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      11-10-2018, 09:25 PM   #1
FRAU GRAU's Avatar

Drives: Frau Grau
Join Date: May 2006
Location: SoCal

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M Track Days Road Trip - 2 M4s take on Palms to Pines Highway

I’ve been wanting to do M Track Days for a while. After doing 2-day M School and two Nurburgring trainings with Donnie Isley willwin2day, this was a must.

So, back in May, about 2 days after dates were released, my brother and two buddies signed up for this past Saturday’s session! Our two buddies have an M2 (6MT!!) and M4. My brother’s 4x4 4Runner is the oddball…but serves us well for winter trips to Mammoth.

Anyway, M4 buddy and I decided to incorporate a super-mini road trip into this. It involved some nice turns on CA243 and CA74…basically the Palms to Pines highways…and a lunch at the Paradise Valley Café! Apologize in advance that some pics have been edited for Instagram use!

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The M Track Days session was, of course, a blast – albeit truncated! Basically, you start with a short classroom session – typical BMW lesson, seating position, braking and corners.

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Then the 50 or so participants were broken into 3 groups. Each group rotated the three activities: timed autocross for the ultimate driver competition, drag races and lead-follow laps on the South Palm Circuit at Thermal (aka “the big track”).

The cars:

Autocross: OG LCI M2s

Drag races: Cycle through M4 vert, New M5, X5M and X3 M40i.

Lead-follow: One session each in M3 and M4.

Every situation is 2 to a car, alternating drivers. We had the activities in the order I listed.

So, this sort of gave us a disadvantage on the timed laps, as we hadn’t done any other driving. It’s a short autocross with a stop box. You get 2 runs, and no practice. We got a third bonus run but wasn’t counted. I did better each run, but it was an embarrassing performance when your buddy beats you and hasn’t been all these places for driving events! A piece of advice for next year and for you all: basically, the short autocross at thermal is so low-speed oriented you almost never need to brake.

The drag race was fun as we were competing against each other. We also got to drive the new M5, albeit for a very short sprint. It’s a beast of a car but also so refined you almost can’t feel it. We dragged each car and then we were done. Personally, I really liked the X5M…what a monster!

The final breakout session was lead-follow in the M3 and M4. Before our briefing we got the treat of watching a pro take BMW’s new HP4 bike, out for some hot laps…went by us at 130 and said he was at 170 on the back stretch…has 215 hp and whole bike weighs something like 337 lbs dry! NUTS!

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And a flyby!

We did M3s first and then M4s. We rotated drivers every lap or so. We had a serious slowpoke car in the M3 session, so we changed groups for the M4 session! Our instructor, during my lap session with my brother in another M4 was “the fastest all day!” This is great…as we were last! We swapped drivers to our two buddies…and I was riding with M2 buddy this time. Going into the final corner he was on the gas early and then slid right and then left and almost lost it…instructor over the radio, “whoa, Whoa, WHOA, WHOAAAA!” IIRC, I was laughing the whole time. We found out later M4 buddy almost obliterated us from behind!

After all this was over, it was time for hot laps. I told M4 buddy we needed to get in Adam’s car. Adam Seaman is the head guy at BMW Performance Center West and the best drifter of the lot. We got in with him and he didn’t disappoint!

Once the hot laps were done, BMW treated us to a great lunch and debrief with top three laps announced…none of us were near because of our 2 second-lap past the stop box penalties. Nobody in our early morning group was in the top ten. There is definitely an advantage to warm up and practice. Nevertheless, all in, this is about the best bang for your $250 as far as track type events go. It was a great time and we can’t wait to do it again.

We finished lunch and headed back to PGA West for an afternoon round on the Nicklaus course, followed by some fun evening shenanigans. We did a second round of golf the next day at Desert Willow before the drive back.

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My golf was and is beyond terrible, but a great weekend all around! Some departing shots...

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Last edited by FRAU GRAU; 11-10-2018 at 09:31 PM.
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