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View Full Version : B-Fest San Diego Caravan (RANT)


ManicMechanic
05-03-2009, 10:27 PM
THIS IS GOING TO BE A LONG POST AND WILL PISS SOME PEOPLE OFF

First let me tell you a bit about myself. I'm 45 years old. I'm an experienced driver with extensive race-track experience. I often joke that the only time I'm intimidated driving is on the freeways with the minivans. 9 times out of 10 when I'm driving on the freeway and I'm near a fellow BMW driver, I feel a little more comfortable. I am usually pretty confident the BMW driver isn't going to do something stupid. I drive hard, I drive aggressively. I don't usually obey speed limits and I know the legal risks of that. I really enjoy driving a BMW and truly believe they are the ultimate driving machines.

My wife and I went to our first Bimmerfest in 2006. At the time I had a 2001 330ci Medium Topaz Blue with the ZHP package. I loved that car! What a blast to drive. She wanted to join the caravan up and I was resistant to it. "I don't want to drive in a caravan, it will be 50 mph all the way up" But, I relented, to make my wife happy. (Married guys, nod your head) We got to the Carlsbad Outlet Mall and admired everyone's cars, then came time to take off. When we hit the 5, I was pleasantly surprised. We were moving along at a healthy clip, everyone respecting everyone else and having a good time. We were mostly staying in one continuous line. My only complaint with that caravan was when we were pulling out of the parking lot of the park in Encino was it was a zoo getting back on the freeway, but that's one of the problems with a large group of vehicles. As we got closer and closer to Santa Barbara, couldn't help but notice that the LEO's were pulling over more and more BMW's. Had a good time at Bimmerfest that year.

We went to Bimmerfest again in 2007, but we wanted to go to the Vintner's Festival in Santa Ynez being held the same weekend. Since we were following a different itinerary that year, we didn't go up with the caravan. Had another good time at Bimmerfest and also had some good wines at the Vintner's Festival.

2008 found us without a BMW in our stable (sad year) so we didn't go to Bimmerfest.

We recently picked up a 2003 325i in the same Medium Topaz Blue as the 01 330ci, so we decided to join the fun at Bimmerfest again. We had a good time with the caravan, so we decided to join up with the caravan again. I read on here that the caravan was leaving the Carlsbad Mall at 0530 AM. We got a little bit of a late start, so we pulled into the parking lot at 0515 AM. Much to our surprise, the caravan was already pulling out! We got on the 5 with the group and immediately a couple of M3's were driving like Jack's. "Hey, that's no biggie. Gotta show your stuff to the fellow BMW enthusiasts, right?"

I was a little dumbfounded when the caravan started to stack up. (It looked like a pool break) Someone comes over the radio and says we're driving slow to let the UTC group catch up. WHY DID THE CARAVAN TAKE OFF EARLY IF THE UTC GROUP HADN'T GOTTEN THERE YET?

We were towards the back, so we were seeing the non-BMW folks getting pretty frustrated trying to get past this cluster of slow-moving BMWs. The BMWs were scattered all over the 5, effectively blocking the freeway. I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO RESPECT OTHER DRIVERS WHEN YOU'RE IN A LARGE GROUP. THE CARAVAN SHOULD HAVE KEPT TO ONE LANE. (Nearly impossible, I know, but it's a goal) THIS IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT WHEN YOU'RE DRIVING SLOWLY.

There were still some people driving a bit erratically. One guy even passed me on the right shoulder doing about 100 mph. It was obvious we were attracting the attention of the Border Patrol officers near the checkpoint, because they were flashing their lights at us. (This can't be good)

The group pretty much stayed that way all the way up to Orange County. We were cruising along, kinda slow, blocking most of the freeway, pissing other driver's off. We start coming up to the 5/405 split and we are getting closer and closer to the 405 exit and I'm thinking to myself. "I thought the OC meetup was off the 405, we seem to be taking the 5" About that time, there's this mad dash to the right as the group dive's to catch the 405 exit. I'm in full ABS mode, trying to keep from rear-ending a minivan (ironic, huh). Fortunately, I keep our vehicles from kissing. I look up in my mirror and I see a Silver 5 series bearing down on us. (I don't know who you are, but I compliment your driving skill. I don't know how you missed me.) At that point, in frustration, I decide to abandon the caravan and go up by myself. I hop back on the 5 and go past the group that was nearly a 30 car pileup. There are 5 or 6 BMW's sitting in the median, having nearly missed the exit entirely.

