Here it is! Pretty long, but I think this about sums it up...enjoy!
Thursday afternoon, 3/21, my girlfriend and I drove a rental car one way to the Greenville-Spartanburg airport. Upon arrival, we called the Marriot and they dispatched a 525iT to come get us and our stuff! On the brief drive to the hotel, the driver handed us an envelope that had our welcome letter and a short itenerary for the next day. We did have to check in ourselves, but normally the driver will have already taken care of this for you. He then showed us to our room, made our dinner reservation and then split.
Dinner was at Austin's, which is the Marriot's in-house restaurant. Decent atmosphere, decent food. We may have caught them on an off night because the service was a bit slow. Either way, I can't complain about a free meal!
Breakfast was at 6:30am! We were up at 5:30 in order to be ready to leave on the shuttle at 7:30am. The breakfast buffet was pretty good and had a wide variety of things to choose from. After that, we checked out and got on the shuttle. All in all, BMW picked up the tab for everything. The only money I laid down was for tips for our driver and waitstaff. Not bad!
On the shuttle, we chatted with the other people going over. I was the oddball in that I was the only one picking up a 330ci. One couple was there for their SMG M3 Convertible while two other guys were picking up their SMG M3 Coupe!
Once at the PC, everyone gathers in the lobby and they do a brief round of intros so that you know who's who. They then break you out into three groups. One goes to the Zentrum museum, the second takes delivery, and the third goes to the track!
I got to goto the track with the same people I rode with on the shuttle plus another couple who was also picking up an SMG M3 Coupe!
Before you go to the cars, they take you to a classroom and go over the goals for the exercises and also some basic driving pointers and techniques. You also get to introduce yourself to the group here and share in your excitement!
The first step out the back door is amazing. A sea of M5's, Z8's, M3's, 3er's, 5'ers, you name it, it's out there! Total kid in a candy store feeling times 100!!! :yikes:
On to the driving. I actually was given a step 325ci rather than a manual 330ci. I was told that hp/tranny weren't important and that the focus was more on handling and techniques. I don't care what he said, I was upset.
All the other guys were given 6sp M3's for their track car.
Note: for all exercises, each driver gets 3 runs a piece.
The slalom is first. The goal here is to 'lift your eyes up', utilize both the windshield and side windows to increase your field of view and not focus directly on the next cone but rather to see several cones ahead and point your nose through each gate. After two runs, my chick got out b/c she was getting motion sickness, which is not uncommon. I was able to let loose a little more once she got out.
Next up was the ABS exercise. This was cool! They basically stage you about 1/4 mile back from a section of track that merges with the skidpad where cones force you to turn left or right while braking.
We are instructed to hit 40/45/50 mph and then when our instructor tells us to, brake as hard as we can and attempt to control the car. Added bonus: the sprinklers are turned on and the road is slick! :yikes: By the way, I happened to be first in line for all exercises, so I was pretty nervous yet excited at the same time!
First run went pretty well. By the time the instructor yells 'Brake!', you figure you're dead meat. Not so. Amazingly, the car stays under control and you can steer to avoid the cones! Now you know what to expect for the second run. By the third run @ 50mph, it's a pretty good rush! We hung out in our car watching the next guy come down. Really cool! :thumb:
Our last exercise was the skidpad. Our goal here was to experiment with understeer/oversteer, front wheel skids vs. rear wheel skids, and the effect that DSC has on all of these scenarios. As we're circling and the instructor is telling us about the exercise, again, the sprinklers come on and the polished concrete surface will soon be as slick as a hockey rink!
My girlfiend happened to be in the drivers seat, so she went first this time. (This should be good
) The instructor(s) ride along with you to help demonstrate the techniques and probably calm us down. After several revolutions around the pad, I notice the car go mildly out of control and then regain course. That was the result of DSC on and flooring it during a constant left turn.
After several more revolutions, the car suddenly spins out wickedly! This was the result of our instructor yanking the e-brake during the same constant left turn. The goal is to try to recover, somewhat, but it's almost as much fun to spin out! I can't remember if this was DSC on or off...? We were supposed to do both, but I didn't notice much of a difference. :dunno:
When my turn came, I managed to keep it under better control than I thought. It's pretty difficult unless you've had lots of practice. Only one guy was able to recover fully and he had lots of racing experience and driving schools under his belt.
Watching the M3's go through these spins was awesome. You could hear the whine of the engine as the guys were picking up speed and then all of a sudden, the car is in a 180 degree spin or more sliding off the pad and into the grass..!
After we all completed several runs, that was the end of the driving part. All in all, it was a blast! We have alot of it on video, so once I have some time, I'll try to post some movies.
On the way back in, our instructor told us that the Z8 school and M5 school were also going on that day. Glancing back to the skidpad, I saw two M5's in complete 4-wheel drifts circling endlessly! The sound of those engines was incredible! The Z8's were zipping in and out of the slalom and doing some other exercises that looked equally as fun!
Wrapping this up, we went over to the museum after the track and looked around there for awhile and watched the video of the factory tour. We got to take an M Roadster to and from the PC which was a nice little treat!
Finally after lunch, I took delivery of my car! The delivery bays are really cool. They raise doors from the service area, drive your car through the hallway and into the delivery bay. Once inside, there are electric blinds that lower to block out the glare from the sun, and probably some prying eyes too.
We were all finished and on the road by about 2:00. Home by 3:30-4:00, then we sacked out until dinner time! What a great day! :thumb: