Attended a driver safety instruction school in my 650i
My local BMW chapter presented its semi-annual driver safety instruction school this past Saturday. The school had approximately 18 attendees who were separated into three groups for both the morning and afternoon sessions. The morning session started with a brief lecture concerning driver safety, distractions, etc. Afterwards, we broke up into three groups and were sent to our respective stations. We rotated through all three stations with the first consisting of a short distance track that was set up to make high speed emergency stops, learn how to apex corners and proper slalom techniques, among other things. The next station was the skid pad which was my favorite. It was a huge concrete pad with heavily flowing water moving across it. We circled a set of cones and learned how to feel and control both over and under steer. I ran a couple of loops with traction control engaged to learn what my car's nannies will do on its own. Then, I turned it off for the remainder of the skid pad sessions. It was an incredible learning experience to figure out how far I could let the car both over steer and under steer and make a full recovery (and to avoid having another nasty snap oversteer incident). The final station was a “parking gymkhana” called 4 corners and was designed to teach where are the four corners of your car. At that station we entered a space cordoned off with parking cones about the size of an average two car garage and had to three point turn without pegging the cones and get out. We then had to place the outside front wheel squarely in a chalked patch and do the same for the outside rear wheel. This was followed with parallel parking. I learned just how long is the 650i! Yes, I turned off the PDC.
After a 45 minute lunch break, followed by a short lecture, the afternoon sessions were also set up in three stations. The first station was back on the track and instead of emergency stopping, we learned high speed avoidance techniques and then we continued along the track repeating the morning exercises but at higher speeds and with less verbal instruction than from the morning’s narrative guidance. The second station was the skid pad but there were two sets of circled cones for which we had to drive through in a figure of eight pattern. The final station was the parking gymkhana that had narrow coned lanes set up in a “t” pattern that you had to successfully pull in and back out without pegging the cones (right turn heading in, back to the left, right turn, back left and head out). Next we placed the driver’s front tire in the marked out patch and then we had to parallel park from the “wrong side” of the road.
Suffice it to say that it was an incredibly valuable learning experience and I will do it several more times. Next time, in addition to turning off the traction control, I will be certain to make sure my "slushbox" is in sport mode.
Current: 2010 E63. Carbon Black
Past: 1999 E39 (540i)
Garage Queen: 1994 FD