Rally Racer Bill Caswell To Build a Baja Vehicle from the Miller Booth
July 1, 2010
Rally racer Bill Caswell will be on site at the 2010 SEMA trade show to completely overhaul his signature late-'80s BMW. Catch all the action from the Miller booth (#23913 in the Racing and Performance Pavilion).
In the September DIY issue, Miller Electric Mfg. Co. teased a special development planned for 2010 SEMA, the world's largest automotive products specialty show (Nov. 2 – 5 in Las Vegas). Miller is pleased to announce that Bill Caswell, the ultimate do-it-yourselfer, will be on site with us at SEMA (Miller booth #23913 in the Racing and Performance pavilion ), to completely overhaul his signature, late-’80s BMW into a Baja vehicle, which he will then race in the upcoming SCORE Baja 1000 (Nov. 17 – 21).
A hardcore racing fanatic, but an amateur nonetheless, Caswell made a name for himself in March of this year by placing third in the Rally America class of Rally Mexico, an FIA-sanctioned event run concurrently with World Rally Championship in Corona, Mexico.
Racing alongside professional cars valued at $400,000 or more, Caswell (and co-driver Ben Slocum) competed in a 1991 BMW 318i that he bought off Craigslist for a mere $500, and modified and fabricated himself.
This time he will transform a similar BMW into a Baja machine, performing the welds from the Miller booth. As part of the Baja 1000 BMW build, Caswell will complete the following stages in four short days:
-Day One – Main Roll Cage
-Day Two – Front Cage and Suspension
-Day Three – Rear Cage and Suspension
-Day Four – Accessories, including complete main cage structure, front brush guard, fuel cell, light bar, safety gear and exhaust.
Who Is Bill Caswell? A Bio:
Previously a finance banker from Chicago, Caswell traded in the corner office for his mom’s garage where he began to put his real passions to work.
As Caswell made the transition from suit and tie to rally racer, he quickly realized ramping up his welding skills would lead to cost-savings when building race cars.
“When I knew I was going rally-racing, I figured I would put the car into a tree at my first event; it never happened but rally cra shes can be pretty severe with trees and boulders lining the stages," said Caswell with a smile. “I figured if I am going to do that, I need to learn how to build my own roll cages because they are the most expensive and complicated part of building an inexpensive race car.”
Previously, he had only done basic welding (i.e., brackets) using what he called rudimentary equipment and had little confidence to try much else.
“I decided I should take some welding classes and learn to do this right,” Caswell said. “Turns out, when I brought home the Millermatic® 212, it worked so well out of the box that I never got around to taking those classes.”
With the Auto-Set feature available on the Millermatic® 212 Auto-Set™, Caswell quickly became an accomplished welder.
"I simply set the machine to the thickness of the metal I was welding and it worked flawlessly," Caswell said. “The penetration was great with no burn-through."
“I know it sounds strange, but I’d say that the Auto-Set feature makes me a better welder,” said Caswell. “Now I spend my time focusing on the weld pool and adjusting the angle of the torch instead of playing with wire speed and voltage settings like on older style welders.”
After 19 months of hardcore rally-racing, welding and life in the garage, Caswell’s finally ready to take the next step—his toughest test yet.
“I grew up watching the Baja 1000 race, and actually running it has been a lifelong dream of mine,” said Caswell. “Welding is probably the most critical part of prepping the car for a Baja race, and I’m excited to finish the car and get underway.”
Want to cheer him on? Catch all the SEMA action and Baja vehicle transformation here. We're gearing up and have plenty in store for fans, such as live welding demos in the booth and, for those who can't attend, daily social media updates from the show floor.
While not open to the general public, the show brings together more than 100,000 industry experts and the hottest products to the Las Vegas Convention Center for four action-packed days.
Caswell fans can also visit Caswell Motorsports for more information on his future racing activities.