We made a couple of pitstops for refreshments and body functions along the way and we're heading up the 101 around Agoura Hills and catch up to the caravan again. To my amazement, it's still a loose unorganized group. Still blocking the freeway, someone's up front with their head out of the sunroof taking some photos or video. The "civilians" are still frustrated trying to get past. I ended up working my way past the caravan by following a Chevy Astro van and passing on the right side. We had to use the exit ramps to get past. The BMW group had the freeway completely blocked, all lanes. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE YOUR ULTIMATE DRIVING MACHINE BE PASSED ON THE RIGHT BY A CHEVY COMMUTER-BOX?

Again, as we get closer to Santa Barbara, it's obvious that the LEO's are targeting BMW's. This time I think we brought it on ourselves. Don't you think they were radioing up ahead, telling the other officers about us blocking the freeway and driving like morons? I was witness to the CHP in the all white car pulling over for the two guys peeing by the side of the road. Nice. (By the way, you were less than a mile from an exit)

Once we got to Bimmerfest, we had a good time. Saw some cool cars, some cool parts, met some cool people. I tip my hat to the organizers for the new venue. The polo grounds was much easier to get in and out of, much easier to park. I would only suggest more food/beverage booths.

I'm torn between saying "I'll never ever drive up in the caravan again" and the other alternative "I'm going to organize a SAFE and SANE caravan next year."

Here are some suggestions for caravanning:

Have a schedule and stick to it. IF YOU CHANGE THE PLAN, IT CAUSES CHAOS.

Hold a pre-caravan briefing and get everyone's attention.
MARK THE LEAD CAR (Big X in the back window with blue tape would work)
TELL EVERYONE TO TRY TO STAY IN ONE LANE BEHIND THE LEAD CAR.
LET EVERYONE KNOW YOUR TARGET SPEED FOR THE CARAVAN. (75 mph as a suggestion)
LET EVERYONE KNOW THE RADIO IS THERE TO MAKE THE EXPERIENCE SAFER AND MORE FUN. (I heard "Suck my dick" at least twice on the radio this year.)
MAKE SURE THE LEAD DRIVER DRIVES AT A CONSISTENT SPEED AND LEADS THE CARAVAN SAFELY. IF THE LEAD DRIVER MAKES A SUDDEN MOVE, SO WILL EVERYONE ELSE IN THE CARAVAN. IF THE LEAD DRIVER ANTICIPATES THE EXIT FAR AHEAD OF TIME AND POSITIONS THE CARAVAN FOR THE EXIT, THERE IS LESS CHANCE OF AN INCIDENT.
MAKE SURE THE LEAD DRIVER HAS A PASSENGER/NAVIGATOR TO HANDLE THE COMMUNICATION FOR HIM/HER AND ASSIST WITH NAVIGATION.

I would also suggest a trail driver to follow the caravan and catch any problems. It would also be important for him/her to have a passenger/navigator to assist with communication etc... The trail driver needs to have multiple ways to contact the lead driver (radio, cellphone) to let the lead driver know of any problems.

Most importantly:
DON'T ACT LIKE A MORON! KEEP YOUR RACECAR DRIVER IN THE TRUNK FOR TRACK DAYS.
KEEP YOUR GENITALIA IN YOUR PANTS.
KEEP YOUR RADIO CHATTER PG RATED.
RESPECT THE OTHER DRIVERS ON THE HIGHWAY WITH YOU.
YOUR ACTIONS AND ATTITUDES REFLECT ON EVERY CAR AND DRIVER IN THE CARAVAN AND EVERY CAR AND DRIVER AT BIMMERFEST. ACT ACCORDINGLY.

You are sitting at your computer right now and thinking "What does this old fart know, telling me some crap like this?" Just keep doing what you're doing and you won't be able to hold an event like Bimmerfest again. I've seen it happen with other enthusiast venues. Speaking for myself, I hope that I can attend Bimmerfest without having a conversation with a cop by the side of the road.

