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Friday, October 15, 2010

My Visit to BMW Performance Center: Driving School for the 1-Day M Class

There's nothing better than an unexpected surprise in your mail.

And that's what I received back in February of this year. An invitation to a free one day M driving school at the BMW Performance Center in Spartanburg, SC. Free class, free hotel, free food. All I needed to do was pay for my flight and rental car (<$500) and you could have the joy of driving BMW M3's, M5's, and M6's for a day with performance instructors. Pretty cool!

So, I quickly dialed up my buddy Josh (a free guest is included) and we settled on a date, September 27, 2010...7 months down the road. At times, it seemed like the day would never come and then quickly it snuck up on me as we moved houses and all of that kind of jazz.

For me, being the dedicated United Airlines flyer I am, it was not easy to get to even Charlotte, NC about 70 miles north of Spartanburg, SC. (1k with free unlimited first class upgrades helps!)

I awoke on the morning of September 26th in a haze at about 3:45am, just enough time to jump in the shower, get ready, and make it to LAX in time for my flight. Even taking the 6:00am flight out of Los Angeles (oversold, how does that happen on a Sunday 6:00am flight?) I still didn't make it to Charlotte, NC until about 5:00pm where I met up with Josh and we did the 90 minute drive to Greenville/Spartanburg, NC.

The BMW Performance Center puts you up in the Marriott Spa and Resort there in Greenville and let me tell you, they do it right. You get a nice room, free breakfast and dinner for the nights you're there with free Internet and all of that jazz. Compliments of BMW...all with the purchase of a BMW M3.

The only issue on the Sunday night we arrived is that there was no beer being served outside the city limits, due to the local law. So, we headed to the Quaker Steak and Lube and enjoyed some good food, some beer and watched Sunday night football...before getting a great night's sleep.

We got up in the morning, ate our free breakfast buffet and jumped on the shuttle to head over to the BMW Performance Center. The hotel was full of BMW employees from the area and from Germany...although us "tourists" were pretty easy to spot in our casual attire. Once we arrived at the center, it was time to begin. Our lead instructor for the day Matt greeted us by telling us how they change the course and school on days where it is wet like today. They simply tell us to do one thing...that is turn on the windshield wipers.

Rather than walking you blow by blow through the day, below are the picture, video and story from an absolutely amazing day at the BMW Performance Center. I'm definitely going to head back something net year for the 2-day version of the class!

Here we are entering the BMW Performance Center. The fun is just about ready to begin!Here we are entering the BMW Performance Center.  The fun is just about ready to begin!

Josh shares our first schwag for the day, free BMW M Performance Driving School pens. We're getting ready for our basic introduction and training before hitting the track.
Josh shares our first schwag for the day, free BMW M Performance Driving School pens.  We're getting ready for our basic introduction and training before hitting the track.

Oh, what a lineup that is! 6 M3's (3 e90 sedans, 3 e92 coupes), 6 M5's (e60), and 6 M6's (e63). It's a little wet out, but that will make things a little more fun.
Oh, what a lineup that is!  6 M3's (3 e90 sedans, 3 e92 coupes), 6 M5's (e60), and 6 M6's (e63).  It's a little wet out, but that will make things a little more fun.

My M5 for the day. Ready to hit the skipad.
<br />My M5 for the day.  Ready to hit the skipad.

Josh and I hanging out in the M5; observing and ready to roll.
Josh and I hanging out in the M5; observing and ready to roll.

Here I am in front of my 2011 e90 M3 with DCT and Competition Package sedan for the day, check out the sweet wheels. I was very happy to have the 4-door sedan which basically was the alter-ego for my daily driver; a Jet Black e90 M3 Sedan.
Here I am in front of my 2011 e90 M3 with DCT and Competition Package sedan for the day, check out the sweet wheels.  I was very happy to have the 4-door sedan which basically was the alter-ego for my daily driver; a Jet Black e90 M3 Sedan.

Here are some videos for the driving experience that I've posted on YouTube.

BMW M5 e60 - Full Drift 360 around Skipad - M School BMW Performance Center. Demo by the driving instructors to show us "how it's done!" We also got to go for a ride-along with each one which was a blast!


See the BMW M6 E63 on the cornering and acceleration activities at the BMW Performance Driving Center one day M School. Hear the acceleration and the active coaching from the instructors as the M6 goes around the track. This exercise was a ton of fun being able to open up the M6 down the back stretch.


The latest e90 / e92 BMW M3 with the competition package put through it's paces at the one day M Driving School at the BMW Performance Center in Greenville, SC. This exercise in the morning takes you through acceleration into a double apex turn before getting back on the power as you head up the hill. Great way to get to know your M3!


From the dual skidpad race at the BMW Performance Driving school at the 1-day M-School for BMW M3 owners. This is the final championship run for the "Blue" group with two M6's racing each other 10 laps around the short track. Oversteer, understeer, drifting. Who wins? Watch the Video to find out.

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