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View Full Version : Precision Driving Atlanta - a total blast!


whk
11-16-2003, 10:12 AM
I just did BMW's free 2 hour precision driving clinic yesterday in Atlanta. It was really fun, and depending on your starting point, educational too.

We started off with 20 minutes of general information about steering, braking, acceleration, and especially, how all of these are related to traction.

Next we split into groups, and in our group there were 4 instructors 4 330i's and 20 students. We then got in the car with the instructor for a practice lap and a chance to see what ABS brakes do. Our instructors comments on this exercise were short and to the point. FLOOR IT. KEEP IT FLOORED...........................NOW STOPPPPP! We did this on a straight section and then into a sharp curve. This is fun and useful.

Now it was the instructors turn to drive. They drove us around the track in slow motion, but not really, they talked the whole way about when to brake, where to approach a corner from, when to accelerate. It felt like we could have walked faster than he drove, but there was a LOT of stuff to keep track of if you wanted to get around the course quickly. The theory is fine, now how does it work in practice?

Our instructor was a young Swedish guy whose professional racing experience is in the Japanese inspired sport of drift racing. I don't know much about this sport except that it involves asphalt tracks and driving patterns that emphasize loss of lateral traction. This guy gave us a couple of demo laps around the track a full speed. He drove like a total maniac. I've never been slapped side to side so hard in a car in my life. It was amazing.

Next I got to drive a couple of laps as fast as I wanted. The instructor was sitting next to me telling me where to approach corners from, where to be looking, etc., etc. There is a lot to learn, but in just a few laps you start to learn what you are doing wrong, and that's always the first step in getting better.

The driving ended with a relay race. Each student and instructor took two timed laps. Fast students did mid 24 second laps, average did mid 25, and slow were mid 26. (If I were slow, I wouldn't be writing this, and if I were fast, you can bet I would have told you already.) My Swedish instructor had the fastet lap of all by far. He was turning in mid 22 second laps - totally amazing.

BMW knows how to run a first class event. Snacks, films, people who totally know their stuff to talk to, Drive for a Cure cars to demo, and a few new cars to sit in or just drool over. I could get used the the M5 they had sitting in front of their pavillion.

GSR13
11-16-2003, 12:43 PM
Sounds like you had a good time! I will be going Wednesday and I am looking forward to it.

Spectre
11-16-2003, 02:55 PM
Sounds just like the Precision Driving Experience that was held at the old Alameda Naval Air Station. You're right, it's just an incredible blast and the price is right. Are you going to sign up for the all-day driving course the next time they come to town? Might be worth it just to abuse someone else's 330i. ;)

BradATL
11-17-2003, 08:14 PM
Sounds like you had a good time! I will be going Wednesday and I am looking forward to it.

My wife and I will also be there on Wednesday. Looking forward to it!

GSR13
11-17-2003, 08:30 PM
My wife and I will also be there on Wednesday. Looking forward to it!

Hey Brad, what timeframe are you scheduled for? If you are interested, I would love to meet up and put a face with a name.

We are scheduled for 10:30:00 to 12:30:00.

BradATL
11-18-2003, 09:14 PM
Hey Brad, what timeframe are you scheduled for? If you are interested, I would love to meet up and put a face with a name.

We are scheduled for 10:30:00 to 12:30:00.

GSR13: we are scheduled for 1:30pm. If you are still around by then, look for us. I'm late 30's, dark hair, 5'9, medium build. She's early 30's, blonde, 5'7, slim build. We probably won't be in the M3 -- she's gonna pick me up at my office on the way there, so we'll probably be in her blue Explorer. What color is your 330i?

Hope it won't still be pouring down rain tomorrow. It is raining dogs 'n cats right now.

bbkat
11-18-2003, 10:47 PM
She's early 30's, blonde, 5'7, slim build.
There's sure to be a crowd of Festers there now! :lmao:

GSR13
11-19-2003, 05:59 AM
GSR13: we are scheduled for 1:30pm. If you are still around by then, look for us. I'm late 30's, dark hair, 5'9, medium build. She's early 30's, blonde, 5'7, slim build. We probably won't be in the M3 -- she's gonna pick me up at my office on the way there, so we'll probably be in her blue Explorer. What color is your 330i?

Hope it won't still be pouring down rain tomorrow. It is raining dogs 'n cats right now.

I am 26 and about the same height as you. Shaved head and goatee.

My 330i is Black/Black with Aluminum Trim, Alum. Shift Knob and OEM Clear Corner Markers.

I sincerely hope the rain has let up by the time we get there. Last night was just brutal.

GSR13
11-19-2003, 02:55 PM
Well, I just got home from the Precision Driving Experience and I have to echo WHK. What an absolute blast.

Like WHK, they broke us into a small group, ours contained about 14 people. We did the same basic program, with braking and then instructor laps that were just intense. We did not get the Swedish Instructor, but he was with our group, and he was pretty crazy. After reading WHK's post, I made sure I watched him.

Interestingly enough, he did not set the fastest time, but he was very close. The Instructor my wife and I rode with set it, and he got 22:002, which I thought was amazing.

