Chandler Hull drove the #94 BimmerWorld Racing M4 GT3 in the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Pro-Am class this year with Bill Auberlen. Though he is relatively new to racing, Hull has come on strong over the last few years and had a very successful season with Auberlen, getting on the podium nine times in thirteen races, including a big class win in the season finale Indy 8-Hour along with Auberlen and Richard Heistand. Hull has raced so much over the last few years that he celebrated his 100th race with BMW at the Sebring race in September and he’s getting better with every race.
BimmerLife: How did you get into racing?
Chandler Hull: I took my street car to a track day when my parents were out of town, about six years ago. I did track days for about eighteen months, and then a mutual friend with James Clay and I introduced us. I bought a Spec E46 and did that for a year, then moved up to TC (TC America in SRO with an M240i Racing) and did that for two years, and in the second year of that I also did a joint program in an M4 GT4, with Classic BMW (now Fast Track Racing). Last year was GT4 with BimmerWorld and a few races in DTM Trophy, the 24H Series with ST Racing and seven of the VLN races at the Nürburgring with Jon Miller and Walkenhorst Motorsport. I also did my first race last year in a GT3 car (M6 GT3) with Walkenhorst in the Asian Le Mans Series. It’s been a steep climb, but I have some pretty good people around helping me.
BL: Did the racing schools you went through and then racing in Spec E46 do a good job of preparing you for pro racing?
CH: Yeah, I did the BMW CCA Club Racing school in 2018 I think, the SCCA school and the NASA school. I then just loaded up the trailer and drove cross-country a couple times hitting everyplace I could that had a good competitive field. There was plenty of talent. I didn’t just show up and was quick. It took some work, and I earned it.
BL: What was the experience like in moving up through faster cars, from a Spec E46 to an M240i then to the M4 GT4?
CH: The Spec E46 had a five-speed manual and was a pretty potent, lightweight car. The M240i Racing was pretty heavy and still a street car with the same engine and transmission, but it was a factory-built race car so it had that coolness factor. It was significantly faster (than the Spec E46), but it drove differently with a different suspension setup and geometry. Doing TC (with M240i) and GT4 (with M4 GT4) at the same time, the GT4 car didn’t have a boosted brake pedal and it went faster, but it was relatively easy to go from one to the other. The M240i Racing would get into the ABS almost immediately and it was hard to modulate, but with the M4 GT4 being unboosted you have to hammer on the brake pedal and then you feel the ABS and just pull a little bit out and it’s actually a lot easier to modulate.
BL: Was it difficult to get used to a GT3 car after driving the M4 GT4?
CH: The acceleration difference was unbelievable. The first time I let off the pit speed limiter in the M6 GT3 it just threw my head back. It’s fast. It took a while to be able to trust the downforce, that the car was going to stick itself to the ground. It didn’t help that the first time I drove the M6 GT3 was at Dubai, and the first sector at Dubai is probably one of the fastest sectors of any track. You’re basically almost flat out through the entire section, but once you get used to the downforce, it’s a nice thing to be able to lean on.
BL: Is the M4 GT3 easier to drive fast than the M6 GT3 was?
CH: Significantly. The learning curve with the M6 GT3 was huge, because it was originally built as a GTLM/GTE car, so it’s a lot more complicated with a lot more steps to go through. With the M4 GT3, you turn the ignition on, push start and go. It’s pretty idiot proof I would say. The M6 GT3 had an actual clutch pedal that was kind of hard to modulate. The M4 GT3 has an e-clutch, and all you have to do is put a little throttle into it and dump the clutch and it just works itself out. The driveability and turn-in with the M4 GT3 is also better, and it has better tire wear. With the inline-six in the M4 versus the V8 in the M6, there’s less weight on the nose and it turns in easier and rotates easier. The M4 is actually a few millimeters longer, taller and wider than the M6, but it drives smaller.
BL: How did it turn out that you did so many races in different countries over the last couple of years? Were you just trying to gain as much experience as you could or were there specific tracks you wanted to race on?
CH: When I was doing club racing, I would just get in the car and drive to anyplace that would fit in my schedule, and it made sense to me. I saw Europe and the rest of the world like that, where if it fit in my schedule it was a good chance to get seat time. I was just trying to get as much experience as I could. I think that helped shorten my learning curve.
BL: What was it like the first time you raced on the Nürburgring Nordschleife?
CL: Terrifying. You have to go through their school, so there’s some classroom instruction to learn where to go on the track. Then you do some driving. I think you have to do something like eight or eleven laps to get signed off on, and they have really good instructors doing it where you go out in groups of two or three so they can keep an eye on you. I spent probably six months on the simulator learning the corner names. On the tracks here in the US, you don’t get lost and the radio always works. On the Nordschleife, your radio doesn’t work on about half the track. You get every possible scenario thrown at you on that track and no lap is the same.
BL: Do you have a bucket list of races you’d like to do or win?
CH: I’d probably say the standard ones, Daytona, Le Mans, the Nürburgring, Spa.
BL: Talk to me a little about bouncing back after your wreck at VIR earlier this year. You seemed to come back stronger than ever after that and have been driving great this year. (Hull had a crash in pre-season testing at VIR, which wrote off the second M4 GT3 that BimmerWorld was supposed to race this season).
CH: It probably took me three or four days of sitting on the couch and thinking about it which probably wasn’t the best thing to do, but one day I just said to myself that I’m over it and I need to move forward. It was the biggest wreck I’ve had but it wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last. Everybody goes through that at some point. I just had to file it back in the subconscious and not think about it anymore. The next time we went back there it wasn’t an issue and I went faster.
BL: What’s it been like driving for a full season with Bill Auberlen this year?
CH: Bill’s here to win. He always has been. It’s been extremely beneficial to drive alongside him. A couple of years ago I never thought I would even be here, especially sharing a seat with him. It’s pretty crazy. He’s pretty tough. He’ll just say, “don’t do that, do this,” and that’s the end of it. So, you go out there and do this and not that. Our driving styles are pretty similar, and if he says the car is good and fast, I’ll go with that.
BL: Do you drive a BMW on the street?
CH: I just sold my M3 CS (F80), but I have an X5 on order. The M3 was a little rough on the Dallas roads. I need something a little higher off the ground for Dallas.
[Photos by David Haueter and courtesy SRO]