Marshall

07BMW335i
05-03-2009, 10:53 PM
Next year, we will definitely adjust our times so we can leave a little later. I wanted to have our whole group on the freeway before the UTC group passed. Once they caught up, they ended up passing us. I'm sorry it wasn't as organized as I wanted it to be and we did leave a little too early. Thank you for the tips and I appreciate your input. It was very tasteful even though I know how frustrated you are. I know that things didn't go very smoothly this year and I definitely will take the blame for that. I hope that you will come up with us again next year, so we can prove that we learned a lot this time and we can make some big improvements next time around.

RBE9
05-04-2009, 01:52 AM
Ya I was confused because of the changed plans and ect 2 different channels my radio died anyways .... also I saw some one saying to stop by ikea and follow their caravan .. To much changing in plans at the last min but they cleared it up on the radio so it was good wish my radio didnt die and my e9 didnt have to refuel and miss most of the caravan.

07BMW335i
05-04-2009, 02:07 AM
I'm very sorry about all of the confusion and I know a lot of people didn't like being a part of our group. We'll leave later next time and plan it better.

bmwtransport
05-04-2009, 02:20 AM
Excelent post. People should definitely take this with their hearts. Thats why I never drive in Caravans. I always go solo. I wouldn't mind couple of cars, but some folks just can't behave.

Maybe its the excitment or...:dunno:

teamgomez
05-04-2009, 09:40 AM
Great post, even better reply (accountability).

:thumbup:

phiberglass
05-04-2009, 09:59 AM
The caravans were definitely disorganized, but that happens every year. It seems that we missed the long beach guys too. I grip of caravan members bombed it ahead out of ikea and long beach ended up behind them but in front of our group of 30 or so cars further back. The only problem that I had with my portion of the caravan was everyone going 50 mph I had to keep slowing down with a few other cars waiting for the rest to catch up. And then there was that Mercedes c class sitting in the fast lane blocking all the regular cars >.<

Angeleus
05-04-2009, 10:40 AM
Youch! That's why I went with a smaller caravan with an 89' 325 leading it so that it keep us all in line. We only had a group of 12 cars. Our cars included, an e30, about 7 e36's, 1 e46 and 1 e46 m3, 1 z3, and a e39. Along the way we had a couple of random cars join up with us in the caravan and stayed in line with us. Of our original group of 12, 9 of us had walkie-talkies and keep constant communication to watch out for local LE and idiot drivers.

It seemed that every car that had passed our caravan received a ticket later on when we passed them, regardless if they were BMW or not.

We averaged 60-65 on the way up to the 'fest on the 101 and 65-75 on the way down till we got off the 101.

ManicMechanic
05-04-2009, 01:15 PM
Great post, even better reply (accountability).

:thumbup:

One of the organizers of the caravan has been in contact with me. Hopefully we can work together and make next year's caravan enjoyable for everyone involved. That's been a better experience than being on the phone all day with different insurance adjusters! (See my other thread)

Marshall

sailwind
05-04-2009, 03:13 PM
The Norcal Baybimmerz caravan is organized and does a great job holding 150+ cars together every year. Might want to check with Keith for tips.

Celo_C
05-04-2009, 08:29 PM
Great post. I agree with everything you've said...except for cussing on the radio, I don't give a crap about that :P

The Norcal guys seem to have it down..and its really not that hard to make it all work out. I believe the problem originates with certain drivers (I'll stay away from stereotypes this time) trying to show off or getting frustrated with waiting/traffic/driving slow/etc. Everyone just needs to chill out and enjoy...

One of the main things that will make caravans work out better is the pre-caravan briefing. Usually no one knows who the organizer is and no one has any idea what's going besides the time and place of the caravan. Once someone and their friends decide to leave early and ditch the caravan, everyone thinks that the caravan will be leaving early...but its not!