When we ran the relay race, the first guy in our team blistered out a 23:400 and a 23:580 (these are approximate, but pretty close). When I went, next to last, I got a 23:576 and was told it was the fastest lap of the day. Turns out, the guy to run first hit a cone and got a 2 second penalty. :D I ended up with the fastest lap of the group, which was pretty exciting for me.

I also want to say that they gave out a trophy for Most Improved Driver. It was a small Orange Cone with a Roundel Sticker and Most Improved written on it. I was so excited when they gave this to my wife. :thumbup: :D

So, I got the fastest time, my wife got Most Improved (and set a great lap in the 24's) and our team won the Relay Race.

Plus, before we started, we took an X5 3.0 on a ride for the Drive for the Cure. My wife has expressed interest in getting one to replace the Z3 and I wanted her to drive one. Not bad, but we both need more time to make the final decision.

All in all, a great show. Big thanks to BMW for doing this and even bigger thanks for making it free.

Kaz
11-19-2003, 03:01 PM
Wow, you guys had a pretty small track config. Mine had an instructor-driven time of mid 28s, and I managed a low 30, I think.

Overall, I was a bit underwhelmed by the event, though I did have a pretty good time. Certainly didn't help that it was in the midst of the local fires and the air was choked with smoke and ash.

Spectre
11-19-2003, 03:28 PM
Wow, you guys had a pretty small track config. Mine had an instructor-driven time of mid 28s, and I managed a low 30, I think.

Overall, I was a bit underwhelmed by the event, though I did have a pretty good time. Certainly didn't help that it was in the midst of the local fires and the air was choked with smoke and ash.Well, considering the price, it's hard to complain. :p

They probably lay out courses based on the available space. At Alameda, they layed out 3 courses that were essentially the same down the runway. They also had a separate course for the M drivers.

whk
11-19-2003, 03:49 PM
When we ran the relay race, the first guy in our team blistered out a 23:400 and a 23:580 (these are approximate, but pretty close). When I went, next to last, I got a 23:576 and was told it was the fastest lap of the day. Turns out, the guy to run first hit a cone and got a 2 second penalty. :D I ended up with the fastest lap of the group, which was pretty exciting for me.

You (and your wife) are fast - it must be all the practice you get driving on I85. Have you ever done any timed events before? I'm only a 2 hour drive from BMW's South Carolina plant, so it is tempting to take a full day course. They're expensive, but it's worth a lot to me be driving their cars.

GSR13
11-19-2003, 05:06 PM
Wow, you guys had a pretty small track config. Mine had an instructor-driven time of mid 28s, and I managed a low 30, I think.

Overall, I was a bit underwhelmed by the event, though I did have a pretty good time. Certainly didn't help that it was in the midst of the local fires and the air was choked with smoke and ash.

It was extremely small. Actually, the Mazda Rev-it-up Course Configuration was a good bit larger and had a Slalom. This course was very basic, but made great by the instructors and the people getting to compete as a group. The one on one time was a lot more valuable and made it a lot more fun.

GSR13
11-19-2003, 05:10 PM
You (and your wife) are fast - it must be all the practice you get driving on I85. Have you ever done any timed events before? I'm only a 2 hour drive from BMW's South Carolina plant, so it is tempting to take a full day course. They're expensive, but it's worth a lot to me be driving their cars.

I try to avoid I85, and all the other Interstates, like the plague.

I have actually requested some of the driving schools for Christmas, and I am looking forward to that.

As for timed events, currently, I have never competed in any driving event. Well, I did do Mazda Rev-it-up, but that was not really an event. I hope to do some AutoX next year, and eventually lap Road Atlanta. My wife had never done any form of driving and she did excellent. I was so happy for her, because she really does not enjoy that type of thing.

Fuzzypuppy
11-20-2003, 01:08 AM
My wife and I did the Alameda event. It totally change her perspective on our cars and on performance driving. What a blast. Events like these are the reason I'll always consider myself a BMW guy... even if I pick up that pre-owned 360. :eeps:

ZBB 325Ci
11-20-2003, 06:29 AM
My girlfriend and I did the Atlanta event last Sunday afternoon... Had a great time and my girlfriend won the award for fastest lap (just over 25.8 seconds). I was middle of the pack at a little over 26 seconds...

We chose the Z4s for the event... class size was only 8 people with 4 cars... The Z4s were SMG... but the instructor did the shifting pulls. The shifts were very fast and almost unnoticable from a power standpoint...

BradATL
11-20-2003, 08:08 PM
Our instructor was a young Swedish guy whose professional racing experience is in the Japanese inspired sport of drift racing. I don't know much about this sport except that it involves asphalt tracks and driving patterns that emphasize loss of lateral traction. This guy gave us a couple of demo laps around the track a full speed. He drove like a total maniac. I've never been slapped side to side so hard in a car in my life. It was amazing.

My wife and I had the same Swedish guy as our instructor! We had a great time, and we were very glad the rain held off. I was pretty impressed with the way the 330i handled.