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Old 02-19-2012, 07:01 PM
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southern6er22 southern6er22 is offline
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Review of 2-Day Car Control Course - Amazing Experience!

PRIMARY CARS: 335i Sedan & 135i Coupe
OTHER CARS: X6 M, M3 coupe, 550i sedan, Z4is roadster, & X5 xDrive50i

INTRODUCTION: Last weekend I went to the Performance Center for Performance Center Delivery (technically called 101 since I took delivery of my car at my dealership the week before) of my 650i xDrive Coupe in addition to the 2-Day Car Control course. I had an amazing 3-day weekend that was jam-packed with everything BMW. For more information on my PCD/101, I did another write-up about that specifically (see the PCD thread). I stayed at the Greenville Marriott for the four nights of my trip, and it worked out very well as it is close the the PC – and there is a Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts two minutes away

The course started around 8:30 Saturday morning. We met in the dining area to sign the waivers, provide our driver license info, etc., and then went straight to the classroom. We took a break for lunch each day around 12:30 and were provided with a buffet. The food was very good, and there was a decent variety of options – definitely not just a selection of deli sandwiches. We went back to the classroom for a few minutes to discuss the next few exercises then hit the track again. We finished each day around 4:00 p.m.

CLASSROOM: The course began with an introduction to all of the instructors – names, driving/racing records, and a little biography. We had three instructors, and they were all extremely nice, knowledgeable, and entertaining (one of the best parts of the course was their hilarious commentary over the radios).
We (11 people in the class) were split into two groups and assigned partners. We stayed in these groups for the next two days. The two groups allowed for alternating between exercises, which meant less time waiting in line. We would use the 135i coupes for some exercises and the 335i sedans for others. We would do each exercise and then switch drivers, and our partners would then do the same thing. Although this meant we spent half of the car time in the passenger’s seat, it was helpful as you got to watch someone else and hear the feedback from the instructors.
Here are a few of the topics they touched on during the classroom periods:
- Proper seating position (mirrors, steering wheel, dead pedal, etc.).
- Eyes where you intend to go, steering wheel grip, etc.
- Car dynamics (tires, acceleration, braking, steering, car response to driver input, oversteer/understeer).
- Review of the exercises (diagrams and videos of the exercises, and they talked us through what we’d be doing).

ON THE TRACK: We split off into groups and followed the instructors out onto the track and followed them to the portion of track where we would do the exercise. Once we got to the area we’d be using, we slowly followed the instructor through the course, and they talked us through what we were supposed to do. The instructors then demonstrated the exercise at the proper speed. We had immediate feedback from the instructors via radios in the cars. Each car had a radio, and we could hear the instructors talking to us as well as the other people in our group. The commentary/constructive criticism was extremely helpful so we could constantly adjust our techniques during each run through the exercise. As mentioned above, the gentle teasing and sarcastic commentary over the radios was a very amusing aspect of the course.

