JSN Motors BMW E30 325i Shadowline and 325iS Evo II

1991: Robbi Smith in the BMW E30 325isYears Raced: 1986 - 1993
Owner: JSN Motors
Built and prepared by: the JSN Motors Staff, led by Alec Ceprnich (Technical) and Peter Kaye-Eddie (Team Management)
Driver: Robbi Smith

Restored by:
Evolution 2 Motorsport
Current Owner: JSN Motors

The BMW Dealer who set the benchmark on the road and track: As the saying goes, ‘motorsport improves the breed’. Usually this statement is linked to manufacturers involvement in certain forms of motor racing, lessons learnt here would be implemented into the production line ensuring all road forms provide customer satisfaction.

In retrospect similar circumstances were enforced in local Johannesburg BMW Dealer JSN Motors. The situation may have been a little different as they never had any say in the cars they received from Rosslyn, however they did have an influence on the AC Schnitzer perfected Beemers that they had on offer as extra tuning bits and that were fettled in the workshop. JSN Motors was one of the very few dealers to take to the circuits with an in-house racing program, that’s right, once the daily sales and service duties were completed come five in the afternoon, attention was turned to the racer that would sit in one of the corner bays during the day.

Led by Service Manager Alec Ceprnich, who was also responsible for attending to relations with the AC Schnitzer tuning division as well, the JSN Motors team, made-up by staff members who offered their assistance without overtime pay, took on the full factory efforts of BMW SA led by the late Tony Viana, who performed both preparation and driving duties within the factory crew. Also in the mix during this period of Group N racing was the mighty Opel Motorsport team who were led by Port Elizabeth’s hallowed son Mike Briggs.

Viana and Briggs developed quite a fierce rivalry, while JSN Motors pilot Robbi Smith would always be in the mix and ready to cause an upset. And with a dedicated crew who wanted nothing more than to beat the more established factory teams he did.

Robbi Smith and Alec Ceprnich with the E30 BMW 325i shadowline“I look back on this period as some of my most memorable times in racing,” explains Alec Ceprnich. “The JSN team was made up with mechanics who attended to the daily servicing of cars, Robbi performed all driving duties, while Peter Kaye Eddie handled all managerial aspects of the team and ensured sponsors were kept happy, the team were kitted out on race days and travel arrangements for away events. There was terrific atmosphere in the team, we all worked for one another and strove to provide Robbi with the best car we could muster from the resources we had, while ‘Smurf’ drove his heart out and made us all very proud”.

A certain chemistry developed amongst all staff members within the JSN crew, that same attitude of working together and putting forward the best from what they had contributed to the business becoming a top dealer in South Africa. A key part of this program was dealer principal, the sadly deceased John Stavros, who put the plan into action and provided the money for his guys to go racing. A stern businessman who accepted nothing but the best, Stavros fully backed the JSN racing division, a tribute many would take their hats off to, however at race weekends he would stand to one side and watch the team at work, never interfering unless if asked to help. Obviously come the Monday after the race Stavros would want feedback from the weekend’s events, if things went well he would be satisfied, if they didn’t he wanted solutions.

The JSN Motors racing program was no fly by night operation, the dealer was involved in South African motorsport for many of years. Stand out seasons were 1987 and 1993, with success being reaped with the E30 3 series model. In 1987 Robbi, driving an E30 325i Shadowline, won the Stannic Group N Class inland championship, while in 1993 the team went onto defeat all odds and win the overall Stannic Group N title, and in the same year conquer the Castrol 9 hour event that took place at Killarney.

“We had many great years with the JSN Motors guys, I still hold every team member dear in my heart and consider them as all good friends,” mentions Robbi Smith. “Alec and Peter led the team very well, John Stavros supported us all the way, finally in 1993 in all came together in a season where we broke many lap records on circuits around the country and I managed to win my sixth Castrol endurance event, the most for any South African driver. That year the Firestone/ Firehawk supported JSN Motors run BMW 325is Evo II was simply the class of the field and the best race car I have ever driven, I simply loved that car”.

