I drove the track in 8 minutes 30 seconds, including the Grand Prix circuit.

Ar: Which was the more satisfying for you, the time set in ‘Loaded’ or your class win in the 2007 Nürburgring 24 hour race?
RG: I enjoyed the ‘Loaded’ time the most because it has been such a long project where things really haven’t gone our way all the time.

Ar: Anders, congratulations on your success with ‘Loaded’, you had a target time of 7 minutes 28 seconds, can you tell me what your thoughts were when you saw Richard’s time was comfortably under your target?
AF: I got a burning sensation in my stomach when I got an SMS from him sitting in ‘Loaded’ out on the track. The first time that came in was 7 minutes 26.9 seconds and that was only a test lap, with the tyres barely up to temperature at all. I had a feeling that it would go very well. I told Richard to take it easy because we had a pretty good margin. Then when he came in after the first serious attack with the time 7 minutes 22.8 seconds it felt really, really good. Three years of a crazy project came to an end. Everyone who has seen the movie Gladiator with Russell Crowe will surely remember the beginning of the film after the great battle against the Germanians with the Emperor making a sigh of relief after Maximus’ ‘Victorious!’ scream. That’s exactly the feeling I got. The feeling of winning a major battle. Indescribable!

Ar: Richard, you broke the target time by over 5 seconds, did you ever think the car was capable of exceeding target by so much?
RG: For sure I thought it was possible, otherwise I wouldn’t try.

Ar: How many laps did it take to set your best time and did you try again to improve it?
RG: I think we did five installation laps and two record attempts. The second attempt was the quickest and then the day was over. I think we could go at least 10 seconds quicker with the car like it was, but with more development I think we can go 15 seconds quicker. It’s a matter of finding the right damper adjustmens, spring rates, ride heights, camber, rollbar and toe. But at this time attack we did no development of these parts, they were ‘out-of-the-box’.

Ar: Anders, there was a minor problem last November when the front splitter fell off on Döttinger Höhe, over the entire project were there other problems you had to overcome?
AF: You can bet on that. Our first serious attempt was made in connection with the Scuderia Hanseat course in the autumn of 2005. We were guaranteed to rent the entire Nordschleife for one hour, after the course drivers had done their final ‘exams’, at a price of 3500 EUR. Five minutes before our time was to start the skies opened up and the worst rain ever started blazing down on us. There was nothing more to do but cancel the whole thing, pay and look happy. It felt very bad. Six months of planning with tons of people involved together with sponsors and then it all rained away. What is good about that event, though, is that if we did make an attempt, we would not have gone below 7 minutes 30 seconds. So nothing bad that doesn’t bring anything good.

Then we have had troubles with brakes that suppliers have sold to us that later showed to be pretty much lethal. We have had suspension companies that have tried to build specially adapted suspension kits but have failed. We have had a lot of challenges but we don’t think about them anymore.

Ar: Richard, on your record lap you caught some traffic on the exit of Bergwerk and Galgenkopf, did that greatly affect your time and is it normal to have to share the track like that?
RG: For sure, I lost some time from this, but how much is difficult to say. It’s always difficult to find exclusive time at the track so we need to drive when it’s possible.

Ar: Which part of the track was the most fun in this car?
RG: I have always enjoyed the section between Adenauer-Forst and Bergwerk. But the whole track is fantastic!

Ar: Anders, the car is road registered and all modifications have full TÃœV approval, was it hard to gain that certification?
AF: No, they are very used to inspecting and clearing rebuilt vehicles in Germany.

Ar: Richard, we know that ‘Loaded’ is a road registered car, but how does the performance compare to your 320i STCC race car?
RG: ‘Loaded’ has a lot more power, but on the racecar we use slick tyres, so it’s two completely different cars.