DAY 1:
1. Slalom – 135i & 335i – handling warm up. Swerving through a line of cones at progressively faster speeds.
2. Emergency (ABS) Stop (35 – 50 mph) – 335i – practicing emergency braking and steering during such a situation. We were told to accelerate to a specific speed then slam on the brakes once we got to some cones and steer through a corner of the track (this showed the ability to steer during hard braking).
3. Handling course – 135i – this course was a loop that started with a slalom followed by two corners (one that was extremely tight), and then there was a longer stretch with two curves that allowed us to get up to speed. At the end of this course there was a brake box that we were supposed to do an ABS stop in the box. We did this course with dynamic traction (DTC) control activated (this is the limited traction setting – dynamic stability control is the full traction/stability setting) that allows for a little slip. This was one of my favorite exercises as it was timed and provided a quantitative value to see our improvement while the instructors were watching and telling us how to improve… it also provided a bit of friendly competition
4. Skid Pad – 335i – we got into the cars (3 people + 1 instructor) and did circles around the skid pad without traction control (300 feet in diameter ring of wet, polished concrete). The instructor was in the passenger’s seat and told us how to adjust our speed to induce oversteer/understeer (with the help of the instructor pulling the parking brake to induce the oversteer). We then had to implement the proper driving inputs to recover from the oversteer/understeer. There was a lot of spinning the first day, especially while trying to recover from oversteer. It was a lot of fun sitting in the backseat spinning around – comforting knowing that there wasn't traffic or obstacles to hit. We each got numerous opportunities to try to recover from the situation.
5. Emergency Lane Change – 135i – the purpose of this exercise is to practice changing lanes in an emergency situation where there isn’t time to brake. A course was set up with cones showing one lane, then we’d have to flick the wheel to switch to the left lane and complete an ABS stop. The instructor called a speed out to us, and we accelerated to that speed then tried to complete swerve and brake.
6. Rat Race – 335i – we were taken to a wide open expanse of wet asphalt with an oval set up with cones. We had a competition, two at a time, racing around the oval track (sans traction control) until we had a winner. This exercise resulted in lots of sliding and lots of fun.

DAY 2:
1. Slalom – 135i & 335i – same as above as a warm up, but we swapped cars from yesterday.
2. Highway Emergency (ABS) Stop (55 – 70 mph) – 335i – this time we got up to some decent speeds to practice ABS braking on the highway and steering during these situations. At these speeds steering is very important, and it was a lot more apparent that you can control where the car goes while braking. We started by slamming on the brakes at a set of cones and steering around a corner as we braked. This showed the different distances it required to come to a complete stop from various (high) speeds. After a few runs at different speeds they got rid of the cones and set up another brake box, and we were supposed to decide where we had to slam on the brakes to stop in the box.
3. Slalom and turn – 135i – we took off from the line, drove through a slalom of offset cones, then pull a 180 degree turn that was very tight and wet, then returning through the slalom and completing an ABS stop in a brake box at the end. This was one of my favorite exercises. We were told our times (and the times of the others) after each run, and we had to adjust our speed, steering, and braking. This was amazing fun that really got my hear racing as I tried to beat my time as well as the times of others. Making the wet, tight turn was the hardest in terms of steering and braking, but it was also very difficult to go straight from the slalom into the brake box that was not much larger than the car (stopping beyond the box – or hitting a cone – counted as a 2 second penalty).
4. Skid Pad – this was the same as the previous day, but everyone in our car seemed to do much better. I was able to recover from every understeer situation and about 14 of 15 oversteer situations. I was glad I had the second day so I had a little more experience and practice, and I am much more comfortable with the maneuver should I ever find myself in such a situation.
5. Emergency Double Lane Change – 135i – this exercise was the same as the single lane change yesterday, but this time we had to change from the right lane to the left lane then back to the right lane and then complete an ABS stop. I really enjoyed this exercise, but several cones were harmed in the process. I found it to be easier than the single change, but this may have been due to more practice since the previous day.
6. Other Roads Course – X5 xDrive50i – we were taken to the off-road course in a fleet of X5s and taken through a number of challenges, including some steep inclines, standing water, and very bumpy roads. This exercise really highlighted the capabilities of xDrive in shifting power to the wheels with the most grip. There were a number of times when at least one wheel was in the air. Watching the person in front of me go down the steepest incline was a bit scary watching it from the bottom. The car actually tilts at the top of a hill where the back right wheel comes over a foot off the ground – it really looks like the car is going to flip. They also took the opportunity to show off the Hill Descent Control (HDC) feature that controls the car’s speed and braking down steep inclines as well as the Auto H (automatic hold) feature that engages the parking brake when sitting in traffic. This was obviously a set up to show off the capabilities of the X5, albeit on a course designed specifically for the car. Nevertheless, I was impressed, and it definitely showed that xDrive works beyond rain and snow.
7. Final Laps – X6 M, M3, 550i, & Z4is – we were taken to the largest portion of the track that we had used to that point. We alternated cars and did approximately two laps per car. This was probably the highlight of the course as it allowed us to pick up some speed in some cars with legit power. I thoroughly enjoyed running these laps, but I wish we had more time in each car. Learning a new portion of track required practicing different corners, and this was especially difficult with different cars every two laps – big difference between a 555 hp, 2.5 ton X6 M and a 340 hp Z4is roadster. Nevertheless, this was a lot of fun, and it was great being able to play in a variety of Bimmers. *Note: these are not necessarily the cars that they use for this portion of every course. They said they tailored their selection to our group, and they have about 120 cars in the fleet. I’m not sure which other cars they use, but they did say that they don't use the M5s and other cars that are out of production – they only use the M5s for the instructors and the M courses.
8. Hot Laps – M5 (2010) – the drivers took us around the track in its entirety – not exactly a leisurely spin. These guys were good… very good. They pulled some amazing stunts and made a lot of smoke and noise.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I would highly recommend this course. It is a car control/defensive driving course, not a racing/fast driving course – that would be the M Course, which I cannot wait to do. This was my first time on a track, and I found this course extremely educational for driving on and off the track. I would highly recommend the 2-day course instead of the 1-day, assuming that the 1-day is pretty much the same as the first day of the 2-day course. I say this not because there was necessarily anything wrong with the first day, but I found the second day to make what we learned the first day to make more sense. I feel that I would have been slightly disappointed if I left after one day and did not have a second day to practice what we learned. The second day also allowed us to drive some different cars around the track rather than the 1 Series and 3 Series only. They are great cars, but BMW definitely has a lot more to offer.

