The day I have been waiting for is here. A trip to South Carolina to visit the BMW site that hosts the driver test track experience. A little fun on a day off with one of my favorites in tow.
We arrived on time. Another guy from California rolled in a few minutes later. A couple of others no-showed. We had a small group which meant more time and attention for us. A little classroom time to start the day. I thought I was a good driver but I picked up a few tips from the class that I will use in daily life. Safety was a focus but we did also talk about how people do crash. The key was listen and follow directions and all will be good. I just rolled with it.
The instructor was a skilled drifting driver. A first for me to meet. A first for me to drift with. Such a cool experience. Of course we didn’t just jump right into drifting, rather we started with off road driving. Below is one of the few pictures I took when it was my turn to drift. Drifting was fast. Drifting was definitely an adrenaline rush, but not something I need to do again.
Our first course we hit was off-road. All terrain. The off road experience was easily my favorite. Not sure I want to do it again but it was a memorable experience. We climbed up river rocks. We suspended the vehicle on the descent with two back tires in the air. We used some vehicle traction features to ease down the incline of rocks.
We waded through rushing water with water higher than my comfort level but great to experience what that is like in a controlled environment. We definitely went through some mud puddles too. We went over a tight squeeze bridge then we had the vehicle on two right wheels then two left wheels to get a better view out the window of how we were positioned (almost tipped). This is how the flexed the sturdy BMW design.
I could see the car in front of me so I knew what it looked like before I experienced each and every maneuver. I don’t think that was the best for my anxiety but I did it all with the go for it attitude. Phew. I survived that one. We then moved on to the race track itself.
Four cars. A 3, 4, and 5 series car along with a convertible. The M package was on all. My favorite was the 5 series with some upgraded exhaust. It handled well and I felt the pickup was good. The 4 was a close second but it had racing seats. They looked good but seemed a little less comfortable for my style of driving. The x3 was okay. A little smaller than the x5 we used off road, but it handled curves well and had good pickup. A little surprising but overall my third favorite on the track. Last up for me was the convertible. It was more stiff in drive and comfort. It moved but just seemed far below the others for standards and was definitely my slower lap time.
Very cool experience overall. Kudos to BMW for having such great experiences available. Amazing brand awareness built into the day. Especially when the day ends in the gift shop. If you ever have the opportunity to participate in a driving experience like this, go for it. It’s just one of those excursions you should give a try. You really won’t know what it’s like until you are in the driver’s seat.
For me I topped out at about 79 on a straight away going into a curve. I’m happy with that for my first time as a race car driver. However I was a little slower than the two guys who hit 88-90 on the same stretch. I’m not mad as the instructor said go your way and don’t worry about others. However I could see the car behind coming pretty darn fast behind me. Also I didn’t hit any cones on the course. I give my instructor credit for coaching as I always hit a barrier when I go go karting!
It was time to leave and hit the real road again. Go normal speeds and not whip around corners. What an adjustment after 27 race car laps. The real road again. It almost seemed like a turtle’s pace sitting in traffic on the highway after this experience. I mean going from race car driver to 35mph was a little adjustment. Just a little.