Anyway, great post...maybe next year things will be better. I went up Friday this year because I was sick of cops and asshole enthusiasts.

antgli
05-04-2009, 11:29 PM
I totally agree with ManicMechanic. I think the organizers did their best to have a successful caravan. Unfortunately, having so many cars you'll have a few who will cause problems and not respect the caravan. I too feel confident driving along with other BMW drivers but a few shouldn't be driving BMW's at all. I was part of the LA Valley caravan and wanted to abandon it after a few miles. There were numerous times when I got passed on the right and being cut off with no signals at high speeds by a few reckless BMW's. Come on guys grow up! Don't get me wrong, I like to drive fast just like evryone else but like ManicMechanic said, have respect for others on the road. I definitely wouldn't have my wife driving on 101 that day. It was just too dangerous for the average motorist. After watching a few BMW drivers drive the way they did I now know why BMW gets a bad rap!

ManicMechanic...if you organize a safe caravan for next year we'll be there :thumbup:!

hellsente36
05-04-2009, 11:59 PM
:thumbup:

synenergy52
05-05-2009, 11:44 PM
Unfortunately this has happened in the last three Bimmerfests I have been to and I am sure the following fests will be no exceptions. You just can't control, time, and coordinate a crowd that big. We can try your suggestions as they are great, but I promise you they won't work. Some people cannot be controlled, unfortunately.

synenergy52
05-05-2009, 11:45 PM
I think we all know about the stereotypes you're talking about and I completely agree. Let's just use the phrase "badge whores" to describe this group. :dunno:

Great post. I agree with everything you've said...except for cussing on the radio, I don't give a crap about that :P

The Norcal guys seem to have it down..and its really not that hard to make it all work out. I believe the problem originates with certain drivers (I'll stay away from stereotypes this time) trying to show off or getting frustrated with waiting/traffic/driving slow/etc. Everyone just needs to chill out and enjoy...

One of the main things that will make caravans work out better is the pre-caravan briefing. Usually no one knows who the organizer is and no one has any idea what's going besides the time and place of the caravan. Once someone and their friends decide to leave early and ditch the caravan, everyone thinks that the caravan will be leaving early...but its not!

Anyway, great post...maybe next year things will be better. I went up Friday this year because I was sick of cops and asshole enthusiasts.

e39 dave
05-06-2009, 09:19 PM
Great Post Manic Mechanic. Like you, I am also in my mid 40's. I don't consider that old. I would call that middle aged :)
I did not make any effort to CARAVAN to Bimmerfest this year. After what I saw last year, I did not feel the need to drive up with a large group of cars. The majority of the drivers that I saw in the caravan last year were safe and respectful, but there were a handful of reckless drivers that felt the need to put lives in danger.
This year I had a special guest with me. I brought my 3 year old son with me. There was no way I was going to put his life in a dangerous situation on the 90 mile drive to Santa Barbara. I left my home at 930AM and arrived about 11AM. We had a nice leisurely drive up there and we had a great time at Bimmerfest.
I understand the desire of having a large group of cars caravan to a location,but with so many vehicles bunched up together something is bound to happen(like an accident). Don't get me wrong and I mean no disrespect to anyone on this website,but in the future I will probably continue to attend Bimmerfest without driving in a caravan.
Dave

kaiv
05-14-2009, 06:01 PM
I have to disagree with the section about the 5 to 405 merge "chaos".

We had Tyler with the TiAg M-coupe leading most of the caravan and I was pleasantly surprised when he -quickly followed by others- started merging to the right lane and occupying only the right lane well ahead of the 405, in preparation for the merge.

Most people followed to the right lane. I thought that was great organization. I did notice some people from the back just going by or staying on the left; how could they miss the whole front of the caravan merging right? IDK. A good driver looks ahead at all time. Anyway that's my take on that part of the caravan. Actually registering here to give my input. Unless there were two different SD caravans, I'm not sure what happened with you :dunno:

Missmodena310
05-14-2009, 06:12 PM
Excelent post. People should definitely take this with their hearts. Thats why I never drive in Caravans. I always go solo. I wouldn't mind couple of cars, but some folks just can't behave.

Maybe its the excitment or...:dunno:

BTW you have one of the best signatures i have seen on the fest!

Missmodena310
05-14-2009, 06:13 PM
This was my first time going.It did get a little crazy at times but in all I had alot of fun.All the cars rock!!. hellsent e36 Dave.:thumbup::thumbup:

ok sorry bout not multiposting but hellsente36 are those your trucks??? i fkn love them!!!!!!!!