We all dread those annoying newsletter sign up requests, but boy am I glad to be on BMW’s list because they invited me out to the BMW M Track Days event for a day full of driving. Basically for those of you not familiar with this program, BMW runs a paid driving program for anyone who wants to take part in a private track driving experience in their fleet of BMW M models including the new F87 M2. They have 3 locations throughout the states and we just happen to be only 2 hours away from one – BMW Performance Center West in Thermal, CA. This time around, BMW offered a complimentary #MTrackDays half day experience which included a timed autocross event in a M4 Competition Package, drag racing, instructional hot laps and a driving demo with a professional instructor. How can I refuse?
On the day we went, BMW ran 2 sessions. There was an 8AM and 2PM session. We got out bright and early for the 8AM. This is the main building where you check in and attend briefing. This time around they had a F82 M4 M Performance Safety Car along with 2 other M Performance-decked M3’s.
We checked in and sat around until everyone for the 8AM was here. They gave us these cool lanyards also.
This is where the briefing takes place. Before each session, everyone will go over a Powerpoint presentation, explained by a professional driving instructor, to go over a few basic driving techniques including hitting the apex, cause of over/understeer, vehicle specifications, track layout, etc. It’s about a 15 minutes presentation.
Oh, did I mention the snacks?
The view of South Palm Pits walking out from the main building.
After the presentation was done, we were split up into groups. Our group went straight for the timed auto cross in the F82 M4 Competition package.
Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of the auto cross, but I did get some of the M2’s waiting for us at the North Palm. The instructor went over a few details of the track and we quickly went out on track for some instructor-lead laps.
Here’s the F87 M2 we got into. This one was a bit different from the others. Can anyone spot the difference?
Holy shit the M2 is so fun to drive! This event was speed-restricted, but if you follow closely to the instructor’s M235i, he’ll start playing with you. I tailed him a bit and he started driving a little more aggressively. Ever since I drove this, I can’t stop thinking about it. It packs as much fun as an M235i, but drives more planted.
After the M2, we headed to South Palm where there were F80 M3s waiting for us. It’s so easy driving these cars at such a high level. The instructors really make you feel trusted in these cars and even encourage you to take it to M1 mode where the DSC doesn’t kick in as much. We did a few laps around the big track and finally by this point we were hungry.
After all 4 sessions were done, we headed over to a pop up tent where there was an i8 and a M4 GTS displayed out front.
The tent was holding a lunch meeting!
What are these carbon fiber boxes? Gifts?
Carbon fiber lunch box?!
During the lunch reception, they gave us a little thank you speech for all the attendees and unveiled the winners for the fastest auto cross lap times. Oddly enough, the fastest 3 drivers were in the same group as me and I actually came in 1st place. They gave me a $50 gas card to Shell along with this cool M keychain!
They gave everyone who attended a free gift bag with this cool BMW coffee mug inside.
I’ve been to a few of these driving events and the thing that separates BMW’s program are the instructors. Of course, the cars are the main reason why you’re here, but this is a driving school and you’re here to become a better driver. You can’t really learn and understand driving technique without actually experiencing it. And to experience it, you have to have the confidence to go out and drive at a high level. The instructors really let you get comfortable and drive at a high level. Of course, you have to know your limit and if the instructors do see you squirreling off the track, they will flag you and potentially kick you off the track for the rest of the day, but I was amazed at the level of comfort and freedom you’re put in at this “free” event. If you’re close to one of the three Performance Centers, I definitely recommend you check out the BMW M Track Days website to enroll in some classes, especially when they’re free!