Hope this is helpful to any of you interested in taking the course!

650i xDrive Coupe (2012), Carbon Black/Black/Gray Poplar, M Sport, Full LEDs, 20" 373M Wheels, ARS,
HUD, CWP, Premium Sound, Nappa Dash w/ Contrast Stitching, Ceramic Controls, BMW Apps, PCD
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Old 02-20-2012, 09:53 AM
JimD1 JimD1 is offline
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I did the 2 day M school in 2010. The skid pad exercise you did twice we did once on the first day of M school. If you could repeatedly recover from oversteer they would let you try to drift around the oval. It's harder than you'd think because the pavement is not consistent. There are smooth and rough segments.

The only other exercise you mention we did was the rat race. We did another wet skid pad exercise (using the upper pad), where we did timed figure 8s around two cones. I finally got the feel of that at the end and beat the others in my group. I did not do very well in the rat race.

Most of the M school exercises were to teach you the right line through a turn or series of turns. We did the largest turn, for instance, and they taught us that your car would tuck in, pick up traction on the front, if you lifted slightly at the apex. You have to be cornering very near the limit for this to occur but it is neat when you get it to work. After they teach you the whole course in short segmebts they let you see if you can put it together. I forgot a lot of what I had learned earlier.

The other difference is you are driving M3s, M5s, and M6s the whole time. They have 1Ms now so if you drive manual I think you can drive that for some exercises. They are neat cars. The acceleration I expected to be greater but the brakes are also much stronger than my bimmer.

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Old 02-25-2012, 09:20 AM
I-Won-Today I-Won-Today is offline
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Thanks for the great posts! That was a very good description of the 2 day Car Control class and Jim did a good job of adding in some differences of the M School.

As mentioned, day 2 is very beneficial. You actually get to put to use what you learned in day 1 and it all starts to sink in and make since.
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Old 04-23-2012, 12:17 AM
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southern6er22 southern6er22 is offline
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Originally Posted by aliliaquat View Post
i would like to thanks your amazing posting it's really good, thanks.
My pleasure. I hope it's helpful.

650i xDrive Coupe (2012), Carbon Black/Black/Gray Poplar, M Sport, Full LEDs, 20" 373M Wheels, ARS,
HUD, CWP, Premium Sound, Nappa Dash w/ Contrast Stitching, Ceramic Controls, BMW Apps, PCD
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