A rare occasion took place when BMW SA allowed the JSN Motors team keep the 1987 and 1993 BMW’s, over the years to follow similar circumstances would take place to that of the last remaining Viana cars. The two JSN cars would move to different locations as the dealer seeked new premises, from Johannesburg CBD, to Sandgate and now finally Bryanston. However as service volumes increased the cars were no longer able to take up space in the workshops and were forced outside into the staff parking. Here the two legends were left to fend off many weather circumstances, the 325is still appeared at track events, however it became apparent that work was needed on the car as stickers were beginning to peel off, general race preparation was required and engine, gearbox and differential components needed some overhauling. After all the it had, in 1993, competed and won in a 9 hour endurance event, other than having the odd wash here and there, the car never received much mechanical attention.

Restored: the JSN Motors E30 BMW 325is Evo IINaturally there was only one avenue that new dealer principal Starvos Neiphotu, John Stavros’ son, decided would be the best for his two racers. Evolution 2 Motorsport received the somewhat sorry looking shadowline and 325iS Evo II, the two E30’s being reunited with their developer Alec Ceprnich and racer Robbi Smith who was keen to be involved with the restoration process. Both Smith and Ceprnich were given the rights to look after and keep the cars, while also attending select race events to show off the two legends. It must be pointed out that many of the racers from this era of Group N racing are sadly non-existent, other than the original Winfield Viana 325i shadowline, restored and kept by Evolution 2 Motorsport, the two JSN examples are the only other cars still remaining [Editor: the 325iS Evo II was featured in Car Magazine's December issue 2013 Performance Shootout].

The 'A11' 325i Shadowline required a lot of work, the only way to restore it back to its best was to conduct a full re-build. Seeing that the car was intended to compete in historic events it was fitted with a roll cage to increase safety and rigidity of the chassis. The 325iS needed work done on the motor, the gearbox and diff required servicing, while the cosmetics of the car needed a complete do over. A couple of months down the line and the cars were again in tip top condition, just in time for a Top Car magazine shoot that paid tribute to BMW’s racing activities in South Africa. Sadly for Ceprnich and Smith they were asked to part with the two cars as JSN Motors management wished for the two to be displayed in their AC Schnitzer showrooms at their Bryanston buildings.

“It was heart breaking to have to take both cars back to Bryanston, I really enjoyed having them in my workshop and working on them again,” describes Ceprnich. “Once fully restored they both looked magnificent, and perhaps in some ways it is only right that they are displayed in a showroom were people can see and appreciate them. One of Robbi’s and my greatest wishes is that they never land in the wrong hands, and that they are looked after, both are great tributes to Robbi’s terrific racing career and my involvement in the sport. The Shadowline and 325iS Evo II, the car which incidentally provided me with the idea to name my business as Evolution 2 Motorsport, will always have a close place in my heart, who knows one day my wishes may be answered and I will be reunited with them again”.

Both the BMW 325i Shadowline and BMW 325iS Evo II that ran in JSN Motors colors hold many memories and created friendships that everyone who was involved with will cherish for the rest of their lives. Sadly some of the team members like John Stavros, Renato Amaro and Stuart Macke have passed on, however their contributions to the crew will always be remembered and never forgotten.

JSN Motors TeamEvolution 2 Motorsport would like to pay tribute to the JSN Motors Racing Team:

  • John ‘The Boss’ Stavros (JSN Motors Dealer Principal)
  • Alec ‘Oil Leak’ Ceprnich (Service Manager)
  • Peter ‘Old Dog’ Kaye Eddie (Team Manager)
  • Robbi ‘Smurf’ Smith (Team Driver)
  • Geoff ‘Up the Queen’ Goddard (Team Co – Driver)
  • Renato Amaro (Parts Manager)
  • Joe ‘Chihuahua’ Ferreira (JSN Technician)
  • Luis ‘Scavenger’ Lopes (JSN Technician)
  • Antonio Pereira - Tony 1 (JSN Technician)
  • Brent ‘Puppy’ Curtis (JSN Technician)
  • Tony ‘Cabraṓ’ Das Santos – Tony 2  (JSN Technician)
  • Stuart ‘Peg – Leg’ Mackie  (JSN Technician)
  • José ‘Appy’ Pereira  (JSN Technician)
  • Bruce Harre (Bridgestone / Firestone Tyre Engineer)
  • Moreno Gallo (Bridgestone SA for Firestone / Firehawk)

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