Ar: Anders, had you always intended to sell the car once you had reached your objectives?
AF: Yes. I think that you should sell it as soon as possible to avoid getting stuck with a car like this which is easier said than done. If you do get stuck with it you often tend to ruin it by rebuilding it and adding stuff to it and what-not. Unless your name is Jay Leno and you have the opportunity to collect all the cars you like, haha. It is, as previously stated, a challenge with everything the project demands. Even searching for funding makes you feel alert and you get a kick when you come through with the financing. This sort of goes away when you collect cars. It’s a totally different challenge that doesn’t suit me. As I said, I have always strived to be different.

Ar: You’re selling the car on bid2aid, a lowest-unique-bid auction website, which is an interesting concept, can you please tell us more about that?
AF: I came in contact with this form of auction in early 2007 and I thought it was exciting. So I looked around to see if I could tie something up with an already existing auction company, but I realised that too much money would go to the company, so I decided to build a solution myself. I wanted, together with my closest friends, to create something to say thank you to all the fantastic support I’ve received throughout the years. That’s when the idea was born to auction the car off for 5 EUR a bid. Now everyone has a chance to purchase ‘Loaded’ which feels good. It was also very important after all this success to help the needy in our society. Different commitments to help fight AIDS felt important to help out with, so I got a tip through my favorite DJ Tiësto, one of the leading DJ’s in the world with a big heart who also helps support this kind of charity. It had to be Dance4Life.

Ar: When does the auction finish and has it attracted much interest?
AF: I think that with the speed the bids are coming in now, it will finish in May-June 2008. It’s amazing that it’s actually more Australians than English who are placing bids. It’s weird because Australia is on the other side of the globe! Today we only have 8% from Sweden who are placing bids and 92% from other countries. This shows how fantastic the support is that we have gotten throughout the years from all over the world. We have visitors from a total of 130 different countries at www.loaded.se. Amazing!

Ar: You have invested a lot into this car, financially and emotionally, do you think you will be sad to see it go?
AF: Both yes and no. Emotionally yes, and financially, no. Haha. It feels like I’m done with this project and I want to move on with new challenges. It feels good emotionally as well actually. I know that so much love, excitement and money has been put into this project and that the new owner will win a car with an amazing history and incredible performance.

Ar: Have you worked on any other projects like this before and do you have plans for another big project in future?
AF: This was my first project of this magnitude. I will definitely do more. I have already been contacted by a Swedish car brand that wants to do a copy of the ‘Loaded’ project. I’m holding back a little to find the right ingredients though. Any new project will have to trigger me 100 per cent, otherwise I’ll let it be. The ‘Loaded’ project is something that I can stand behind 100 per cent without regretting or being embarrased for anything. I think it has satisfied me and the rest of the world even though it took several years. It is important that a project triggers hard to survive when the times are tough. Never quit, never surrender. I have one wish though. And that is to be given the possibility to build any vehicle of choice for the Ring with Jägermeister as a sponsor. That would be cool.

A book will come out during 2008 which I will call ‘The Loaded Story’. In it will be plenty of pictures and all the little moments that one barely remembers. A longer DVD will also be released with a gathering of all our collected film on it. We have recorded about 60 hours of material over three years. It will give me plenty of nice moments this year. And I will, of course, drive my racecar on Swedish tracks too. A BMW M3 CSL track car.

Thank you Australia for all your support and for triggering Loaded’s progress on the Nürburgring. See you all soon.

Ar: Richard, I understand you and Anders are good friends, do you have any plans to work with him again in the future?
RG: As long as Anders can show me a nice prospect on new challenges, he knows I will do it.

I’d like to thank Anders and Richard for their time, I’m sure all AUSringers readers wish them the best for their future endeavours. Keep an eye out here for more details when ‘The Loaded Story’ is released.

For more information, follow the links below:

Image credits: Where indicated, images have been supplied with thanks to Frozenspeed Motorsport Photography, first image courtesy of Anders Fransson, image of ‘Loaded’ parked in pits courtesy of Martin Palm.